Monday, September 15, 2008

Designs inspired by Nature

I was waiting for the right time to blog about this topic. It’s been around for a while and we see it everyday in form of products, computer processes, packaging…and more iterations are coming. Yet, only until recently has the average Joe actually “learned” what biomimicry is and how we have essentially begun to integrate its aspects of nature into the design process.

Who is the expert in biomimicry?
Jane Benyus is one top name.

Why it matters?
Mother Nature designs things for a reason, with logic and purpose, which benefits a particular species.

Japan’s bullet train leveraged the kingfisher’s beak. This bird can dive from air into water with a minimal amount of resistance due to its beak. The aerodynamic design of the train reduces the sonic boom that occurs when the train passes from a tunnel back into the open air, reducing noise pollution.

We have platelets in our veins that act as guardians. They usually rush to the scene when we get a paper cut to stop the bleeding and help to heal our wounds. The same technology and process used by platelets inspired Brinker Technology when it came to maintaining the oil pipelines. Special “platelets” were designed to seal leaks and prevent cracks in the pipe walls by using a radioisotope that marks the location for engineers to investigate.

Showing colors for QualComm was a nature-inspired mirasol display, which conveys color in the way a butterfly shows off its brightly colored wings or a peacock displays its plumage – using light! Rather than showing pigmented pixels, tiny structures that variably reflect light in such a way that specific wavelengths of light interfere with one another to create vivid colors. This has helped cell phones and other electronics reduce their power consumption.
Of course there are many other examples - good and terribly bad case studies. I'd like to hear what examples you have seen in today's economy. Check out these good ones first by Jane Benyus.

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