Biology to Design
Assignment 5.1 – B2D Design Project
Species That Inspired Designs
The cactus protects itself from heat and sun damage
The ridged shape of the plant Shades and Enhances Heat Radiation
The shape affects temperature regulation
Leaf Color and Shape Enhance Cooling Effect → trees with dense foliage and rough light-colored leaves have a greater cooling effect on the surrounding area
Ventilating Shade Structure Inspired by Trees → Inspired by the fractal structure of leaves in a forest canopy, a shade structure was similarly constructed to mimic the dappled light and airflow within a city
Beak Size Optimized for Thermal Regulation → Birds in warmer climates have larger beaks to better dissipate heat
Thermoregulation is locally attuned and resourceful as it uses shape ("free" energy)
Humans, animals, and plants all need to protect themselves from heat and sun damage, specifically those living in deserts, cities (which cannot thermoregulate as a natural ecosystem could), homes without AC, and through extreme unexpected heat waves
Other functions that the strategy of ridges perform:
Reflectance Causes White Color → Cabbage white butterflies have ridges and ribs that make their wings appear to be white
Intricate Silica Architecture Survives Forces → Skeletons of diatoms are impact resistant in part due to structural ribs
Ribbed Structure Provides Support → Amazon water lilies have ribbed undersides that provide structure and floatation
Ribs provide temperature, color, strength, and floatation properties
I'm imagining taking advantage of a textured surface for both thermal regulation and structure in the application of the automotive industry. If the surface of a car had a ribbed surface, it could help create shade and radiate heat in the summer so the car doesn't heat up like a greenhouse when parked in the sun. The structure could also help make the car more impact resistant in minor collisions. I could see this as an after market product that is applied to the car like an adhesive skin.
This design is resilient because it helps protect the object, increasing the products life span. It is also resourceful, using shape rather than energy to achieve an elevated performance. The design would violate the life principle of water-based chemistry as the material would need to be weather resistant. It would also probably not be part of a cyclic process due to the mixed materials being hard to separate (especially from the adhesive backing) in order to be recycled or reused.
The cactus efficiently stores water and nutrients
Cacti have thick waxy exteriors that keep water inside the stem within collapsible water storage cells
Blood Cells Protect From Dehydration → Dromedary camels have oval-shaped red blood cells that can easily flow through veins/arteries even when blood is thick. The shape also allows the cells to expand quickly during rehydration without bursting as a circular cell would.
Leaves Capture Water → Bromeliads concave shape and hydrophobic surface collects and retains water and nutrients
Abdomens Store Nectar → Honeypot ants have expandable abdomens that they fill with nectar to bring back and feed other workers
Expandable storage is important for fluctuations in water/nutrient availability
Shape and material are important for water collection and retention
Anything living in desserts, experiencing unexpected and prolonged droughts, people with inadequate reliable access to clean water
Another function that this strategy performs is sustaining living things over a long period of time as a supplemental source when water/nutrients is not in short supply and doesn't need to be used up immediately. It could also be saved a a backup reserve in case resources become scarce.
Having a resource reserve (excess) makes time for other things – such as moving from a hunter-gatherer society to the creation of agriculture and cities with more nuanced roles other than purely survival
Every home could have an expandable rain collection system. I imagine it attaching to the gutter and using the downward force of gravity to run the water through a filtration system before depositing it in an underground tank of sorts with a trap door for access/maintenance. Having an expandable tank could reduce the air inside and help prevent unwanted growths.
This design would take advantage of local resources and free energy by harnessing the power of gravity. It optimizes rather than maximizes by using what's available, rather than paying for as much city water or bottled water. The system would probably not use benign manufacturing.
Cactus flowers welcome pollinators into an otherwise unwelcoming environment
The flowers attract pollinators
Some flowers target specific pollinators
Thermogenesis Attracts Pollinators → Some cycads have cones that elevate their temperature to communicate that the pollen is ready to be dispersed
Water Aids Pollination → American eelgrass male flower pollinates its female flower without outside help. Instead, the male flowers detach and float down stream, while the female flowers create dimples in the water's surface, drawing the male flower in.
The right pollinator or technique results in more successful pollination and better chance of reproduction and therefore species survival
Animals with symbiotic relationships need to be able to lure in the right living thing
Humans also like to attract certain people often with similar interests and values for various social groups
People also want to attract the right candidates for jobs in order to best complete the functions at hand
People also want to attract the right people when it comes to building romantic relationships
In a world where everyone could adopt this technology (perhaps in a book or movie), I'm imagining a wearable device that is programmed with an individuals wants, needs,
personality traits, habits, values, goals, etc. as well as what they are looking for in another person. People's devices would constantly be interacting silently sending signals to one another and there would be some algorithm that would match people based on an extensive list of criteria. The device would give haptic feedback when someone deemed highly compatible is in the immediate vicinity. This could essentially function as a dating app alternative and give users an idea of who might be worth striking up a conversation with in any given situation.
This design would be locally attuned and adaptive on a person to person basis. It would not be cyclical due to the projected materials or necessarily systems based since it is so individually based.
Hermit crabs thrive in organized communities
Social Networking Aids Housing Search → Hermit crabs give shells that they've outgrown to smaller crabs. Having a chain of crabs that predictably pass down shells to one another saves time and energy in searching for new shells.
Flamingos Form Friendships → Long‑term social bonds help flamingos survive by providing mutual support. Friends help “find food, improve access to mates, and cope with sources of stress such as food shortages or human disturbance” (AskNature)
Group Organization Protects From the Cold → Penguins huddle in groups with a continuous wave like movement that allows each animal a chance to be in warmer positions closer to the center of the group. When a huddle become too large, and animals begin to overheat, the whole group immediately disperses.
Juvenile Friendships Help Throughout Life → Bottlenose dolphins develop lifelong friendships early on that will benefit them through shared information, cooperation, and other means such as sharing foraging strategies
Baboons Stay Together by Making Compromises As a Group → Baboons stay together through distributed decision‑making and compromise
Coordination helps create efficiencies to preserve time and energy
Friendship helps food, mating, and mental health
Group organization can maintain optimal temperatures for everyone
Cooperative decision making keeps the group together
People could benefit from organized communities that provide support when facing universally challenging times such as a global pandemic, big life transitions, and even dieting trends
Organized communities offer protection, nourishment, and survival
The benefits of a healthy community could heal political divides as everyone realizes we're on the same team in terms of species survival
My mind went directly to a system/process/instructions, to foster human connection rather than a physical product. Thinking more about a physical product, it could be an interactive game to foster team building in a work environment. Ice breaks often feel awkward and forced, but this product could be built with human psychology in mind and create a flow where people are excited to participate. The company producing the game could also create custom versions based a a company's culture and values. I image the game involving questions/prompts, strategy, teamwork and humor.
This design would be system based because it is drawing people together and creating new connections. It could also be adaptive to the specific work environment and industry. It would probably not have benign manufacturing due to its electronic nature. Although maybe it becomes a card game printed on recycled paper with bio-based ink?
Hermit Crabs reuse an existing material for housing
(because they cannot create their own shells)
Behavior Adapts to Threats → Behavior of oropendolas protects from botflies by being adaptive to different scenarios. Cowbirds like to sneak their eggs into oropendola bird nests so their young will be taken care of by someone else. Oropendolas will allow this in areas where there are botflies because the cowbird babies will eat all the flies, protecting the other birds in the nest. In areas without the threat of botflies, oropendolas will not tolerate cowbird eggs in their nests.
Shelters Constructed Underwater → Sandcastle worms build tubular shelters from mineral particles and a self-made adhesive
Providing Shelter for Multiple Organisms → The English oak houses moths, birds, and bugs
Birds Build Responsively → Birds consider factors such as the success of previous nests (their own and neighbors) and external threats when constructing their next home
These strategies uses benign manufacturing and optimization because they are using found objects in nature. They are also locally attuned because building depends on local conditions.
Houseless people could benefit from using objects that would otherwise go to waste to create shelter
This would conserve energy, and optimize rather than maximize since it would involve making the most of existing materials
Waste from construction sites, wood shops, large scale manufacturing, etc. could be made into affordable housing. The small pieces of scrap wood could also be combined with a polymer and poured into large sheets that could be used as "new" building materials, offering more flexibility in size and customizable material properties based on what goes into them.
This design would ideally use benign manufacturing and cyclic processes to reuse materials. The design would not be made of water based chemistry though.
Hermit crabs adapt to changing living conditions
(when they outgrow their shell, they have to move into a new one)
Leaf Traits and Functions Adapt to Demands of Local Niche → form follows function to maximize efficiency
Microcolonial Fungi Adapt to Extreme Conditions → ascomycetes can spread into hostile environments because they have extracellular polymeric substances
Optimize, locally attuned, responsive
Humans adapting to global warming will have to change how we adapt to our changing living conditions within our lifetime
We could also use the strategy of adapting to changing living conditions by looking at what it takes to live on other planets
Use locally available materials to create a modular house where certain aspects can be swapped out or replaced as climate change continue to become more extreme year to year. In some areas this might look like the addition of fire proof siding/roofing and hefty internal smoke filtration systems, or the ability to be raised up on stilts as water levels rise on the coasts.
Locally attuned, responsive, and resilient. Not all components/building materials will likely use benign manufacturing.
The spittle bug uses scent to signal
A Non-toxic Foam Secretion Prevents Predation → The pine spittle bug use their own excrement to make their foam, the smell of which deters predatory ants
Oils Vaporize to Create Scent → The titan arum plant raises its internal temperature to vaporize oil to produce scent to signal it's ready for pollination. It also produces a specific scent to attract certain insects.
Scent Trails Lead to Food → European moth caterpillars find new food sources by following scent trails left by other caterpillars
Temporary Chemical Signals Guide Others → Bees signal other bees with temporary scent markers
Humans rely on scent signals, such as carbon monoxide, which we've altered to smell like rotting eggs
Is it safe? Is it eatable? Is it mine? Is it a potential mate?
Animals definitely rely on scent as well when searching for food, communicating, warning others, marking territories, etc.
Scent is closely linked to memory and I think it would interesting to have a product that functions as a memorization tool based in scent. I can imagine a little desktop machine that would release a specific scent as certain information is being learned. When someone smells that certain scent again in a different context, recall is triggered.
This design would be responsive because it relies on biological signals. It wouldn't be systems based since it would be catered to each individual.
The spittle bug hides
Animals hide from predators in trees, under rocks, in caves, etc.
Camouflage - hiding in plain sight
Cactus Hides From the Sun → adapts to seasons and water availability. Will sink below desert floor until rainfall when it rehydrates and swells above ground again.
Skin Chromatophores Aid in Hiding and Communicating → octopus can change color to adapt to surrounding
Hibernation Induces Dramatic Physiological Changes → hedgehogs hide away to hibernate
Things hide to preserve water, safety, energy, and temperature
Humans hide when they feel like they are in danger, which could be a criminal on the run or people being persecuted
Small critters hide for protection because their size gives them the advantage there
Hiding could also be a fun game such as "hide and seek" with kids or "find it" with a dog
As an introvert, sometimes I want to "hide" from social situations/stimulation when I need a second to recharge on my own. For this design I imagine a necklace that glows a certain color to communicate to others that the person want to be left alone in isolation for the time being. The light could provide this indicator from a distance so the person wouldn't have to be bothered to check if it's a good time. I see this being most useful in a home or office where there are constantly other people in close proximity and frequent contact/communication.
The design is locally attuned and systems based as it signals to others in the immediate area who are connected to the individual in one way or another. The manufacturing like probably not benign in order to have the right components to light up.
The spittle bug uses local material to aid in protection
Spittle bugs use recycled sap from grass stems to create the soapy liquid that make up all the bubbles
Gorillas and elephants have been known to use rocks as weapons for self defense
Ravens play-fight with twig "swords"
Dolphins around Australia grab venomous sea snakes and swim them through schools of fish where the snake will kill fish and a harvester dolphin will collect the food
The Blanket Octopus tears off tentacles from the Man of War jellyfish and strikes prey and enemies with the poisonous whips
Animals are aware of what they are immune to and leverage that against others
There is a natural instinct to be resourceful to protect oneself
People have been known to use objects around them as weapons when it comes to self defense
Animals threatened by humans (rather than other animals) may be more likely to seek protection from a weapon
While the spittle bug uses it's strategy for proactive defense, weapons seem more reactionary
While literally using a natural material to aid in protection would be bio-utilization rather than biomimicry, a human could draw inspiration from a local material for protection. I am imagining a jacket or vest with detachable barbed spines similar to a cactus that would deter any unwanted contact from another person. I see this being used at night walking in the dark, through uncomfortable areas, or perhaps when hiking alone.
The barbs could still be made of a biodegradable material, making for benign manufacturing. The jacket could be sent back in to the company to have more spine attached if needed creating a cyclic process of repair and reuse. The design does not optimize over maximize.