Biomimetic file 204: Feedbacks

Why the implementation of feedback loops is important to manage project risks

earth-05Image NASA. “Anthropic response as a positive feedback to the global change phenomenon is one to worry about” …Feedback*: in biology, a response within a system (molecule, cell, organism, or population) that influences the continued activity or productivity of that system. In essence, it is the control of a biological reaction by the end products of that reaction.

Highlight: “Researchers at MIT have introduced a novel Balance Feedback *Interface (BFI) that addresses the problem of bilateral feedback for tele-operation of humanoid robots…by studying various feedback response processes found in natural systems including in the human body, the team was able to model complex bilateral communications between machine and operator…the result is a humanoid robot with precision and sensitivity beyond anything achieved to date…applications include distance tele-operated surgery”

Insight: Many natural processes are not as static as they seem but are in fact dynamic systems which have reached equilibrium that require continuous adjustments to surrounding conditions. Basically there are two types of feedbacks: positive ones would improve a given process while negative feedbacks would alter it. A good example of that is the climate system (I have previously posted specifically on this aspect here).

Doing business is no different than certain natural cycle functions in that it needs constant adjustments to adapt to ongoing changes. When implementing processes or change strategies, it is of primary importance to concurrently develop effective feedback mechanisms in order to monitor the evolution of the changes.

While it may seem common sense, too often projects are successfully implemented but fail overtime because no adequate feedback mechanisms have been put in place. A process without its adequate control tools is not easily manageable. For instance it is not conceivable to develop a website these days without a proper associated Content Management System (CMS), and similarly the same system/system control approach should apply to any sizable project. Obvious direct benefits include:

  • Being able to monitor the evolution;
  • Being able to react in time based on those information;
  • Keeping performance records;
  • Due diligence.

Are you planning to implement change in the form of a new project? If so remember to concurrently develop a feedback monitoring platform which will allow to keep track and adjust…

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 or natural systems 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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http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 173: Bionic leaf 2.0

Why multidisciplinary teams is a key success factor leading to innovation

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Image source: Harvard University

Highlight: ” Researchers at Harvard University have co-created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels…this is a true A-to-Z system that has gone well over the efficiency of photosynthesis in nature… The system can now convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants…While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there…it provides a platform that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule…so this has the potential to be incredibly versatile.”

Insight: The most innovative breakthroughs often do not arise from a simple field but at the intersection of various disciplines and expertise which highlights the importance of multidisciplinary team work. This specific case is a good example whereby a bionic leaf was made possible combining the expertise of leading experts from very different fields namely: energy, microbiology and engineering.

Multidisciplinary teams are important in any situation where strategic decisions need to be made (e.g. boards). Some key elements of benefits would include:

  • Different perspectives to a problematic;
  • Idea generations: often people from a specific field are so narrowed within their own school of thoughts that they don’t see other paths;
  • Mutual feedback on feasibility (e.g. a problem may be solved through engineering but would not work from an ethical point of view);
  • Interconnections and linkage to various fields: often a better alternative comes out by merging ideas from different fields which would not be possible without multidisciplinary teams.

Corporations which solely hire people from a single specific field (e.g. some architecture/engineering/law firms…) without expending their teams with people from very different backgrounds often loose the competitiveness battle and there are many real case studies that showcase this very fact. The most successful companies often have a good mix of talents within their workforce…

The key point here is that if one wants to truly innovate it is perhaps a wise choice to broaden the scope and expertise of the team which tackles the problem…

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 or natural systems 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…

bluestrike logo

http://www.bluestrike-group.com/

Biomimetic file 129: Sunflower-inspired pattern increases concentrated solar efficiency

Sunflower-inspired pattern increases concentrated solar efficiency

 

Highlight: “researchers at MIT, in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University in Germany, have come up with a design that reduces the amount of land required to build a CSP (concentrated Solar) plant, while increasing the amount of sunlight its mirrors collect. The researchers found that by rearranging the mirrors, or heliostats, in a pattern similar to the spirals on the face of a sunflower, they could reduce the pattern’s “footprint” by 20 percent and increase its potential energy generation.”

Insight: Shapes in nature can often offer interesting patterns which seemingly appear random. However, a closer study lead to the conclusion that shapes design are often driven by the need to be efficient. The efficiency can be in terms of energy (the energy required by the species to do a specific task such as harvesting the suns energy for photosynthesis, collecting raindrops, sustaining flight…). It therefore makes a lot of sense to gain inspiration from shapes found within species for specific engineering tasks as the energy output gained from the design is often optimum. Some companies spend millions studying aspects such as air flows or sun exposures in laboratories using wind tunnels and other expensive infrastructures when in fact much of this could be saved going back to the basics of finding initial inspiration from nature..

More information at: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2012/sunflower-concentrated-solar-0111

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…