Richard has been invited to work with the British Standards Institute (BSI) on as the UK representative for the ongoing international ISO standards on Biomimetics.
This will allow us to help shape the next stage in the development of new standards focusing on an ontology (organisation of knowledge) enhanced thesaurus, image search engine and integrating problem and function-oriented approaches applying TRIZ.
So what does this mean?
Firstly, why an organisation of knowledge. Nature carries out a multitude of functions, from the atomic-level up to our megastructures - this is a hierarchy. By creating an interlinked organisation of these functions, it will allow us to find potential solutions more effectively. That’s’ if you have identified the exact problem in the first place.
These functions are not insular and are interconnected both internally and externally. An ant is a perfect example. Why do we not see dog-sized ants? The energy needed and the material for the exoskeleton would not allow for the insect to grow to this level. It’s these tradeoffs or competing desires that need identifying. What biological strategies overcome the negative while making the most of the positive. It could be two, three or even twenty competing functions in place.
Think about how many what your lists of needs are when you next buy a new mobile? Cost, functionality, apps, size, weight, design, etc. Some of these are positive, and some are negatives.
So what’s TRIZ? TRIZ, in short, is a Russian method of problem-solving that offer a toolkit of techniques to analyse and develop a solution. Develop in Russia; it was initially focused on what common functions inventions used to solve problems by examining around 40,000 patents. This lead to the development of a whole myriad of solutions and 40 inventive principles.
The Centre of Biomimetics and Natural Technologies at the University of Bath took this and developed a way to analyse the patents in nature, led by Prof. Julian Vincent. He’s our mentor and on our advisory board!
The video summaries how technology and nature solves problems from nano to kilometre focusing on six different areas, time to energy and information.
So how is this all relevant?
Finding solutions in nature can be challenging, even more so if you are unsure what the problem is that you are attempting to solve. How life works, focusing on functions is the key to finding new solutions. These methods will streamline the approach to design, especially with the combination of advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning.
If you have a project that is proving challenging and are looking for novel solutions, please feel to contact us for an initial discussion.