Collaborating with surgeons, engineers and scientists to envision a new neural interface.
Operating at the forefront of Brain Computer Interfaces, Neuralink allows people to control assistive technologies with their very thoughts, opening up new pathways for individuals with paralysis, neurological diseases, and other conditions to interact with and manipulate the world around them. Eventually, the technology hopes to scale to non-medical applications, supplying a link between the human brain and novel technologies.
Our assignment was to help begin the process of productizing Neuralink’s Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology into a discreet wearable device that balances comfort along with the numerous technical and physiological constraints that must be met for a system like this to work effectively.
- User testing/Validation
- ID form development/Surfacing
- Early Stage Design for Manufacturing
- Creative Production
The process of designing the first generation Neuralink Link device involved a rare combination of traditional consumer electronics design process combined with the study of cranial physiology and neurosurgical procedures. The goal with the device system was to be simple for users to put on and take off as well as to be visually discrete and have a reasonable battery life.
Everyone’s body is different. That’s why we began this design process by first created a database of ear shapes that would allow us to better understand the similarities and differences between people’s head shapes.
Based on this deeper understanding and a deep collaboration between our internal mechanical engineering team and our client’s surgical staff, we were able to align on a specific system configuration that would allow for the most practical surgical intervention. With this clarity we began to iterate on the wearable form factor to find a shape that would accommodate most ear shapes.
As the technology solution was beginning to take shape we coordinated the production of several appearance models to evaluate color, material and finishes of the devices while also coordinating a photography shoot with a variety of different models in order to begin to visualize how the Link would look and feel on people. These images ended up being utilized by Neuralink for their main media push.
Upon completion of the N1 Link device, we continued our collaboration with Neuralink developing the R1 robot, which is the robot carrying out the surgical procedure. The most crucial part of the R1 is the section that surrounds the patient’s head and is populated with a dense combination of electromechanical components.
The robot has five degrees of freedom that enable it to maneuver smoothly around the patient’s head. To design the robot cladding, we had to clearly understand the various directions of movement in order to ensure the safe operation of the robot at all times.
We wanted to take the robot’s complex engineering and make it feel less intimidating for patients. By covering up a lot of the technology we were able to remove the visual complexity, creating softer and more welcoming forms.
The N1 was presented by Elon Musk during the Neuralink Launch event in August of 2019 and the photography we created for the N1 was part of the media kit that was part of that launch. There were six units produced of the R1 robot that was presented at the September 2020 Event and the robot cladding is still being used for future iterations.