For the purposes of the show, the convicts have bio control units (BCU-2) implanted in them, which connect directly to their spinal cord. BCU-2s are the very first mass-produced bioengineered AI units capable of controlling any kind of living organism. The BCU-1 was originally used for medical purposes only: to keep the brain-damaged patients alive by inducing a coma and stimulating their life functions until the patients get better. However, an upgraded version of the unit was then produced for the industrial and military purposes. This upgraded version, the so-called BCU-2, was a radio-controlled unit with more options and it could replace all the subject’s basic brain functions. What this means is that once the real brain dies, the company could easily take over the subject’s body and control it by a simple programming code injected into the BCU-2 unit.
The common practice of BCU-2 usage is to take control over the body when the subject dies. In this case, the BCU-2 starts to activate all subroutines and it takes a few minutes for the unit to resume all bodily functions. Once this happens, the corpse is reanimated and is thus brought back to life. To stay operational, the unit has to ensure a sufficient energy flow by food consumption. The subjects controlled by BCU-2 unit are programmed to attack the living convicts and they feed off their flesh until the victim dies and becomes controlled as well. All BCU-2 units are capable of intercommunication via shortwave radio signals within the range of 250m. Depending on the programming, BCU-2 units can perform various bodily actions such as walking, running, jumping, climbing and grasping. To a certain extent, they can even coordinate the limbs to perform complex actions such as wielding a weapon or throwing a rock. If the unit is fully charged, it may stimulate the body to move faster than a normal human being does, but as its energy runs out, the controlled subjects are slowed down and experience only occasional energy bursts. These subjects are also known as ‘puppets’, ‘spooks’, ’biters’, ‘walkers’, ‘pawns’, ‘roamers’ or ’runners’.
The BCU-2 is capable of broadcasting footage directly from the subject’s eyes and this feature has become extremely popular among the viewers. To be able to experience the very last moments seen by a dying man is an instant hit on television and has helped TEC1 to take reality TV to the next level. The software that controls BCU-2 units can be upgraded from the TEC1 network servers in real-time. There are rumors about new software upgrades allowing pay2move service, which enables the viewers to control their own ‘puppets’ during the live show broadcast.
All BCU-2 units are equipped with a locator and a small explosive charge which activates if an attempt to remove the device has been made. It is not completely impossible to remove it; yet, the removal process requires surgery and some knowledge in electronics. It is also recommended that it’s carried out during general anesthesia. Also, BCU-2 units can be jammed and disabled for some time or permanently. For both options, additional hardware and software may be required. Jamming devices can limit or cut off the communication between the implant and master server by generating white noise. Using jammers for longer periods of time may result in the activation of the self-destruct subroutine within the BCU. Once it is activated, the convicts have a limited time to restore the BCU’s connection with the master server. When the connection is restored, the self-destruct sequence is turned off. To disable the implant, the BCU has to be reprogrammed to simulate correspondence with the master server. This is done with a device capable of making the connection with the BCU and certain software that acts as an upgrade. Before disabling the unit, it is necessary to cut off its connections with the master server; otherwise, the unit will detect an unauthorized access and trigger the self-destruct sequence.
All the ‘puppets’ can be terminated only if their BCU is destroyed or removed. The implants can be manually torn off of the back of the neck or smashed by striking with them with a hard object. Once the units have been destroyed or removed, the self-destruct sequence will initiate (announced by a beeping sound) and after 30 seconds, the explosive charge will be activated.