Neuron Concept

New Designers 19 Jul 2011
Neuron Concept

The Neuron Concept is a study of a futuristic vehicle based on the extensive implementation of advanced brain-machine interface (BMI) technologies. The author is RCA graduate Ian Kettle.


Neuron ConceptThe Neuron Concept was Ian Kettle‘s final project at the RCA’s MA Vehicle Design Course.

The vehicle explores the possible consequences of implementing brain machine interface (BMI) technology into the automobile, trying to imagine how this would affect the relationship between human and machines and change both the design and construction.

BMI technology would create machines and products that could almost be considered an “extension of the self”, with many aspects of traditional design – such as physical controls and safety system – becoming redundant.

Neuron Concept by Ian Kettle Neuron Concept

Neuron doesn’t need any fixed driving position or physical input device, so the core of the concept revolves around a freeform interior that can be adapted according to users’ needs.

Neuron Concept - freeform interiorThe interior is constructed of over 1,500 superlight nylon strands, each with a piezoelectric shape memory polymer core, which changes its form according to how the users prefer to sit, in a way similar to the metal imprinter toys used by children.

As Ian explains, “The notion of containing the interior within a hard metal box is no longer relevant and as such, the structure that surrounds users can also be reconsidered.

“If BMI technology could ultimately mean less chance of accidents, then the materials used to construct the product can move away from the pedestrian and cyclist deadly metals and plastics we currently use.

Neuron Concept - frame “Therefore, the framework surrounding the interior, inspired by the flexibility and strength of vertebrae, is constructed from a hard rubber coated in a soft foam.”

Over the top of this framework that holds the interior is stretched a simple, soft rubber skin that changes its form according to the interior layout and which forms a soft and translucent exterior surface.

The use of soft, thin rubbers for the construction of the car would also result in a significant weight reduction of the vehicle.

On top of all of this and clamping the vertebrae together is the brain scanner, that utilizes the NIRS (near infra-red spectroscopy) method of reading brain waves to control the different functions. Five separate scanners are included – one for each passenger.

Neuron Concept - scale model Neuron Concept - scale model

“From the start, Neuron has been an exploratory project into a new and exciting technology. The intention was never to create a fully resolved car: the potential of the technology is so vast yet new, that the chance to imagine a new world and new types of products to populate it utilising BMI technology was more interesting.”

About the Designer

Citroen design Sketch by Ian KettleIan Kettle is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, where he completed the MA Vehicle Design course.

Ian has gained professional experience as a designer at both Bentley in Crewe and Volvo in Gothenburg, where he was a member of the small team that created the Volvo Universe Concept.

He has also worked as a mobile phone designer in Hong Kong and as a designer working on first class Airbus A380 cabins at a consultancy in London.

Recently, Ian has been awarded the prestigious annual Worshipful Company of Carmen Transport Design Award for his final RCA project.

Currently, he is looking for work as an automotive designer at major OEMs and is engaged in the interview and selection process with several global brands.

Contact Details:

(Image Courtesy: Ian Kettle)

Image Gallery

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