Nature is full of inspiring places to look for solutions to problems and new ideas. This came to the fore in a recent project we worked on where a new product was inspired by the anatomy of a bird.
New ideas are rarely truly new. Often, the best ideas are sparked by something else, and nature is full of idea-sparkers …
- Velcro: inspired by burrs that had stuck to George de Mestral’s dog after a day out in the Swiss Alps. George wondered what made the burrs so hard to remove, and under the microscope he noticed the small hooks which gave him the idea for a new form of clothes fastener
- Japanese Shinkansen bullet train: inspired by the Kingfisher bird that barely creates a ripple when diving into water. The design of the front of the train was based on the Kingfisher’s beak
- Energy-efficient air-conditioned buildings: inspired by termite hills that have excellent cooling, even in temperatures reaching 120ᵒF (50ᵒC). Air pockets improve ventilation through convection
- Bird-friendly window glass: inspired by spider webs with special silk that reflects ultra-violet, and alerts birds of its presence. The glass has an ultraviolet reflective coating that deters birds from flying into it
- Geckskin super-adhesive: inspired by geckos climbing walls. The adhesive sticks strongly and releases easily. An index-card sized piece can hold 700lb on a smooth surface
So next time you’re stuck for solutions to a problem and are looking for new ideas, take a closer look at the natural world around you – you might just find the inspiration you’re looking for! Even if you have no particular problem in mind, you might still find solutions you’re not looking for, like George De Mestral and his burrs … and who knows where that might take you!