Finding nature in products

It’s always cool to see when  inventors, engineers, designers and researchers look to the natural world for inspiration.  There’s nothing new about biomimicry in products, but there a few cool new examples I heard about recently on NPR that both look to the world of insects to get small.  See link for research and photo credits.

The first is a tiny flying robot that mimics a fly’s wings.  It uses piezoelectric controls to power the mechanism.

Robotic Flies

Robotic Flies

 

The second is a tiny camera that has dozens of sensors placed in a dome shape.  The inspiration for this was the eye of a bark beetle.  Insects have the ability to focus at a large angle of view without distortion because of the shape and quantity of their eye segments.

insect-eye-prototype

Insect Eye Camera

 

Neither of these devices is ready for commercialization, but one can imagine the various uses they could have.  A third device which already is a product doesn’t quite use biomimicry (except for the leech-like suction cup), but is still a great use of nature.  It’s basically a solar cell that you stick onto a window that can be used as an electrical outlet.  No outrageously novel technology, but certainly a cool combination of existing tech into a neat product that has obvious use across much of the globe.

Solar Window Socket

Solar Window Socket