Biomimicry
 

 

Biomimicry is an amazingly powerful innovation method for sustainable design. I use biomimicry in design and engineering (such as the prototype vibration damping system for a movie projector, shown above), and have helped others use it by information-architecting the prototype of AskNature.org (below left). I teach biomimicry in all my classes, and it is one of the most popular subjects for my presentations.

 

 

 
AskNature is a knowledge source and meeting place made to help engineers, designers, and other creators to find biological ideas, knowledge, and experts. It should also facilitate collaboration across discipline boundaries. I designed the prototype for Rocky Mountain Institute and the Biomimicry Institute, and handed it off to IDEO for the released version (above right).

The prototype had a novel information architecture that did not appear in the final release: Linked search & browse. When a record is selected in search hits or other lists, it automatically pops up in the browse taxonomy--thus, finding one record by keyword can lead to finding a whole category of records which are related but do not share keywords. This feature also allowed translation between multiple browsing taxonomies. I belive the novel structure of this system would be a useful tool for any cross-discipline knowledge portal. See the prototype wireframe for a demonstration of linked search-browse information architecture.