Virtual teams, biomimicry and biomimetrics
Learning from mother nature's designs becomes scientific mainstream
A new scientific discipline biomimicry (also known as biomimetrics) is gaining a lot of attention.
Defined as "taking ideas from nature and implementing them in another technology such as engineering, design, computing, etc."
"The concept is very old - the Chinese wanted to make artificial silk 3 000 years ago; Daedalus' wings was one of biomimetrics early design failures."
Interest started to gather momentum recently because only now can our science base really cope with the advanced techniques and technologies required to exploit biomimetrics.
“In fields from robot design to materials science, engineers are increasingly borrowing mechanisms from nature - an approach known as biomimetrics. Nature’s designs are after all, the results of millions of years of trial and error”
The Economist reports how a swiss inventor in the 1940’s noticed how particular plant seeds attached themselves to his clothes. Under closer examination he observed this was due to a unique ‘hook and loop’ system which led to him inventing our much loved ‘Velcro’
Today designers and engineers are developing highly manoeuverable robot fish using fins rather than propellers, commercial optical fibres based on venus flower baskets, sophisticated lenses based on the distributed eye structure of the starfish and new sticking plasters based on the Gekko lizards amazing ability to walk up walls to name just a few
From ‘Hit and Miss’ to ‘Point and Click’
Researchers at Bath University in the UK believe that biomimetrics is far too dependent on serendipidy to get a match and that the whole discipline needs to be put on more systematic and technological foundations.
As a result they are developing a searchable database of biological patents. This currently contains some 2500 patents on database however the hope is this will quickly grow with the support of an active online community
'Bioteamming' is biomimetrics for group behavior
The main focus of biomimetrics (or biomimicry) is engineering and learning from individual living systems.
However my experience of bioteams tells me that an equally profitable focus will be to help us learn from nature's groups as well as its individuals and looking at how they cooperate as well as how they are engineered.
Bioteams Books Reviews
A crowd draws a crowd but you need to be fit too. Distinguished Physicist Albert Laszlo Barabasi in his excellent book "Linked - the New Science of Networks" lets us into the secret of how any kind of network grows.