Tag Archives: Biomimicry

Hippo Sweat Makes Good Sunblock and Other Lessons from Biomimicry

ILFI_Sharks paitbrushAuthor and naturalist Jay Harmon explores biomimicry and how nature is inspiring radical innovation. Sharing ideas from his latest book, The Shark’s Paintbrush, at the International Living Future Institute conference, Harmon gives examples of how mimicking nature may provide solutions to the unsustainable actions of the industrial revolution.

A tiny bug that dehydrates to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce provides clues for a way to eliminate the need for refrigeration of vaccinations.

Glass with UV reflection properties similar to a spider web could prevent birds from an untimely demise from flying into buildings.

A film that mimics shark skin offers an antiseptic solution for healthcare environments.

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Sharklet Technologies (left) creates nontoxic, chemical-free surfaces that greatly inhibit the survival and transfer of bacteria that cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). ARNOLD GLAS has created products like ORNILUX glass (right), which uses inspiration from spiders’ UV reflective strands of silk in their webs to create glass that birds will not fly into.

Mimicking the biological cycle of nature, Shaw Contract Group cradle to cradle certified carpet is designed to be recycled in infinite loops, eliminating the concept of waste. We look forward to applying other lessons from nature in the continued innovation and sustainability of our products.

Images: MedicalDesign.com, Ornilux.com, Barnes&Noble

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Help NASA Pick the New Z-2 Space Suit Design

NASA’s Z-2 Suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. As a follow-up to the previous Z-1 suit, which was named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2012, the Z-2 takes the next step in fidelity approaching a final flight-capable design. Most exciting, the Z-2 marks several milestones for NASA, including the first use of 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing and the most conformal and re-sizeable hard upper torso suit built to date.

After the positive response to the Z-1 suit’s visual design, the designers wanted to take the opportunity to provide this new suit with an equally memorable appearance. To take it a step further, they are leaving it up to the public to choose which of three candidates will be built. Check out the options below and cast your vote HERE!


Option A: “Biomimicry”
The “Biomimicry” design draws from an environment with many parallels to the harshness of space: the world’s oceans. Mirroring the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths, and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles found across the globe, this design reflects the qualities that protect some of Earth’s toughest creatures.


Option B: “Technology”
“Technology” pays homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future. By using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design puts a new spin on spacewalking standards such as ways to identify crew members.

NASA_Trends in Society

Option C: “Trends in Society”
“Trends in Society” is based off of just that: being reflective of what every day clothes may look like in the not too distant future. This suit uses electroluminescent wire and a bright color scheme to mimic the appearance of sportswear and the emerging world of wearable technologies.

VOTE for your favorite!

Images: NASA

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Materials Mimicking Nature

“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature,” once said by philosopher Eric Hoffer. This outlook has fueled biomimicry, which advocates nature as a design guide rather than a source for raw materials. Biomimicry has influenced many fields and taken form in areas ranging from metaphorical to manipulative.

One example is the Bloom pavilion in Los Angeles, designed by University of Southern California architecture professor Doris Kim Sung, Assoc. AIA. The Bloom pavilion is  comprised of gleaming panels of thermo­bimetal, a composite skin designed to shape-shift with temperature changes. Made from two types of sheet metal with different thermal expansion coefficients, the laminated sheet curls upwards as one of the metals expands at a faster rate. Although the transformation is unrelated to biology, the result is reminiscent of natural phenomena such as breathing or peeling skin.

In the near future, will we be able to tell the difference between nature and man-made design?

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Bloom pavilion

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Time-lapsed imagery of the Bloom pavilion’s therombimetal panels.

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Detail from the Bloom pavilion’s interior.

Images: Architect magazine

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