The Biomimicry Institute recently teamed up with Autodesk to launch AskNature.org, an incredible source of information for the growing community of professionals researching and applying the principles of biomimicry. The solutions that animals and nature have come up with have been tried and tested for millions of years (certainly longer than humans have been designing), so why reinvent the wheel? Why not learn from nature to make our designs more efficient, elegant, and sustainable?
Remember Velcro? George de Mestral, a swiss engineer, created Velcro after going on a hike with his dog in the Alps and coming home covered in burs. He fashioned velcro after how the burs had hooks on them and could catch on anything with a loop. You may have also used an idea from nature to help you solve a design problem. Many designers and architects are now using these design principle in order to create elegant solutions to every day pressing problems – like how can we more easily filter salt from water, or how animals naturally medicate themselves against disease.
Although AskNature is still in beta, the site has caught the eye of many designers, sustainability experts and news sites, and many people are quickly working to add more information, ideas and data. Researchers and biologists with information on how nature works are encouraged to share their findings, and designers, architects, and inventors can freely use this site to search for ideas and solutions, and even connect to the original researchers for collaboration.
There are many collaborators working to make this project successful, including Autodesk, IDEO, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Encyclopedia of Life. In the next few months expect to see a lot more information, as the Encyclopedia of Life will be populating the site with natural history information. You can also join the community to share your thoughts, ideas, and research. Nature’s most elegant solutions are not at your fingertips for free – it’s never been this easy.
Janine Benyus is the Co-Founder of the Biomimicry Institute, which is responsible for AskNature.org. She is a very well respected scientist in the field of biomimicry, is a consultant for companies like Interface Carpets, and is the author of the well known book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.