Biomimicry: Biologically Correct
Biomimicry is an excellent road map to follow to make products better. Biomimicry fits into the natural order of the world perfectly because it is essentially what nature already does. “Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies — new ways of living — that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul”(Biomimicry.org). Biomimicry has already been used in many of the most significant technological advancements in human history.
Biomimicry, itself, isn’t a product or a single creation, but it is a process or a way of thinking that aids in creating long-lasting, more efficient, and more visually appealing objects and substances. Biomimicry is quickly becoming a growing topic for new age thinkers and problem solvers. Biomimicry is also gaining recognition in education as academia is now taking the necessary steps to shed light on the subject. Recently, Arizona State University (ASU) proudly announced that they offer a Master of Science (MS) in Engineering with a concentration in Biomimicry. ASU is currently the only university in the world to offer this specialization.
“Over some 150 million years, nature and it’s “products” have been ruthlessly prototyped, market-tested, upgraded, refined and otherwise made new and improved as the world around them changed. Each of these fragile specimens is a package of innovation waiting to be understood and adapted” (Smithsonian.com). Some of the most imaginative creations from mankind stem from biomimicry and how it interacts within our world and with our inhabitants. Velcro is an example of a biomimicry inspired product that was conceived in the mind of Georges de Mestral as he observed burs, and their ability to cling to clothes so easily and securely.
Below are more noteworthy advancements that were inspired by biomimicry:
a) Bullet trains inspired by Kingfisher birds
b) Wind turbines modeled after Humpback whales
c) Antimicrobial film mimicking sharkskin
d) Harvesting water like the Stenocara beetle
e) An absorbing shock like a woodpecker
f) Cephalopod camouflage
g) Ventilation systems inspired by termites
Finally, the most important reason why we should use Biomimicry is that it ultimately allows us to make a better product. “This is the idea behind the increasingly influential discipline of biomimicry: that we human beings, who have been trying to make things for only the blink of an evolutionary eye, have a lot to learn from the long processes of natural selection, whether it’s how to make a wing more aerodynamic, a city more resilient, or an electronic display more vibrant” (Smithsonian).
Biomimicry is an excellent approach to follow to make a better product. “In nature materials are expensive and design is cheap,” was one important take away that came out of the Radical Nature workshop hosted by Michael Pawlyn. Bioinspired innovations may not always be practical and can be costly to create. Although there can be significant advantages to utilizing biomimicry its production costs must be taken into consideration. The practicality of creating with biomimicry is sometimes not a viable option for businesses where the goal is to make money and turn a profit. Biomimicry will most likely never be the cheapest upfront cost for any project or invention.
I chose Biomimicry because I am a firm believer that the Earth gives us all we need to survive and evolve. Biomimicry not only shows us what to do by providing us a blueprint, but also has proven to be effective and reliable. We can see Biomimicry inspired technology in our everyday lives from airplanes that gave humans the ability to fly with the birds, to submarines that allow us to voyage the depths of the oceans alongside Killer Whales. Biomimicry is inherently a part of our footprint as human beings. It will continue to influence our future technologies in ways that we could once only imagine for centuries to come. According to Janine Benyus, “Biomimicry is the conscious emulations of life’s genius”(Biomimicry p. 56).