People have been turning to nature for inspiration to help them solve problems for millions of years. From buildings and bridges to materials and medicine – examining the design of nature has aided in the development of almost every aspect of our lives, and most of us – often without realizing – benefit from these inspired revelations several times a day. This design concept is most commonly known as biomimicry. Designers, scientist, and engineers continue to study the complex structures found in nature to create greener and more efficient products and process for our homes and lives. In 2005 leading biomimicry expert Janine Benyus founded the Biomimicry Institute to give people the resources they needed to further their studies and understanding. Read on to learn more about how nature has inspired some truly innovative new products.
Velcro — Inspired by Burrs
Velcro – which is probably the most famous example of biomimicry – was invented in 1941 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral. Mestral first got the idea for this new material from the burrs that were often stuck to his dog’s hair. When he placed the burrs under a microscope he noticed tiny hooks at the end of each spine. These miniature hooks easily caught on to anything shaped like a loop like animal fur, clothing, or hair.
Improved Wind Turbines — Inspired by Fins, Tails and Flippers
By mimicking the characteristics of whales fins, tails and flippers, engineers have been able to design more efficient wind turbines. Toronto-based company Whalepower has come up with a revolutionary blade design that has been shown to increase annual electrical production by 20% while greatly reducing noise. This design can also be used on fans, pumps, and compressors and can offer improvements in the conservation and collection of renewable energy.