- The imitation of natural biological designs or processes in engineering or invention.
- A method for creating solutions to human challenges by emulating designs and ideas found in nature.
“Companies seeking breakthrough products tend to ignore the greatest invention machine in the universe: life’s more than three-billion-year history of evolution by natural selection.”
Examples: (excerpts courtesy of Digital Trends).
BULLET TRAINS INSPIRED BY KINGFISHER BIRDS
Kingfisher birds have specialized beaks allowing them to dive into water to hunt while making a minimal splash. Utilizing this new nose, the next generation 500 series trains were 10 percent faster, consumed 15 percent less electricity
ABSORBING SHOCK LIKE A WOODPECKER
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered that woodpeckers have four structures designed to absorb mechanical shock. The bird’s semi-elastic beak, an area of “spongy bone” material behind the skull, and cerebrospinal fluid all work in unison to extend the time over which this concussion occurs and therefore inhibiting vibration. Based on this multifaceted design, the team is working to create an array applications ranging from more shock-resistant flight recorders (black boxes) to micrometeorite-resistant spacecrafts.
VENTILATION SYSTEMS INSPIRED BY TERMITES
Using an intricate network of intentionally air pockets, termite mounds create a natural ventilation system using convection. The engineering firm Arup built an entire shopping center in Zimbabwe based on this natural convection system. Currently the system uses 10 percent less energy than a traditional air-conditioned facility.
Other examples of how biomimicry spurred innovation include Velcro (from the tiny hooks at the end of burrs), bird safe glass (from UV reflective strands in spider webs), and coatings for ship’s hulls, submarines, aircraft, and even swimwear for humans (from shark skin).
What are you building? Next time you go for a hike or are in nature, look around. A breakthrough or inspiration for your design or product may just be right next to you.