What is Biomimicry? Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The core idea is that nature has already solved many of our most significant problems. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. After billions of years of evolution and optimization techniques, what surrounds us is the secret to survival.
Examples of Biomimicry
- Sustainable Buildings – Air conditioning system that is modeled on the self-cooling mounds of termites that maintain the temperature inside their nest to within one degree, day and night (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/architecture/)
- Strength Optimization of Materials – Concept of adding material where strength is needed and arranging material to minimize stress, which mimics trees and bones (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/industrial-design/)
- CO2 Filtration Systems – Human-made filters inspired by the way our lungs work that can remove over 90% of CO2 from various sources (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/climate-change/)
- Water and Stain Repellent – Materials that mimic the surface properties of water-repellent Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaves (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/natural-cleaning/)
- Noise Reduction of Bullet Trains – The front-end of trains are modeled after kingfishers, birds which dive from the air into bodies of water with very little splash to catch fish. This results not only in a quieter train, but 15% less electricity use even while the train travels 10% faster. (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/transportation/)
- Underwater Data Transmission – underwater sensors and modems for data transmission that warn people about tsunamis; models the communication of sound information by dolphins (http://biomimicry.net/about/biomimicry/case-examples/human-safety/)
Applying Biomimicry to Problem Solving
As you observe nature, keep these tips in mind:
- Use Natural Solutions Instead of Man-Made Solutions: It may be optimal to use solutions developed by nature through ages of evolution and trial-and-error, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
- Diversify your Approaches and Solutions: Develop a wide assortment of approaches and solutions that adequately differ from each other; this increases your chances of at least one solution enabling ideal results.
- Strive for Close-Loop Systems: Think ahead and consider how you can reuse your current resources and utilize resources from your external environment; this is a great way to save energy and time.
- Adapt your Offering to it’s External Environment: Everything in nature harmonizes with its environment. How can you create a situation where your offering can perform optimally in its external environment? What inefficiencies and redundancies can you correct?
- Identify Anti-Solutions: When you think about how nature might solve a problem, also consider how nature might not solve it.