Bio-Inspired Design Resources: Tools

These are a collection of resources (YouTube videos, journal and news articles, books, and online tools) for bio-inspired design that I’ve come across over the years. Some are just great inspiration for successful bio-inspired design, others are tools that can help you better implement your own bio-inspiration! A lot of these resources are also covered in my Bio-Inspired Engineering Design class (Texas A&M MEEN 440/696).

“Find biological strategies and inspired ideas relative to your innovation challenges, so you can emulate time-tested forms, processes, and systems.” Warning: these are primarily all biological strategies that have already been applied as bio-inspiration/biomimicry. It’s a great place to start but it can be a difficult place to find novel ideas.

Also includes the new “BioMole” tool, more literature on which can be found in the IEEE 2019 poster documentation here.

A computational tool for supporting designers to generate novel solutions for product design problems by providing, as stimuli, information about relevant natural or artificial systems. The software has a database with entries from natural and artificial systems that can be searched or browsed.

DANE 2.0 was developed at the Design Intelligence Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. DANE is a tool that, as one of its primary functions, facilitates biologically inspired design with two abilities: 1) to create and maintain structured descriptions of biological systems and 2) to quickly access descriptions useful to a designer’s project.

“The Biomimicry Institute provides tools to develop sustainable solutions for a balanced ecosystem by empowering people to learn and apply nature-inspired strategies in design. We offer access to free online resources, design challenges where people learn by practicing, support for bringing solutions to market, and serve as a connective tissue for a global network of innovators.”

In response to COVID-19 they introduced “30 days of Reconnection” that guide people through using a design journal to explore the world around you, both in person and online. “What might we return to after 30 (or more) days of observing how a leaf works, how a spider senses, how ants assign duties to one another, or how energy and mass are linked in a perpetual life cycle dance?”

Explore the California Academy of Sciences world of biodiversity through Khan Academy. The modules are short, easy to understand, and fun!

This resource is older (2010 last update) but it contains a scholarly paper index of biomimetic papers, a Biomimetic Technology Tree, and a glossary of common biological terms written from an engineering perspective.

The BBC runs this program that has a podcast series. The program includes podcasts and videos of cool bio-inspiration, both successful applied and potential new solutions.

The activities within the biodiversity toolkit provide students with an understanding of the importance of nature and how all living things are connected. The biodiversity resource guide is designed to give you all the information you need to teach your students about biodiversity and the impacts of human activity. The guide provides basic biodiversity facts, why biodiversity and nature matter, what threats our planet’s biodiversity is facing, what WWF is doing to help, and what kids can do to help.

Take your nature knowledge up a notch with Seek! Use the power of image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you. Earn badges for seeing different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges with Our Planet on Netflix. Get outside and point the Seek Camera at living things. Identify wildlife and plants you see and take pictures to earn badges. Learn fun facts about the organisms all around you.

The Introduction to Biomimicry Foundational Course was specifically developed for everyone–no matter their discipline or background–wanting to take the first step in understanding and developing a practice in biomimicry. 3+ hours of content where you’ll learn the basics of biomimicry.

Get inspired by listening to some of the “Ologies” podcasts by Alie Ward, who encourages you to think about the world differently by learning new things.

The best of the California Academy of Sciences, now streaming. Watch graceful stingrays, colorful coral reef, and African penguin colony in vivid HD, or set your sights on the Pacific from our Farallon Islands webcam.

An ontology of biomimetics based on trade-offs by Dr. Julian Vincent who explains: “I wanted to be an ecologist. After my first degree (Cambridge, Natural Sciences, Zoology) I went to Sheffield Uni and did a PhD on insect hormones. Reading Uni saw me wander into the general area of mechanical properties of biological materials. In 2000 I was invited to Bath Uni. Department of Mechanical Engineering “To show us the tricks nature uses.“ I retired eight years later and still wonder indeed, what are the “tricks”? That’s what this site is about.”