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The actual appearance of equipment is as variable as the populations of the different planets. With over a million worlds in the Imperium, local tastes and materials will inevitably produce a riot of different forms. Some worlds favour an archaic pattern of instrumentation, believing that the arrangements of buttons and levers form part of a runic pattern itself important to proper functioning. Other worlds prefer to mimic the higher technical achievements of their ancestors, utilising the more advanced (although no more effective) pure crystal or holographic control systems. When it comes down to it, all are forms of pushing a button, and are equally effective. Only if characters encounter a system radically different from one they are used to will problems arise.
Archaic controls are basically buttons, levers, switches and dials set into a panel and monitored by video, digital or dial display. This is the sort of thing anyone from the Twentieth Century could easily understand and use.
Pure Crystal Technology and stacked atomic chains have no visible components - control panels often take the form of either black slabs of material or transparent sheets like glass. Held by suspensors, an inactive control panel could appear as a floating pane of glass or slab of stone - the same panel could be recessed into floor or ceiling and might float into position by vocal command, radio-signal, pressure sensors, presence detectors, etc. A panel is activated by coded radio-signal, voice or simply by touch. An active panel displays information visually like a vid-screen. Its equivalent of buttons are differently coloured lights which are touch or heat sensitive.