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travel/sensocar.jpgThe car of tomorrow may have functionality that you never even dreamed of. The Senso concept car is being labeled as the most sensuous car in the world.

You see, Senso actually "senses" the driver by measuring his (or her) biometric data, and then exerts a positive effect on him with the help of patterns, colors, music and fragrances. A person who is relaxed and wide-awake simply drives better and more safely.

The developers of the concept car speak, not surprisingly, of "Zen-sorial" - with reference to Far Eastern meditation. On the basis of the measured data, the driver now receives various impulses to his senses that put him in a state of relaxed attentiveness. The idea of 'communicating surfaces' stems from Andreas Fischer, a designer who developed the "zenMotion concept" at the Institute for Computer Sciences at the University of Zurich in close cooperation with the Institute for Psychology at the University of Innsbruck. The inspiration for the development came from studies by scientists dealing with the emotional effect of moving patterns on people. In the Senso - depending on the condition of the driver - four small Sharp LCD monitors emit stimulating (orange/yellow), relaxing (blue/violet) or neutral (green) color patterns into the driver's line of vision. They are integrated into the futuristically designed interior paneling, which lights up over the entire area and bathes the cockpit in dazzle-free ambient light.

It is all made possible by an innovative electroluminescent film technology developed by Bayer MaterialScience and the Swiss electronics specialist, Lumitec. This "smart surface technology" is celebrating its world premiere in the automotive industry. Johannes Seesing: "In the Senso, we are showing what breathtaking possibilities this new technology can open up for car designers. The glowing material can be made into any shape and does not need electric bulbs or LEDs." The high-tech surface is computer-controlled and, depending on the applied voltage, shines green, blue or orange.

The optical stimuli are reinforced by specially composed sounds stored digitally on a computer. In addition to the eyes and ears, the nose is stimulated, too - by scents developed by the fragrances specialist, CWS/Voitino, which flow into the car through the ventilators. Vanilla-mandarin has a calming effect, while citrus-grapefruit is more stimulating. Even the tactile senses are included: should the central computer establish any symptoms of tiredness in the driver, electric motors integrated in the seat will shake him awake by vibrating.

The whole project is based on an elaborate sensory system that forms the heart of the vehicle. It consists of a number of sensors that have the job of gathering data about the driver's condition. Firstly, there is a biometric Polar watch to measure the driver's pulse. A "Mobile Eye" camera records his driving behavior, in other words how well and how often he changes lane, and how close and at what speed he approaches the cars in front. Then - this, at any rate, is the vision - a HP board computer evaluates the data and establishes, with the aid of special algorithms, the driver's current state of mind.

Senso also has a radical - perhaps even controversial - design, too. In particular, the clear-cut, no-nonsense design of the interior puts the driver very much in the spotlight. The driver sits alone in the middle of the front row, flanked behind by two Recaro passenger seats covered with Italian designer fabrics from X-Mobil. On the subject of design, the use of carbon parts in both the interior and the exterior gives the overall car a cool, technical look. The carbon components were custom-made by hand at MP Design.

The exterior shape of the vehicle borrow from the world of architecture, structures man has created over the centuries. As such, it creates a tension-filled dynamic between moving and non-moving objects. The two-part structure of the rear end is reminiscent of bold roof constructions and deep chasms between ranks of skyscrapers. The interplay between smooth curves and sharp edges evokes attractive industrial architecture.

To produce these contours, the makers have used a number of high-tech materials such as the fully recyclable composite for the bodywork. The striking Speedster windscreen is made of high-grade MakrolonĀ® polycarbonate - like the rear end, which is reminiscent of the modern facade of a high-rise building. The window has a scratchproof coating and weighs little more than half as much as a conventional car windscreen. It is also considerably more break-resistant, and opens up entirely new possibilities for car designers.

A breathtaking body such as this naturally needs to be clad in extravagant accessories that are not simply available off the peg: The eggshell matt special effect finish on the Senso, which was produced using coating raw materials developed in Bayer's laboratories, is truly custom-made and only available this once for the Rinspeed Senso. A soft-feel clear coat of the same shade in the interior additionally provides a pleasant, soft-feel surface.Ā