Research Critique 2 | Biomimicry



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Biomimicry; linking biology and design on the human body.

One of the most common forms of biomimicry is when technology comes together with ecology in a new way. It is not just about saving the environment, or creating awareness about a pre-existing problem. It is about understanding the possible relationship between two very different types of things humans utilize.

In an urban environment, we are usually so exposed to technology that we tend to neglect the environment around us. However, given how we are literally LIVING in the environment we are surrounded by, it should actually be our role model when we develop new technology. It is not only about nature appreciation, but also about making the connection between nature and design. It is two seemingly opposite ends of a spectrum of materials coming together to create a new sort of culture. In a sense, it is also a form of finding out new organic ways to move manufactured products in a market economy.

Through biomimetics, we can find out more about nature. In return, it also teaches us ways that we can be more sustainable in our design, and become more efficient and effective when using our resources. Biomimetics is essentially a culture which bridges the gap between technology and nature in a mutually beneficial relationship; while technology can help nature to thrive, nature can also teach technology to be more sustainable and diverse. It is not only restricted to resolving environmental issues as mentioned above. It is also about exploring different possibilities nature and technology can come together.

Both nature and technology are powerful elements on their own, and by coming together, it can perhaps open up a lot more possibilities for us.


Existing Examples:

Bullet Trains

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Bullet trains were not a problem for Japan when they created high-speed bullet trains. However, it was incredibly noisy with “tunnel booms” (loud shock waves) occurring when the trains entered tunnels. These shock waves also caused damage to the tunnels themselves. Modeling after Kingfishers and their specialized beaks helping them to dive into water while making minimal splash (hence “shockwave”), bullet trains were made with a blunt front nose cap to minimize the tunnel boom and increase overall aerodynamics with their new streamlined nose. This is an instance where nature inspired technology to become even better.


Cephalopod Camouflage Wearable

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Octopus and squids are example of cephalopods who can change their skin colour and can also glow (bioluminescence). This allows them to hide from their predators and communicate with others of their own species. Cephalopod Camouflage is then developed after this inspiration, where a device capable of detecting its surroundings and which can match its environment in just a few seconds is created. It makes use of a flexible, pixelated grid utilizing actuators, light sensors and reflectors. When a detection in the change of surroundings is triggered by the sensor, it sends a signal to the device which then creates heat and changes the colour of the thermochromatic grid on the wearable.


Gecko Climbing Feet

Stanford engineers climb walls using gecko-inspired climbing device...

Inspired by how geckos climb up vertical surfaces without falling off, climbing pads has been invented imitating the tiny little hairs covering their tiny little toes. These climbing pads are covered with adhesive tiles bearing sawtooth-shaped polymer structures which are about the width of a human hair. This creates an adhesive force when they are pulled on, which allows a human to stay stuck to the wall like Spiderman.


Bird Skull Shoe

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Wonder why birds can fly so well, so high and so light? This is because their bones are really lightweight! The Bird Skull Shoe is inspired by the extremely lightweight bone density of birds.  As a result, shoes are not only comfortable and lightweight, they are also strong, efficient and elegant, just like actual bones. Perhaps, this can also ease our movements and make us feel less tired when we move about– and we still get to look rather elegant!


Tentacle-Inspired Prosthetic Armbiomimicry tentacle prosthetic

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Prosthetics are meant to aid human functions when they are needed. It is supposed to ease our everyday movements, which is why this prosthetic arm is created in reference to a tentacle. It is flexible and adjustable, promoting better grip on items through a simple curling motion, which is supposedly more efficient than our slimy, sweaty palms.

Another similar example: ‘OctopusGripper’ by Festo

Wearable Tech Research



Led by
Yamen Saraiji, Junichi Nabeshima and Kouta Minamizawa

The robotic tail responds to user movement through four artificial "muscles."

Inspired by Seahorses

Designed by a team at Keio University in Tokyo, “Arque” is a wearable human tail which is attached to a person’s back by a harness, and which helps a wearer correct their balance the same way animals do.

With built-in artificial muscles and vertebrae, the tail uses a pneumatic system to bend and move along with the wearer. This acts as a smart counterbalance whenever the wearer is leaning or swaying.

The inspiration behind the “biomimicry-inspired tail” was how the tails of mammals and other vertebrates act like an additional limb. “Arque” is also able to twitch and twist like an actual tail.

How it works:

“Arque”’s tail contains sensors and four artificial “muscles”. These allow the tail to move accordingly to the wearer’s movements. The tail’s movements move in opposition to the wearer’s direction, acting as a counter-movement which provides enough force to change the body’s momentum and center of gravity. This helps to correct balance and give wearers greater stability.

The movement generated by the tail consists interlocking plastic vertebrae parts that uses a spring-based structure to handle shearing and tangential forces. Each of the vertebrae contains one central plate which is surrounded by four additional four protective plates. The plates are linked together with elastic cords. Additional segments can then be added to modify the flexibility and weight of the rail (the spine of the tail) to match the wearer’s physique.

The robotic tail could help mimic virtual settings in virtual reality products.




Led by
snezhana paderina and nikita replyanski

RESHAPE 17 | Graduated spine support system


Reinventing the orthopedic brace so that people with medical conditions can have both spinal support with a broad range of mobility and also look fashionable while wearing it

Graduated Spine Support System is a wearable device designed to provide dynamic back support. Using data assessed by an integrated neural network, GS3’s lightweight cable mechanism can easily and precisely adjust to the wearer’s rigidity and support level.

Inspired by a young woman, Polina, who lives with Connective Tissue Dysplasia, a condition which causes joint hypermobility and chronic musculoskeletal issues that require daily spinal support. Braces became unsuitable for the body’s comfort and affects daily living. They were awkward, inconvenient and unattractive. The materials used were also not optimal in efficiency and mobility.

The purpose of the GS3 system is to reinvent the orthopaedic brace such that it has both good spinal support and a broad range of mobility functions. Furthermore, one can look good wearing it. GS3 can also target people who are undergoing physical rehabilitation and people who perform heavy physical tasks. GS3 can act as a prosthetic that can provide exoskeletal stability. It helps to enhance the existing muscle efficiency and secures the wearer’s spine such that they have an extra “superpower” to do hard labour.



How it works:

Other than its capable functions, GS3 is also comfortable. It has high-performance tech fabrics and its anatomically shaped structure. Through 3D-printed components referenced from the neural network research the creators have done, the spine is flexible and has smart behaviour.

The 3D-printed components utilizes polymer-based gradient 3D printing which allows a gradual increase of the rigidity along the surface of the blocks while keeping the wider surface of the brace flexible.

The smart behaviour, on the other hand, enables GS3 to learn the wearer’s typical behaviour and habits in movement and conform to the individual’s movements as long as it is within the limits the physician sets for their patient.

GS3’s control can also be programmed via its mobile app. Data is sent directly from an array of accelerometers in GS3, operated through a Bluetooth mesh. Each sensor sends its data to the processor without disrupting the other sensor connections, such that GS3 can respond efficiently to the wearer’s needs.

GS3 is also a fashion accessory. With a minimalistic cut, GS3 is made to convey elegance and plasticity. It is also universal, as it can be matched easily with other types of apparel. The material used to make GS3 is also high-performance, with intricate textures woven into its material.