Biomimetic file 160: Oceanic Bio-inspired Turbines

Why a different way of thinking is required to generate an innovation breakthrough

biwaveImage source: BioPower Systems. A breakthrough*: an important discovery or event that helps to improve a situation or provide an answer to a problem.

Highlight: “A wave power unit inspired by the way kelp strands sway with the ocean’s flow has been installed off Port Fairy, Australia. Wave power is still in the development stage with multiple, very different designs jostling to prove themselves as the prospect most deserving of mass production. The installation of Sydney-based company BioPower’s design, known as the bioWAVE, represents the arrival of a new, and radically different, contender…”

Insight: It often takes a radical different way of thinking to move forward. Societies improvement seem to follow a nonlinear pattern by which an innovative idea rises and eventually succeeds; it is then copied and slowly improved overtime until an innovative contender initiates a new cycle.

Renewable energies have been “stuck” for some time in the improvement phase and it is time for radical innovations to move ahead rapidly. Indeed, while typical solar and wind energies have improved significantly in efficiency over the last decade or so, the basic ideas used to capture the energy have made little progress. At the end of the day radical thinking is key to progress, it is just that some ideas succeed at gaining societal acceptation (which leads to business success) while others don’t…

While idea generation is a complex process that sometimes just comes from chance/inspiration, a framework can be set to help the process: basically it requires asking oneself some simple questions:

  • Is the conventional approach the only way to reach the desired outcomes? Can I think of anything else?
  • Is this new way (if any) feasible (technologically and financially)?
  • Is my idea innovative at all (has it been done before)?
  • How to start and progressively aim for that goal?

The great thing about biomimetics is that it is a good way to put the above framework into application, especially the idea generation part. Indeed, nature offers countless examples of processes which can inspire applications that benefit us and the best thing is that it is still virtually untapped which also means that nature inspired designs are almost always innovative (at least for now)…

Are you planning to release a product/service? If so, perhaps ask yourself the above questions and see if you want to go the mainstream way or perhaps be a bit more daring an try the innovative way. However, keep in mind that the innovative path is often associated with greater risks but if successful the returns will be greater and more satisfying…

More information: here

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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