Gold dust day gecko licking nectar from Bird of Paradise flower. The image was taken at Kona, Hawaii. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I continue to have a keen interest in the emerging area of biomimicry. The exploration of nature and its processes to yield innovative solutions to complex problems is an interesting and novel approach that not only researchers, but also some of our clients are formally using as another way to “think outside the box” to identify business opportunities.
These are exciting times, and we have access to millions of unique and wonderfully made species of plants, insects and animals to inspire innovations. Already, pioneers in biomimicry are delivering solutions in nanotechnology, adhesives, sports, consumer goods, alternative energy, manufacturing, medicine, transportation and many other industries and markets.
If you’ve never thought about how nature inspires innovation, consider the foot of a gecko. That’s right, the tiny foot of a little green lizard has inspired some of the next generation of cool products and gadgets that you might even already own. Each toe of the gecko contains about a million little hairs, and each hair has about a thousand little sticky tips to help the reptile climb and cling to walls, plant stems, rock ledges, or whatever.
By using the inspiration from gecko technology, product developers are finding new ways to innovate underwater adhesives, safety shoes, climbing gloves, surgical implements, robotics, automobile tires, and much more.
In another area that we have touched on before, amazing progress that is being made in mimicking part of the process of natural photosynthesis with efforts like the “artificial leaf.” Here researchers are using biomimicry in the ultimate goal to help find ways to deliver abundant energy to the worlds undeveloped and poverty stricken populations.
The outlook for biomimicry is incredibly promising as it becomes another pathway to innovation. Experts have made some pretty bold predictions as to the direct and indirect impact of biomimicry upon the economy over the next few decades. Regardless of the exact numbers, there will be an increasing impact, and new jobs and novel technologies are sure to result.
Who knows where research into the areas of impressive, time-tested, animal and plant functionality will lead, and what practical innovations will be discovered?
What we do know is that the potential of looking at the wonders of nature for help in solving complex human problems is exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing, and sharing, more examples of the progress.