Biomimetic file 117: octopus inspired camouflage

Researchers Develop Octopus-Inspired, Color-Changing Camouflage Material

“Scientists have successfully wowed us with some pretty amazing bio-inspired materials in recent years, from 3D printed shark skin to gecko-inspired climbing paddles. Now,researchers have developed an incredible new cephalopod-inspired camouflage material that is capable of automatically sensing and adapting to the color of its surroundings.”


photo credit: Cunjiang Yu et al. Researchers use the cephalopod-inspired material to spell U o I (University of Illinois)


There are many processes in nature that we do not fully understand and that we are still unable to replicate.

Camouflage is a remarkable adaptation trait and the best example of this is the adaptive abilities of certain species to dynamically replicate their surrounding. While most species have color patterns adapted to the environment in which they live, a few such as octopus or certain reptiles can change these patterns according to their surrounding substrate.

Studies have long tried to understand the mechanisms involved which are a combination of complex chemistry, micro mechanical mechanisms and brain power to make this feasible. Despite significant progress made, as here highlighted, we are still far from being able to master this ability. However, the brain power element is becoming more and more feasible due to the rapid improvement in computer capabilities. Also new nano-technologies provide better tools which are bringing us closer and closer to this goal.

The implications of dynamic pattern adaptations are tremendous from obvious military capabilities to a range of cool everyday changes such as the clothes that we wear, buildings facades, or even new signaling/communication applications.

Dynamic camouflage adaptation is another indication that we are still far behind in terms of capabilities then many elements omnipresent in our natural surroundings..

More information:

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…


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