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Bio-inspired design characterisation and its links with problem solving tools

  • active innovation management

Abstract and Figures

Although bio-inspiration is a well-known instrument for innovation, the problem-solving process that leads to the solution has not been fully investigated yet. The purpose of this article is to understand what bio-inspiration is, by defining its relative concepts and boundaries. After the outlining of a generic biomimetic process, a direct correspondence with TRIZ tools is presented. Each phase of the proposed process has been classified according to the type of tool that is needed. For the two first class, an ideal set of features has been defined.
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Dubrovnik - Croatia, May 19 - 22, 2014.
P-E Fayemi, N. Maranzana, A. Aoussat and G. Bersano
Keywords: Biomimetics, Design methods, Bio-inspired Design, TRIZ
1. Introduction
Design activities have a significant influence on human health and quality of life. It requires a certain
knowledge to perform a design process. This knowledge may come from various sources such as people
designers, experts, etc.), products or processes, and can be different in its nature [Hatchuel, 2003],
making their aggregation more difficult to designers. Those bits of knowledge and their wider scope of
points of origin lighten the current dissolving of the scientific disciplines, combined with the
development of highly specialized domains [Kostoff, 2008 ;Schöfer, 2013].
The efficteveness of use of biology knowledge, often combined with other scientific disciplines, as
source of innovation, has been demonstrated throughout history of mankind [Simon, 1983]. In early
times, human beings observed animals and mimicked their hunting, shelter and survival behaviors. In
Renaissance times, Leonardo da Vinci already tried to mechanically understand how birds fly to design
his first flying machine. Bio-inspired design enjoyed a new boom in the 50’s thanks to aerospace, marine
and automotive industry and, to a minor extent, cybernetics and complex system modelling. During the
80’s bio-inspired design has grown on micro and macroscopic levels in the light of biotechnology
[Schmitt, 1960; Steele, 1960; Gleich et al., 2010; Bar-Cohen, 2011]. Keeping these facts in mind, the
transfer of principles from world of living organisms towards technology is, therefore, by no means a
new phenomenon. However, streamlining the approach, defining bio-inspiration as a scientific
discipline, a method, or a philosophy crystallises the novelty. Bio-inspiration, as a contemporary
concept, defines itself as an attempt to develop innovations by combining biology and technology. Its
theoretical base takes advantage of the optimisation of biological structures, functions, processes and
systems by successive evolutions which characterises living organisms.
The article will firstly raise issues upon definitions and conceptual boundaries of the terms related with
the bio-inspired design. After the presentation of biomimetics case studies, the focus of the article, driven
on a theorical level, will be set on the generation of a generic problem driven biomimetic process. The
tools and methods than BID can reap advantage from will therefore be addressed.
2. State of the art of semantics
Bio-inspiration is a domain with a proliferation of terms. It is therefore interesting to take a closer look
at them. The first term to appear in modern literature is “biomimetic” which according to the Oxford
English Dictionary is indexed in the volume 132 of Science, published in December 1960. The index
refers to two published articles, defining the term as devices which simulate biological functions. It is
also in 1960 that the term “bionics” is used for the first time, in a scientific article [Steele, 1960], without
being explicitly defined. Still in 1960 the Merridian Webster Dictionary defines bionics as a “a science
concerned in the application of data about the functioning of biological systems to the solution of
engineering problems”. Biomimicry emerged much later, in 1997 [Benyus, 1997] as the eco-design part
of bio-inspiration. It emphazises the resilient aspect of provided solutions. Combining the prefix bio-,
from greek “bio” meaning life, and the suffix mimesis from the greek mimeisthai meaning imitate.
By its use from environmental lobbies, the biomimicry term enjoyed a strong position, especially in the
United-States, where it has its origins, and it is now the most commonly used term among bio-
Reading all these definitions consecutively brings their lack of clarity to evidence. That lack of well
defined boundaries between terms leads to redundancy of concepts and confusion of goals and aims.
Nowadays, as acknowledged by Vincent [Vincent, 2006], biomimetics tends to become a synonym of
biomimicry, biomimesis or even biognosis, whereas they are all equivalent to bio-inspiration. This
situation leads to an inappropriate use of terms and contributes to “green washingin this emergent
A cross analysis of the literature, partially carried out within a standardization committee, leads us to
propose the following new definitions:
Biomimetics: Interdisciplinary creative process between biology and technology, aiming at solving
antrophospheric problems through abstraction, transfer and application of knowledge from biological
Biomimicry/Biomimesis: philosophy that takes-up challenges related to resilience (social, environmental
and economic ones), by being inspired from living organisms, particularly on an organizational level.
Bionics: technical discipline that seeks to replicate, increase or replace biological functions by their
electronic and/or mechanical equivalents.
Figure 1. Bio-inspiration and linked concepts boundaries map
These new definitions, in a more precise way, define the conceptual boundaries of each term, as shown
in fig.1. However, they do not allow to overcome interpretation issues, even if they are reducing them,
with the areas in which they apply.
3. Biomimetic cases studies analysis
Theorised by Janine Benyus [Benyus 1997], bio-inspiration could be achieved according to three levels.
The first one comes down to mimicking form. The second level overcomes form to reach the
mimicking of natural proceses, where focus is set on mimicking structures and functions. The third and
last level concerns mimicking the strategies of the living. Its goal is to reproduce the relationships of a
mature ecosystem in constant interaction and dynamic homeostasis with its environments.
In this section 3, biomimetics case studies, considered as classics in BID literature, will be presented
according to their level of inspiration and their methodological output analysed.
3.1. Inspiration of form: Shinkansen
The Shinkansen, also called the Japanese bullet train is the fastest railway train in the world, travelling
at more than 300 km per hour through urban areas. Sudden changes of air pressure combined with its
high speed cause a thunder clap every time the train emerges from a tunnel. That noise and the proximity
of the railway lines to residential areas was a significant issue. Eiji Nakatsu, Director of theTechnical
Development and Test Operation Department of JR-West, was in charge of dealing with this noise
situation. Infatuated with ornithology, he drew inspiration from the sharp and longilineal shape of the
Kingfisher's head, able to glide through the air and precisely dive into water to snag fish with no splash.
The fundamental problem is the same in both world, to make the transition from a low pressure
environment which is air for the Kingfiher, to high pressure environment which is water for the
Kingfisher. Several other inspirations from living organisms were used trying to improve the
Shinkansen’s impact on surrounding homes. The first one was serrations from Owl’s primary feathers
as source of inspiration to limit vibrations of the pantograph. The second one was the spindle shape like
the one of the body of the Adelie Penguin, used to reduce the degree of wind resistance of the supporting
frame of the pantograph.
By combining all these different inspirations of forms from living organisms, the West Japan Railway
Company reduced the energy consumption of the train by 15%, while travelling 10% faster within
existing acoustic standards.
This example shows that when the required technical expertise and biological knowledge are
concentrated in a single person, the biomimetic process does not seem more complex than a classic
design process.
3.2. Inspiration of process: Gecko tape [Geim, 2003]
That adhesive tape is a material with synthethic nanotubes mimicking the tiny hairs known as setae of
the gecko's foot. In nature, flexible filaments packed at 5,000 per mm2 create Van-der-Waals bonds
that cause a powerful adhesion effect. Expected applications range from undersea to spatial
Following the first attempt, scientists became aware of the significant need of energy to detach their
band from the surface. After several usage cycles, tensions exerted on the nanotubes were so high that
the tape wasn’t able to fulfill its function anymore.The geckno twists its setae when moving, creating
angle and variation in their relative distance, reducing Van-der-Waals forces. With this process, the
gecko is able to run without its adhesion mechanism becoming a constraint. Researchers response to
this issue was to replace polyamide filaments with more resistant polypropene ones. The need of clean
surfaces is another phenomenon that has only been identified following the completion of the study. The
tape tends to rapidly loose its adhesive capacity by amassing dust particles. In the living world, the gecko
keeps its “adhering surface” in operating condition by continually licking its paws combined with self-
cleaning capacity. Scientists have not been able to take up this technological challenge for a long time.
Regardless of the scientific success of this study, the gecko tape case shows that in order to lead to an
industrial success, a biomimetic process must take into account every surrounding element of the desired
function. Otherwise efficiency of concepts developed could be seriously affected or even null, unable to
be transformed into technological successes.
3.3. Inspiration of system: Eastgate Centre [Turner 2008]
The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, was built in 1996, following several years of study of termite
mounds, lead by the architect Mick Pearce and the scientist Scott Turner. Termite mounds have the
fascinating ability to maintain In a passive way a specific temperature, 31°C ± 1°C, with ambient
temperatures ranged from 3°C to 42°C. Insects achieve this prowess thanks to the thermal capacity of
the mound material combined with fungal-based cooling vents, managing a carefully adjusted
convection current system throughout the structure.
The passive ventilation system of the Harare Eastgate Centre wasn’t a success, temperature could not
be kept steady. Installation of low-speed fans on the first floor of the building resulted in tremendous
improvements. Due to its design, the Eastgae Centre claims a consumption of 10% of a standard building
of a similar size.
Theorically the project failed; design did not succeed in passively controlling the tempature. Practically
the project succedded, owners of the building saved almost 3.5 billions of dollars by not installing a
standard ventilation system, inhabitants rent their accommodation 20% less than inhabitants of the
surrounding buildings. Impaired version of living systems could therefore still lead to impactfull
innovations without matching the ideality of its model(s) of inspiration.
These few examples coupled with other ones described in literature allow us to draw some general
conclusions. Biomimetics doesn’t necessarily imply sustainability. For example, superhydrophobic
coatings based on the lotus effect are still produced from the distillation of petroleum. Some biomimetic
solutions even lead to new technical or ethical difficulties. Spider silk fiber synthesis that may involve
transgenic mammals illustrates this fact.
Some solutions, without breaching their relevance or efficiency, presented as biomimetic are not
legitimate. Energy production from articifial seaweed belongs to bio-inspiration/bio-assistance but not
to biomimetics. Products developed thanks to evolutionary algorithms also do not fit the biomimetics
requirement mentioned in the proposed definitions as they are not inspired from a identified biological
model. Presented solutions for commercial purposes such as current biomimetic cosmetics, as they do
not offer any transfer step, are another typical example of mislabelled biomimetic products.
As a consequence, the definitions presented in section 2 make it easier to determine if debatable cases
are biomimetic or not.
In the search for innovative solutions, biomimetics act as a supplement to the classic methods for
developing new ideas, as a way of approaching scientific engineering work methods. Living organisms
and their amazing adaptations offer a virtually infinite number of potentially relevant solutions from a
technological point of view.
4. Characterisation of a generic biomimetic method
As seen in section 3, what distinguishes bio-inspired real success cases from others seems entwined with
the logical process adopted during design phases. Thus, it is this design strategy that distinguishes bio-
inspired accidents from biomimetic products. It seems thus important, not to let aside biomimetic
methodological aspects when tackling bio-inspiration as a pratical research field of interest.
The number of scientific researchers and industrial practitioners related to bio-inspiration is growing but
transferring knowledge from biology to technology is still a complex process. Methodogy as a starting
point could lead to improvement in simplyfing such approach.
It is then interesting to draw a correlation between this kind of approach and methods and tools from the
“classical” literature of design in order to identify means biomimetics can reap advantages of. Several
design tools and methods exist, Lahonde categorized them into different families [Lahonde 2010].
Regarding table 1 and the purpose of these different clusters, biomimetics coincides largely with creative
methods. Given that creativity tools and methods tend in their purpose to solve a problem, every aspect
of a biomimetic approach could be put in perspective with problem solving theories, methods and/or
tools, which are by far described in more detail within literature of design.
Table 1. Extract of design methods clusters (translated from [lahonde 2010])
Exemples de méthodes
- Satisfaire les besoins des consommateurs
- Assurer le succès commercial du produit
Enquêtes par sondage
Opinions d’expert
Traduire le besoin du client et des utilisateurs dans
un langage exploitable techniquement
Analyse Fonctionnelle
Interne et Externe
- Innover et se démarquer de ses concurrents
- Trouver des solutions originales
Matrice de découverte
Sûreté de
- Satisfaire les fonctions dans conditions données
- Maîtriser les risques
Soutien Logistique Intégré
- Prendre en compte l’environnement
- Respecter la réglementation
Analyse du Cycle de Vie
4.1. Steps of a classical problem solving
Problem solving is a cross disciplinary concept. Its terminologies and perspectives may differ from the
domain in which it is applied, for instance, it is a mental process in psychology but a computerized
process in computer science. Either way, problem solving can be described as a logical process that
consists in both sense-making and action-taking. Using a phase or stage description, the problem solving
process consists in a 5 steps process [Massey&Wallace 1996]:
1. Identification: process by which a model is developed by assembling components and
relationships from the stimuli that led to the recognition and identification of the problem.
2. Definition: Process by which the problem is analysed in order to identify the possible causes,
the root causes or the main causes.
3. Alternative generation: Creative process by which unique solutions or groups of solutions are
generated attempting to solve identified causes.
4. Choice of a solution between ideas generated to solve the inital problem.
5. Implementation and testing: Implement the choice of a solution in the initial problem and
resolve issues and challenges underlying. Evaluate the final solution, ensure results achieved
and disseminate related information.
4.2. Steps of a generic biomimetic method
Biomimetic could be used with two separated ways, solution driven method or problem driven method.
The solution driven method assumes a biological system that performs a function that the engineer wants
to emulate as a starting point. The process is focused on abstracting the biological system so that the
designer can then use the functional model to inspire an engineering design concept.
The problem driven method assumes that there is a specific behaviour/function that the designer wishes
to perform. The process is focused on determining the biological systems that need to be considered for
inspiration. The rest of the article will focus now on on the problem driven (PD) method of biomimetics.
The bioinspired problem driven process has already been described within literature. Bogatyrev and
Vincent outline a 6-step process which focuses on extracting essential features from biological models
in order to translate them into technological knowledge [Bogatyrev, 2008]. Helms et al. define a 6 step
problem-driven biologically inspired design process [Helms, 2009] which provides iterative feedback
and refinement loops. This process has been adapted by Vattam et al. to develop the DANE approach
[Vattam, 2011]. Nagel et al. proposed a 7-step process which starts from the identification of the
biological system of reference, and focuses on the functional establishment of a pattern/model of
biological models [Nagel, 2010].
By analysing examples among the bio-inspiration literature from the prism of a cross analysis of the
problem- driven above-mentioned processes with regard to the definitions outlined in section 2.2, a new
logical pattern can be established. This pattern is articulated around 9 different steps:
1. Define the human needs/challenge.
2. Abstract the technical problem by selecting appropriate functions and constraints.
3. Translate the abstracted technical problem into a biological challenge.
4. Identify potential biological models that solve the translated abstract problem.
5. Select the biological model of interest amongst potential candidates.
6. Abstract biological strategies from the selected biological model in order to reduce the number
of constraints.
7. Translate these identified biological strategies into a technological challenge.
8. Resolve issues related to solving the technical challenge of implementing the final solution to
the initial situation.
9. Evaluate the final solution, ensure results achieved match the initial expectations, initiate steps
related to improving the generated design.
Refering to the work of Massey and Wallace, the problem driven biomimetic process could be
schematised as follows:
Table 2. Problem driven biomimetic process in regards of solving problem process
of a
5.Implementation and testing
into a
model of
into a
al challenge
to the initial
Structured that way, designers are more willingly to understand what is involved in a biomimetic
process. Biologists who experienced bio-inspired design, or intend to, could also correlate the approach
with a classical problem solving process, and its description in literature.
4.3 Link with inventive methods
Having identified the generic steps, it appears that a link exists between biomimetics and inventive
methods and more specifically with TRIZ.
Figure 2. TRIZ process for creative problem solving
The figure 3 presents the classical triz process, illustrated in figure 2, applied to the generic problem
driven biomimetic process.
Figure 3. Link between TRIZ and biomimetics
The outline of the problem driven biomimetic process appears as a double TRIZ cycle, which
corroborates Vandevenne’s proposed SBID approach [Vandevenne, 2013]. The left part of the figure,
the first cycle, focuses on a technology to biology process while the right part of the figure tackles its
way back, from biology to technology.
Between these two parts of the figure lays a pivotal step, the selection of the biological model(s) of
interest. This step seems crucial as it stands as a support for the whole biology to technology approach.
A lack of equivalence between technogical and biological constraints when it comes to chosing a model
of inspiration would more likely lead to unefficient final solutions.
Looking at the major steps of the process, the global cycles suggest that making technologists and
biologists work together, the ones after the others with a translation steps between their output might
appear as the right process. With a closer look, the figure emphasises the intertwining aspect of both
cycles. Each cycle requires knowledge coming from both worlds in its sequence implying technologists
and biologists not only to work the ones after the others but to cooperate. That need of synergy between
biology and technology represents the difficulty in the background of any bio-inspired process. The
current response aims at reducing the need of involved interdiscinirarity instead of facilitating it. For
that purpose, tools such as databases are developed. These databases focus on gathering and formalising
biological knowledge in a way they can be accessible to technicians.
5. TRIZ tools potential use regarding the problem driven biomimetic process
Biomimetics offers a unique possibility, the ability to provide methods, guidelines and tools that could
rely on more than 3.8 billion years history of challenge solving thanks to natural selection. In many
fields, living organisms outperform man-made solutions by far and biomimetic solutions are thus widely
regarded as not only being ingenious, but also being ecologically sound, and resilient. Biomimetics are
not, however, free of weaknesses. Constraints regarding interdisciplinarity in making technical
engineers work with biologic material and biologists, and vice-versa, as mentioned in section 4, are not
easy tasks. Similarly, the inherent need, with intervals of various depth, of fundamental research in
particular during the step of biological strategie(s) abtraction, tend to lengthen the design cycles
compared to non biomimetics ones. Thus, it seems interesting to identify from which tools and design
approaches biomimetics could benefit in order to compensate the weaknesses mentioned above.
With its link to TRIZ, it is now interesting to figure out which TRIZ based tool could be used theorically
at each step in order to fulfill its purpose. Based on Schöfer’s work [Schöfer 2013] which emphasises
Savransky’s [Savransky 2002] and Nakagawa’s [Nakagawa_2003] previous work, we propose in table
2 a mapping of TRIZ tools regarding the problem driven biomimetic generic process steps.
Table 3. Match between TRIZ tools and generic problem driven biomimetic process
Choice of
a solution
Implementation and testing
Define the
human needs
into a
Select the
model of
into a
l challenge
to the
9 windows
on of
The theory of inventive problem solving seems to offer, cf. table 3, a wealth of tools which might be
capable of addressing the specific needs outlined. Tools coming from TRIZ tackle entirely the
identification and the definition of problem solving steps. The implementing and testing phase is only
partially addressed. Tools ogirinating from TRIZ only focus the first half of the mentioned phase.
TRIZ listed tools do not seems to offer tools focusing on alternative generation or even choice of
solution which was define as a critical step in section 4.3.
6. Relevance of TRIZ tools for BID methods?
The choise of tools, according to the process, has been outlined but nothing allows biomimetic designers
to choose which tool or set of tools to use regarding their relevance to the task. For this purpose, we
need to compare tools. It makes no sense to compare tools with different objectives, thus an appropriate
classification has been achieved. Definitions in section 2, indicate that every biomimetic approach
implies abstraction, transfer and application. Therefore, an attribute, “abstraction”, “transfer” or
“application is assigned to each step of the biomimetic process according to its main output step goal.
To match BID literature, another attribute has been added to the ones mentioned in the definition. This
attribute, evaluate, classifies tools that analyses the global/whole process and allows designers to
initiate counter-measures or even to loop to another cycle.
Results are shown in table 4:
Table 4. Steps of a generic biomimetic method and their classification
Choice of a
Implementation and testing
into a
Select the
model of
into a
to the
It is noticeable that the first abstraction step, the one that occurs in the technical field, includes two
distinct sub-steps, one which deals with identification aspects and the other involving abstraction. The
abstraction step intervening in the biological field involves exclusively abstraction. Sub-targets and
means involved to achieve these steps differ, even if concerned parties share the same overall objective.
With these different classes of tools identified, comparing tools from the same category is now possible.
A list of criteria has been established in order to do so.
The list of TRIZ tools shown in table 3 does not offer “application” or “evaluate” tools, therefore the
reminder of the article will focus on “asbstracting” and “transfering” tools.
6.1. Abstracting tools.
Abstracting tools, as mentioned before, due to the first abstraction step, the biological one, pursued two
different objectives: problem identification and problem modelling. To fulfill those objectives from the
theoretical contribution point of view an ideal abstracting tool should
Be able to model complex problems in order to fit as much cases as possible;
Strongly integrate different systemic levels to allow designers to model their problems
Effectively filter information regarding its significance for the problem solving process, to avoid
overflowing designers with information they do not need;
Establish a very strong access to the problem in a generic way in order to allow its translation
into a biological challenge;
Completely maintain specific constraints with respect to the generated generic problem by
avoiding an over generification of the problem which could lead to identification of biological
models that do not solve the original technical problem.
From the practical/operational point of view, an ideal abstracting tool
Should be able to be implemented with very short time;
Could be used instinctively, without need of any training;
Should be as efficient when used as a stand-alone tool than used within other tools;
Could be used in any scientific or industrial domain without need of adjustment;
Should have the same efficiency when used by a single designer than with a group of designers;
Should facilitate the use of subsequent tools by offering an up-stream support of their
6.2. Tansfer tools
The transferring tools, which are involved in translating a technical problem into a biological challenge
and vice-versa, imply idea generation. To fulfill this objective, an ideal transferring tool should
Only point at a unique solution;
Be able to strongly enlarge designer(s) knowledge if necessary;
Allow the designer to completely sub-modularize generated solution(s) to enhance versatility
of the generated concept;
Generate solution(s) with high level of inventiveness.
The practical/operational criteria remain the same as for the abstracting tools.
7. Conclusion
Although bio-inspiration is a well-known instrument for innovation, the problem-solving process that
leads to the solution has not yet been exhaustively investigated. Thus, each step of a process of bio-
inspiration is quite permissive. The purpose of this article was to understand what bio-inspiration is, by
defining its relative concepts and boundaries. Biomimetics would therefore be limited to the
methodological aspects of bio-inspiration; bionics would define a discipline which seeks to emulate
bioogy through mechanical means; biomimicry would be a philosophy which involves the bio-
inspiration part related to sustainability. Following these statements, the article tackled how bio-
inspiration can be supported by existing problem-solving tools and processes. A general process for bio-
inspiration has been logically extrapolated from literature analysis coupled with several case studies,
and it has been compared with a classical problem-solving process. This analogy allows a generalization
on the use of problem-solving tools to support biomimetics. Using a similarity with the TRIZ way of
thinking, a direct correspondence with TRIZ tools has been presented. Each phase of the proposed
process has been classified according to the type of tool that is needed: “abstracting tool”, “transferring
tool”, “implementation tool” and “evaluation tool”. For the two first class, an ideal set of features has
been defined.
The analysis detailed in the article could be extended to other TRIZ and non-TRIZ tool, especially to
identify tools that could fulfill “application” and “evaluation” needs that tools mentioned in the article
don’t seem to address. The article focuses on the problem driven biomimetic method, the same work
could be performed with the solution driven method.The addition of a framework aiming at quantifying
synergy between tools would be a great improvement. That framework would allow designers to
identify the number of seqsuential tools needed to fulfill a single step. In the end the work described in
this article could also be used as a template to compare qualitively existing biomimetics tools but also
methods, with methods being an assembly of tools. It could be a way to compare what means are used
and what are their goals. On the bottom line, it could lead to identify biomimetics methodological gaps.
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Pierre-Emmanuel Fayemi Ph.D Student
Ph.D Student
Arts et Métiers ParisTech, LCPI Active Innovation Management SARL
151, Boulevard de l’Hôpital 7, Rue de la Croix Martre
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... • Problem-driven: starts with a technical problem for which relevant biological systems have to be identified. A well-known example is the Shinkansen bullet train whose shape is inspired by the Kingfisher bird [12] -this shape enables the bird to move from air (low-density medium) to water (high-density medium) without splash, and similarly enables the train to move from a tunnel (highdensity medium) to open air (low-density medium) without producing a loud sonic boom. With the aid of an expert biologist the problem-driven process can lead to novel solutions relatively quickly, typically a functional prototype is built within six to eighteen months. ...
... Second, many of the tools and methods used during biom* processes are tailored to engineers [9,14,15]. Such tools and methods aim to reduce the complexity of biom* processes, e.g., by helping with the identification of biological analogies or the understanding of a biological system [12,14]. However, it is possible to argue that these tools and methods primarily aim to replace biologists or delay their intervention [15]. ...
... Bionics, for example, has a strong focus on technological innovation to emulate biology, while biomimicry is more a design philosophy that seeks to resolve problems in ways that are both environmentally friendly and optimal [15,41]. We follow the definition for biomimetics by Fayemi et al. [12], namely "the interdisciplinary creative process between biology and technology, aiming to solve technospheric problems through abstraction, transfer and application of knowledge from biological models". ...
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Engineering inspired by biology – recently termed biom* – has led to various groundbreaking technological developments. Example areas of application include aerospace engineering and robotics. However, biom* is not always successful and only sporadically applied in industry. The reason is that a systematic approach to biom* remains at large, despite the existence of a plethora of methods and design tools. In recent years computational tools have been proposed as well, which can potentially support a systematic integration of relevant biological knowledge during biom*. However, these so-called Computer-Aided Biom* (CAB) tools have not been able to fill all the gaps in the biom* process. This thesis investigates why existing CAB tools fail, proposes a novel approach – based on Information Extraction – and develops a proof-of-concept for a CAB tool that does enable a systematic approach to biom*. Key contributions include: 1) a disquisition of existing tools guides the selection of a strategy for systematic CAB, 2) a dataset of 1,500 manually-annotated sentences, 3) a novel Information Extraction approach that combines the outputs from a supervised Relation Extraction system and an existing Open Information Extraction system. The implemented exploratory approach indicates that it is possible to extract a focused selection of relations from scientific texts with reasonable accuracy, without imposing limitations on the types of information extracted. Furthermore, the tool developed in this thesis is shown to i) speed up a trade-off analysis by domain-experts, and ii) also improve the access to biology information for non-experts.
... The emulation of nature's principles and strategies led to the development of many terms and definitions for bio-inspired design. A comprehensive study by Fayemi et al. [8] defines terms such as biomimetics, biomimicry/bio-mimesis, and bionics. In addition, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 18458 provides similar definitions for biomimetics, biomimicry, and bionics [9]. ...
... On the other hand, a bottomup approach starts with a biological discovery of principles and strategies, followed by identification of the problem where the biological discovery can be applied. In addition, Fayemi et al. [8] describes the levels of applying bioinspiration. Level 1 describes the mimicking of form, level 2 describes the mimicking of natural process and finally, level 3 describes the mimicking of the strategies of living. ...
... Frameworks such as Alborg bio-inspired design, biomimicry design, Design Spiral, and bio-solution design follow a common sequence of steps starting from problem definition followed by problem abstraction, initiation of a search for the potential biological analogy, and then translating the biological analogy into a solution [24]. Lenau et al. [9], systematically analysed frameworks such as ISO model [9], Biomimicry Design Spiral [25], Georgia Tech model [11], Paris Tech model [8] and DTU Bio-cards [26] and identified that there is a similarity in the steps followed by each of the frameworks, with significant differences. Although each framework differs in the number of steps, each framework follows a similar sequence starting from problem definition to evaluaiton. ...
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Nature is a continuous source of inspiration for scientists and engineers for creating innovative products. In the past decade, many methods, frameworks, and tools have been developed to support the design and development of biologically inspired products. This research provides an overview of the current state-of-the-art bio-inspired design methods and identifies that there is a need for the development of methods to support multifunctionality in design. Although there are several methods that assist in the development of multifunctional designs inspired by biology, there is still a gap identified in the emulation and integration of biological features to achieve multifunctional bio-inspired designs. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the current methods for multifunctional bio-inspired design based on nine specific criteria and, in the end, introduces a new design method called Domain Integrated Design (DID) that will further aid in the generation of multifunctional design concepts inspired from biology.
... In various research, TRIZ has been shown to aid in problem solving involving human machine interface [20], promote idea generation in reciprocating seal improvement [21], as well as merge with other design ideation methods in other engineering endeavours [18], [22]. Biomimetics takes notes from nature, and tries to replicate it to suit the solving of the problem faced in engineering [23]. By carefully observing the intricate workings of the natural world, answers can often be found for the solutions needed in designing and engineering problems in general. ...
... It is through keen observation of nature that answer may be found. Among the engineering achievements of biomimetics are the Shinkansen bullet train nose cone inspired by the kingfisher's beak [23], [24], the Velcro strip inspired by burdock burrs [25], [26] and the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe inspired by termite mounds (Turner and Soar, 2008; French and Ahmed, 2010). ...
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Two-stroke marine diesel engine components have primarily been made from steel. However, with ever increasing pressure from environmental policies, more sustainable alternative materials are currently be-ing researched. The selection of the best natural fibre as potential material for a two-stroke marine diesel engine crosshead bearing was performed using the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) method. Eight different natural fibres were applied in ANSYS simulation to obtain the Maximum Stress (von Mises), Maximum Deformation and Weight of the crosshead bearing model. Using these three characteristics in the TOPSIS method, the best natural fibre material was found to be kenaf with a Relative closeness to ideal solution score of 0.955. Future work planned to further investigate the suitability of natural fibre as crosshead bearing material include studies on compressive stress, tribological behavior and effects of cyclic loading, relevant to conditions experienced in highly rated marine diesel engines.
... Technology development that adapts from nature to solve engineering problems is called biomimicry or biomimetics [23]. Lists of successful biomimetic design include the Shinkansen bullet train from Kingfisher's beak, the Fastskin swimsuit from, and the Velcro zip [24], [25]. The technology transfer from nature into engineering as known as biomimetics successfully shows the idea can be developed to solve engineering problems. ...
Side-door impact beam has been introduced to the passenger vehicles to reduce the door intrusion into passenger compartment during side impact collision. This study aims to develop the new bio-inspired design concepts of composites side-door impact beam. The integrated Theory of Inventive Principle – Function Oriented Search (TRIZ-FOS) and Biomimetics method is the idea generation technique applied in this research to develop the design concepts while the analysis of the generated design concepts using impact test simulation in finite element analysis (FEA) is the method to compare their performances. TRIZ (FOS) – Biomimetics method helps to transfer the nature technology into engineering problems and shows that it can generates five design concepts based on three nature technology which is toucan beak, pomelo peel and hedgehog spine in this study. The FEA analysis method then compared their strength, deformation, energy absorption and weight. In a conclusion, the integrated method of TRIZ (FOS) – Biomimetics helps engineers in generating the nature technology ideas to solve engineering problems using a structured method as proposed in this study while the FEA method really helps engineers to obtain the performances data for the design generated before proceed to the next step of product development process.
The biomimetic approach rapidly evolves for designing novel lightweight structures and has been expanding in engineering design. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing permits three-dimensional parts to be fabricated with an intricacy and quality that might be tough or impossible to appreciate with the present traditional production techniques. With the probabilities and exactitude, 3D printing allows bio-inspired lattice structures from nature that are hypothetically advanced to ingest excellent energy absorption capacity with less material. The combination of additive manufacturing with cellular lattice architectures offers potential design options regarding material utilization, strength, cost, and component weight. A summary of recent advances in the improvement of bio-inspired structures is outlined in this review paper. Specifically, exciting highlights and remarkable mechanical properties of bio-inspired structures of bones, teeth, and dermal layers of creatures might be bio-mimicked to style economical energy absorbers. Researchers and engineers can use this information to create unique designs inspired biologically for the application of absorption energy.
The multifaceted purpose of this study is to explore the potential of fusing quantum sensing with bioinspired-based principles toward efficient solutions aiming to amplify innovation. The morphological, functional, and biochemical parameters of the biological retina, integrated with parallel and decentralized vision-sensing architectures coupled with neuromorphic computing and polarization principles, would yield unparalleled new-generation domains of knowledge. This paper exposes a roadmap for such a research and investigates how various techniques from Artificial Intelligence could pave the way of a future where TRIZ, assisted with AI, could accelerate innovation.KeywordsBiomimetismTRIZNeuromorphicContradictionsArtificial Intelligence
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The flexible, anti-fouling, and bionic surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) biochip, which has a Nepenthes peristome-like structure, was fabricated by photolithography, replicated technology, and thermal evaporation. The pattern of the bionic Nepenthes peristome-like structure was fabricated by two layers of photolithography with SU-8 photoresist. The bionic structure was then replicated by polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and grafting the zwitterion polymers (2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine, MPC) by atmospheric plasma polymerization (PDMS-PMPC). The phospholipid monomer of MPC immobilization plays an important role; it can not only improve hydrophilicity, anti-fouling and anti-bacterial properties, and biocompatibility, but it also allows for self-driving and unidirectional water delivery. Ag nanofilms (5 nm) were deposited on a PDMS (PDMS-Ag) substrate by thermal evaporation for SERS detection. Characterizations of the bionic SERS chips were measured by a scanning electron microscope (SEM), optical microscope (OM), X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and contact angle (CA) testing. The results show that the superior anti-fouling capability of proteins and bacteria (E. coli) was found on the PDMS-PMPC substrate. Furthermore, the one-way liquid transfer capability of the bionic SERS chip was successfully demonstrated, which provides for the ability to separate samples during the flow channel, and which was detected by Raman spectroscopy. The SERS intensity (adenine, 10−4 M) of PDMS-Ag with a bionic structure is ~4 times higher than PDMS-Ag without a bionic structure, due to the multi-reflection of the 3D bionic structure. The high-sensitivity bionic SERS substrate, with its self-driving water capability, has potential for biomolecule separation and detection.
It is, that as existing human inventions have been anticipated by Nature, so it will surely be found that in Nature lie the proto-types of inventions not yet revealed to man. The great discoverers of the future will, therefore, be those who will look to Nature for Art, Science, or Mechanics, instead of taking pride in some new invention, and then finding that it has existed in Nature for countless centuries. Rev. John G. Wood, Nature’s Teachings, Human Invention Anticipated by Nature (I877)
This work analyzes the role of bioinspired product architecture in facilitating the design of robust engineering systems. Prior works have proposed design guidelines to facilitate the implementation of bioinspired product architectures for engineered systems. This work shows that implementing a bioinspired product architecture may improve a system's robustness to random module failures, but may degrade the system's effectiveness in the absence of any module failure. To demonstrate such a trade-off between the robustness and the undisrupted effectiveness of a system, this study quantitatively compares biological systems to their functionally-equivalent modular systems. The modular equivalents of biological systems are first derived by utilizing Functional Modeling. The application of the bioinspired product architecture guidelines is then modeled as a transition from the modular product architecture of the modular equivalents to the actual product architecture of the biological systems. The effectiveness and the robustness of the systems are analyzed after the application of each guideline by modeling the systems as multi-flow directed networks. Such an analysis is performed by introducing metrics that quantify a system's expected effectiveness and the degradation in the system's expected effectiveness with increasing severity of random disruptions. The findings are validated by designing and analyzing a bioinspired COVID-19 breathalyzer as an engineering case study.
There is a growing interest in how organisms adapt to environmental changes and how an understanding of this can offer novel approaches to develop innovative facades. Technologies such as biomimetic adaptive building skins are emerging, allowing facades to adapt to changing conditions. They offer automated controls for occupants’ needs, provide efficient strategies to differing functional requirements, foster improved comfort and reduced energy demand. Biomimetics promotes adaptability since most organisms have advanced adaptations with minimum reliability on external mechanisms. This chapter provides a review of state of the art of biomimetic adaptive building skins, discusses the existing design processes for developing biomimetic adaptive building skins, describes several biomimetic design processes with case studies outlining their application and implementation as building envelope systems and analyses their measured performance benefits. A significant challenge faced with biomimetic adaptive building skins is the necessary expertise across multiple disciplines to design and performance analysis. The future needs in this area may focus on translating design principles found in nature that present how nature achieves optimum performance and measuring the environmental and energy performance of biomimetic adaptive building skins.
Conference Paper
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The design process of ever more complex products requires an increasing amount of knowledge originating in ever more distant domains of expertise. However, in order to make the knowledge transfer (KT) process more effective, researchers ask for processes which foster the transformation and translation of knowledge. In this respect, KT approaches which are based on the systematic use of electronic databases have their limits. Therefore we claim that there is a need for a framework capable of facilitating multidirectional knowledge sharing and thus knowledge transfer during face-to-face working sessions. We think that the well recognized performance of TRIZ and its derivatives in technological problem solving can be transferred to problem identification, modeling and solving in other domains like life sciences. Thus the said methodologies could contribute significantly to innovative product design by linking problems to solutions in distant domains. In this article, we report on a large scale experiment to test this assumption and present some interesting findings on the influence of group composition and methodology on KT during problem solving attempts by multidisciplinary teams.
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Biomimetic engineering requires reliable and relevant sources of biological information as a spring-board for technology. However, biological classifications are made by biologists for biologists. There are two main groups of biological taxonomies: generic (based on phylogeny) and morphological (based on morphology). But this arrangement of information is useless for engineering, which needs an arrangement based on a functional-morphological analysis requiring a totally different classification. We show that it is possible to create an extremely focused framework, which removes the enormous diversity of living forms, illustrated by the development of such a framework for mechanisms operating with liquids at the micro scale.
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Termites and the structures they build have been used as exemplars of biomimetic designs for climate control in buildings, like Zimbabwe's Eastgate Centre, and various other "termite-inspired" buildings. Remarkably, these designs are based upon an erroneous conception of how termite mounds actually work. In this article, we review recent progress in the structure and function of termite mounds, and outline new biomimetic building designs that could arise from this better understanding. We also suggest that the termite "extended organism" provides a model to take architecture "beyond biomimicry"—from buildings that merely imitate life to buildings that are, in a sense, alive.
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In this paper we introduce the main notions and first applications of a unified design theory. We call it "C-K theory" because it stands that a formal distinction between spaces of "Concepts" (C) and space of "Knowledge" (K) is a condition for design. This distinction has key properties: i) it identifies the oddness of "Design" when compared to problem solving approaches ; ii) it distinguishes C-K theory from existing design theories like German systematic as C-K theory offers a precise definition of design and builds creativity within such definition. It does not require the too restrictive assumptions of General Design Theory [1] or Universal Design Theory [2]. It establishes that design reasoning is linked to a fundamental issue in set theory: the "choice" axiom. It models the dynamics of design as a joint-expansion of a space of concepts and a space of Knowledge needing four operators C!K, K!C, C!C, K!K. They compose what can be imaged as a "design square". These operators capture the variety of design situations and the dynamics of innovative design.
Invention and innovation lie at the heart of problem solving in virtually every discipline, but they are not easy to come by. Divine inspiration aside, historically we have depended primarily on observation, brainstorming, and trial-and-error methods to develop the innovations that provide solutions. But these methods are neither efficient nor dependable enough for the high-quality, high-tech engineering solutions we need today. TRIZ is a unique and powerful, algorithmic approach to problem solving that demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in its native Russia, and whose popularity has now spread to organizations such as Ford, NASA, Motorola, Unisys, and Rockwell International. Until now, however, no comprehensive, comprehensible treatment, suitable for self-study or as a textbook, has been available in English. Engineering of Creativity provides a valuable opportunity to learn and apply the concepts and techniques of TRIZ to complex engineering problems. The author-a world-renowned TRIZ expert-covers every aspect of TRIZ, from the basic concepts to the latest research and developments. He provides step-by-step guidelines, case studies from a variety of engineering disciplines, and first-hand experience in using the methodology. Application of TRIZ can bring high-quality-even breakthrough-conceptual solutions and help remove technical obstacles. Mastering the contents of Engineering of Creativity will bring your career and your company a remarkable advantage: the ability to formulate the best possible solutions for technical systems problems and predict future developments.
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present an initial attempt at systemizing knowledge of biological systems from an engineering perspective. In particular, we describe an interactive knowledge-based design environment called DANE that uses the Structure-Behavior-Function (SBF) schema for capturing the functioning of biological systems. We present preliminary results from deploying DANE in an interdisciplinary class on biologically inspired design, indicating that designers found the SBF schema useful for conceptualizing complex systems.
Biologically inspired engineering design uses analogies to biological systems to develop solutions for engineering problems. We conducted a study of biologically inspired design in the context of an interdisciplinary introductory course on biologically inspired engineering design in Fall of 2006. The goals of this study were to understand the process of biologically inspired engineering design and to provide insight into biologically inspired design as a type of design activity. This paper provides a descriptive account of biologically inspired design processes and products, and summarizes our main observations: 1) designers use two distinct starting points for biologically inspired design; 2) regular patterns of practice emerge in biologically inspired design; and 3) certain errors occur regularly in the design process.
Many issues facing the organizations of today are complex and ill-structured. The complexity of these issues do not lend themselves to structuring and formulation by quantitative models, nor simple intuitive problem solving. Rather, making sense of these situations necessitates considering and oftentimes negotiating alternative models of the ill-structured situation. The use of groups is one way to gain access to alternative perspectives. In this paper, we argue that individual mental representations are the underlying basis of group interaction and communication. And, that these internal representations can be formalized in external representations that may be useful to facilitate interaction and communication as a group strives to create a shared problem perspective. Based on this theoretical foundation, we explored these ideas by examining small groups using representational aids during the process of structuring and formulating a problem. While descriptive in nature, this study provides insights on the successful use of representational aids and suggests that these aids can positively impact problem structuring and formulation by facilitating the sharing of alternative perspectives.
Discovery in science is the generation of novel, interesting, plausible, and intelligible knowledge about the objects of study. Literature-related discovery (LRD) is the linking of two or more literature concepts that have heretofore not been linked (i.e., disjoint), in order to produce novel, interesting, plausible, and intelligible knowledge (i.e., potential discovery). LRD has two main components that differ in their methodological approach to discovery:•Literature-based discovery (LBD) produces potential discovery through analysis of the technical literature alone.•Literature-assisted discovery (LAD) produces potential discovery through both analysis of the technical literature and use of selected authors of that literature. These authors generate potential discovery as proposers, workshop/panel participants, or in other active roles.LRD offers the promise of large amounts of potential discovery, for the following reasons:•the burgeoning technical literature contains a very large pool of technical concepts in myriad technical areas;•researchers spend full time trying to cover the literature in their own research fields and are relatively unfamiliar with research in other especially disparate fields of research;•the large number of technical concepts (and disparate technical concepts) means that many combinations of especially disparate technical concepts exist•by the laws of probability, some of these combinations will produce novel, interesting, plausible, and intelligible knowledge about the objects of study.This Special Issue presents the LRD methodology and voluminous discovery results from five problem areas: four medical (treatments for Parkinson's Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Raynaud's Phenomenon (RP), and Cataracts) and one non-medical (Water Purification (WP)). In particular, the open discovery systems (ODS) aspect of LRD (start with problem, generate potential solution(s), or vice versa) is addressed, rather than the closed discovery systems (CDS) aspect (start with problem and potential solution(s), generate linking mechanism(s)). In the presentation of potential discovery, a ‘vetting’ process is used that insures both requirements for ODS LBD are met: concepts are linked that have not been linked previously, and novel, interesting, plausible, and intelligible knowledge is produced.The potential discoveries for the PD, MS, Cataracts, and WP problems are the first we have seen reported by this ODS LBD approach, and the numbers of potential discoveries for the ODS LBD benchmark RP problem are almost two orders of magnitude greater than those reported in the open literature by any other ODS LBD researcher who has addressed this benchmark RP problem. The WP problem is the first non-medical technical topic to have been addressed successfully by ODS LBD.In all cases, but especially the medical, we have barely scratched the surface of quantity and quality of potential discovery that could be generated with adequately resourced studies. Based on the many potential discoveries we have obtained, and the promise of far more potential discoveries with adequately resourced studies, we have generated a new paradigm relative to discovery: while the key challenge in traditional discovery is finding a needle-in-a-haystack, the key challenge in ODS LRD (used appropriately) is handling the overwhelming amount of potential discovery available.Additionally, it is our thesis, as the specific ODS LBD studies will demonstrate, that synergistic combinations of our mainly individual potential discoveries are themselves potential discoveries. We demonstrate throughout this Special Issue the synergistic effects of combining a very few potential discoveries or interesting core literature concepts, and believe that these synergistic benefits are operable at larger scales of combination. In the final lessons-learned paper of this Special Issue, we also show that providing evidence for the synergistic benefits of large numbers of potential discoveries or interesting core concepts is very difficult due to the large numbers of potential combinations involved.One variant of the LAD operational mode (identifying disparate discipline recipients for Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) notifications in order to stimulate proposals of new ideas from these disparate disciplines) is presented for WP. Other possible applications of LAD include:1.Recipients of solicitation announcements (other solicitations similar to BAA, journal Special Issue calls for papers, etc),2.Participants in Workshops, Advisory Panels, Review Panels, Roadmaps, and War Games,3.Points of Contact for Field Science Advisors, Foreign Field Offices, Program Officer site visits, and potential transitions.