According to Biomimicry.org, "biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf."
Today, many companies are using this emerging science to design their products. Amita Shukla has the story.
While biomimicry has long guided research in the life sciences, its influence is now reaching surprising new industries, from carpet factories to makers of computer chips. Entrepreneurs, product designers, and scientists are increasingly turning to nature to both improve existing products and develop entirely novel creations.
Let's look at this example of a new carpet.
In 2001, one of the world’s largest flooring companies sent a design team into the wild to ask, "How would nature design a carpet?" Today, the answer lies in office parks across the planet.
"It dawned on them that in nature no two things are alike and that there is a random distribution of diversity on the forest floor and in river beds," says Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Atlanta, GA-based Interface, Inc. Armed with that observation, the company designed a carpet called Entropy, which is installed using random tile patterns.
Shukla gives other examples, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, which studies mussels to design better adhesives, to Iridigm Display in San Francisco.
At Iridigm Display Corporation, researchers observed parallels between their technology -- micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) for mobile device displays -- and the structures that make iridescent patterns on a butterfly’s wings.
And IDEO's designers have studied the composition of natural structures such as the abalone shell to design better materials and used research on light diffraction on bird feathers to develop color without pigment.
Source: Amita Shukla, Technology Review, March 28, 2003
12:39:12 PM Permalink