Nano Bolts: A Design Fiction

design fiction

Nano Bolts: a design fiction

Nano Bolts is a Design Fiction cereal created by Kellogg’s of the future, containing nanorobots to support healthy cybernetic enhancements. Design Fiction combines elements of design, fact and science fiction to materialise those ideas into things that tell stories (Bleecker 2009).

Human enhancement is when medical techniques improve the human body beyond what is required to function or maintain good health. Examples include Lasik surgery, pharmaceuticals, prosthetics, and cybernetics. Cybernetics, often implanted directly into the brain or body, have increased risks of implants causing haemorrhaging, trauma and infection (Moulin 2021). Whilst science is rapidly growing in these fields, cybernetics using brain-computer interfaces or prosthetics that surpass standard human functionality will become commonplace (Bookman 2010). But how will maintenance be carried out on these cybernetic enhancements? Particularly those that are embedded directly within the brain?

The food sector currently utilises nanomaterials to adjust fat/sugar content and ensure products stay fresher for longer (Paddock 2012). Meanwhile, Nanotechnology is used in medicine for diagnosis, regeneration and pharmaceutical delivery (Soares et al., 2018). But what if the future takes this to the next level by including nanorobotics in our food?

Nano Bolts does this by including nanorobotics in a breakfast cereal to support healthy cybernetic enhancements.

Design Fiction Nano Bolts by Danielle Ramsay
Design Fiction Nano Bolts by Danielle Ramsay
Design Fiction Nano Bolts by Danielle Ramsay

I have set the Design Fiction, the Nano Bolts cereal box, in a current kitchen setting as the future accretes. At first glance, it doesn’t appear out of the ordinary. But closer inspection reveals a few subtle details about Nano Bolts that evoke the future:

  • It contains Multilatent Ions, a made-up term for a nanomaterial interfacing between nanorobots and biological components.
  • Graphene flakes are included, used in nanotechnology as a conductive material.
  • Nanorobots are a crucial ingredient.
  • The box states “supports healthy cybernetic enhancements”.
  • One of the eyes of the girl also appears different to what we understand as usual today. It has a glowing red ring, representing cybernetic enhancements as we often see them in the sci-fi genre.
Design Fiction Nano Bolts by Danielle Ramsay

Some visual clues represented through imagery intend to make the design believable as a Kellogg’s product. These include:

  • The images are reproductions of Kellogg’s visual media images used on social media. 
  • The package design takes its visual cues from cereal box packaging and includes logos, health rating, weight, nutritional panel, bar codes and best before date.
  • The Nano Bolts logo follows Kellogg’s visual theme of replacing the ‘Os’ with the cereal.
  • There is an overly large bowl of cereal pictured in the bottom portion of the front design.

These are all elements common to Kellogg’s cereal packaging and give purchase to a convincing scenario. 

Kellogg's Cereal Social Media Imagery
Kellogg's Cereal Social Media Imagery used as a reference for the Design Fiction

In this Design Fiction, Cybernetic Enhancements and nanorobots are common enough to be included in children’s breakfast cereal, which is an alarming realisation. This understanding of the future implies a lot, including:

  • Scientific and technological developments are advanced.
  • Body augmentation through embedded cybernetic enhancements is commonplace.
  • These enhancements are socially acceptable to the point that developing children’s bodies are being augmented.
  • Noting that only one eye has cybernetics implies that it isn’t due to a medical issue. It alludes to the alteration being a choice to improve body functionality beyond human capabilities. 

There is a genuine ethical debate surrounding this subject. Still, the fact that this process is so commonly accepted in cereal implies the moral concern isn’t an issue for this Design Fiction. 

Design Fiction Nano Bolts by Danielle Ramsay

As a Design Fiction, Nano Bolts makes the viewer consider the possibility of a future where human cybernetic enhancements are commonplace. Further, it explores possible scenarios on how these embedded technologies are maintained and serviced within our bodies.

But it also answers my own need for storytelling and embedding a sense of fun into my design work. How else can a bland beige cereal evolve beyond itself into something exciting and relevant for the future?

References

Bleecker, J 2009, ‘Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction’, Near Future Laboratory, viewed 1 November 2021, https://blog.nearfuturelaboratory.com/2009/03/17/design-fiction-a-short-essay-on-design-science-fact-and-fiction/

Bookman, CR, 2010, ‘Cybernetic-enhancement technology and the future of disability law’, Iowa Law Review, vol. 95, no. 4, pp. 1315–1340.

Moulin, T 2021, ‘Doctors Playing Gods? The Legal Challenges in Regulating the Experimental Stage of Cybernetic Human Enhancement’, Israel Law Review, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 236–262, doi: 10.1017/S0021223721000054.

Paddock, C 2012, ‘Nanotechnology In Medicine: Huge Potential, But What Are The Risks?’, Medical News Today, viewed 5 November 2021, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244972

Soares, S, Sousa, J, Pais, A, & Vitorino, C 2018, ‘Nanomedicine: Principles, properties, and regulatory issues’, Frontiers in Chemistry, vol. 6, pp. 360–360, doi: 10.3389/fchem.2018.00360.

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