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Mass Effect & Mass Effect 2
Combat hard-suits use a dual-layer system to protect the wearer. The inner layer consists of fabric armor with kinetic padding. Areas that don't need to be flexible, such as chest or shins, are reinforced with sheets of lightweight ablative ceramic.
The outer layer consists of automatically-generated kinetic barriers. Objects traveling above a certain speed will trigger the barrier's reflex system and be deflected, provided there is enough energy left in the shield's power cell.
Armored hard-suits are sealable to protect the wearer from extremes of temperature and atmosphere. Standard equipment includes an onboard mini-frame and a communications, navigation, and sensing suite. The mini-frame is designed to accept and display data from a weapon's smart targeting system to make it easier to locate and eliminate enemies.
Mass Effect 3
Modern combat hardsuits have a "triple canopy" of protection: shields, armor, and self-repair. The outermost layer is created through kinetic barrier emitters, which detect objects incoming at a high rate of speed and generate deflecting "shields" provided they have enough energy left in their power cells.
If a bullet or other incoming object gets past the barrier, it contends with the more traditional body armor. A sealed suit of nonporous ballistic cloth provides kinetic and environmental protection, reinforced by lightweight composite ceramic plates in areas that either don't need to flex or require additional coverage, such as the chest and head. When the armor is hit by directed energy weapons, the plates boil away or ablate rather than burning the wearer.
The last level of protection is provided by the suit's microframe computers, whose input detectors are woven throughout the fabric. These manage the self-healing system, which finds rents in the fabric and, assuming any such tear would wound the flesh underneath, seals the area off with sterile, nonconductive medi-gel. This staunches minor wounds and plugs holes in the suit that could prove fatal in vacuum or toxic environments. Soldiers are not always fond of the "squish skin" that oozes gel on them at a moment's notice, but fatalities have dropped sharply since the system was implemented.