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Updated on June 1, 2009



It is said that the need is the mother of invention . People have been inventing whole of their lives to accommodate their requirements. This paper will discuss how men approached to some of their development and what roles did nature and some of its designs play to inspire inventors. The paper will go farther than this to look up at a new scientific method that imitate natural superior system to improve humans' life. It will concentrate mainly on the advancements of communication systems due to researches on this science which is called Biomimetics. Finally it will try to identify any existing similar natural and human-made structures and see how efficient are both of them compared to the other one.

Bat's Sonar
Bat's Sonar
Boeing 767 jet
Boeing 767 jet
electrical and nerve systems wiring insulations.
electrical and nerve systems wiring insulations.
optical fiber
optical fiber
polar bear
polar bear
the greater bulldog bat
the greater bulldog bat


people have always trying to reach perfection in th tools and systems they make in order to continually enhance their lives . It is easier for inventors and developer to have a model reference of a higher level in functionality. Fortunately , nature has always provided them with an inspiration for innovations and creativity they tend to approach to help humanity. There are many patterns in the environment those do same functions of human-made ones but with different techniques, accuracy, quality and methodologies . Scientists attempted to imitate natural systems on earth to improve theirs but up to what degree they do this or how efficiently is that in providing good information for their inventions . This essay will outline some similarities between some human-made technologies and those already existing in the environment. It will also examine different techniques of doing this imitation and see how useful these are.

There are some problems of imitating nature such as the different structure of technological and biological components. Secondly, most biological materials are composed from a variety of substances while our made one are mostly homogeneous. Moreover, environmental parts in many cases perform several tasks which is not always the case in people's tools and devices segments.

These considerations should be made in mind when implementing Biomimicry in any field but it should not be a huge obstacle in studying this kind of knowledge. Biomimcry which is also called bionics , biomimetics (referring to the applied systems) or biognosis is believed to be driven from Greek words corresponding to imitating the nature.


The word was first started to be used by Janine Benyus , a writer and scientific observer from Montana the USA and later on it was used by others also. Some examples those this writer has put in her book are as follows :

  • Bats' high-frequency transmitter, far more efficient and sensitive

than radar systems created by human beings

  • Bees', turtles' and birds' ability to

navigate without maps,

Men have always taken examples from surroundings and applied them for creative results but this imitating didn't exceed being for paintings trees, butterflies , flours or anything else during the nineteenth century for exaple . So they didn't try to further and attempt to go deeper in other things regarding these creatures. The first noticeable trial to do so was done by George de Mestral in nearly the fifties when he created Velcro after observing that burs attach themselves to clothes and other substances because of microscopic hooks they have. Another example has been recored as inventing cat's reflectors on streets in 1953 after Percy Shaw noticed that reflecting cells of cats have capabilities of reflecting too little light.

Is it a Science?

The answer depends on how the word science defined but what most researchers agree on is that studying this kind of knowledge had and still having many benefits to improve our strategies of life equipments. It also depends on how much or deep imitating is done. Is it just an inspiration or also implementing in a great manner the techniques and methods of systems presented on nature. There is no exact response for the previous concern but scientists made this branch of science or knowledge more organized in order to have most advantages of it. For example, The European Space Agency Biomimicry Technology has put a tree that qualified Biomimicry for different fields so it is easier for researchers to get involved in it and work together to develop many technologies and materials .

The table below has been taken from the mentioned agency web site states the order they think is suitable for researchers and interested parties. Only communications engineering field part is quoted at another table in detail as this report concerns more about this area of technology.

6100 Structures and Materials

6200 Mechanisms and Processes

6300 Behaviour and Control

6400 Sensors and Communication

6400 Sensors and Communication

6500 Generational Biomimicry

Biomimetics Communications Examples

some examples describes natures imitation in the past , some just give analogy designs but necessarily applied and others mention expectations of future works for improvements.

Bats' sonar

sonars are these devices which use sound waves to get information by reflecting them from remote objects . It uses the principle that waves transfer through air in a mechanism like how waves are moves within water when it is pressed by throwing some substance to it. Information that could be obtained is like distance , speed , direction and location. Sonars work with same rules like radars except that they use different sets of signals for reflections which makes them suitable to some applications more than radars. The system was first implemented for military services in the 20th century during the wars and later expanded to other civilian applications. However, Living things in nature were using these techniques in their environment to survive . An examples for these creatures are bats which don't actually see and depend on their sonar systems to guide them around . These animals fly at night to hunt and the signals they emit are very important for this rule to be established as their food like insects could be very tinny sometimes.

Moreover, these living beings have more developed and accurate systems those make them capable to perform better than most sonars and radars we know nowadays. According to Science , an American magazine, the US defense department is making experiments on bats to improve their systems especially for underwater navigating . They are learning from bats. Are bats smarter than us . Recent researches on these birds let us know more about the ways of how they know their ways around in such accurate manners. Harun Yahya says, in his book 'Biomimetics', '' the brown insectivorous bat, Eptesicus fuscus, can process two million overlapping echoes a second. Furthermore, it can perceive these echoes with a resolution of only

0.3millimeters (1/80th of an inch). According to these figures, bat's sonar is three times more sensitive than its man-made equivalent'' . Three times is a huge number in communication links performance which means that we still a lot to do to build such good sonars and radars . As information arrives from reflecting matters it needs to be processed by an advances tool to get the information the emitter wants from the surrounding environment which means that the bat has a brain that make use of intercepted information on its ear and make techniques different from our for more accurate results. To have these good results the processor must take many factors into accounts such as other objects around preys the bats are after. It is not an easy task . Studying its brain is a vital part of understanding how it does this which means researchers from different disciplines muse co-operate to achieve remarkable aims.

A comparison of underwater target identifying between the AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) in Boeing 767 jets which is used for early warning and target control purposes and the greater bulldog (Moctilio Leponnusi) which use their sonars over water when drinking makes it clear that these bats' technology is far away advanced and capable of navigating under water while the boeing can't have good results for identifying objects under the water surface.


this type of fish transmit sound waves to the direction it wants by moving its head toward that location . The organ it uses in its head called the melon produces sometimes 12000 clicks per second. The system is very accurate in a way the dolphin can distinguish one fish from a specific shoal . The information it receives must be interpreted very quickly in order to determine the direction and position of the object instantly. Submarine sonar systems are similar to those used by dolphins but still not as good as theirs . Can dolphins be our teachers as they are friendly creatures . May be.

Optical Fibers use in bears:

Fiber optics technology was very useful for people communication advancements but were humans the first to use this technique main principle to capture and transmit light from one point to another. Polar bear used the same principle for light from sun to be transferred through their furs to their skins so the body would be kept warm in harsh freezing conditions. The light from sun passes withing every single peace of hair and get consumed as heat to do this function . Bears also have other great characteristics those can be used for other areas and these are not going to be discussed here.

our nerve fibers insulation:

Electrical wires are usually covered by plastic insulation for protection reasons for who touch these wires and also to prevent signals to leak away from the cable causing the message to be destroyed or weakened . Living being bodies nerve systems work in analogous way to that of these wires. The nerves which connect the brain to muscles and other parts of the body are covered by a special material called myelin to protect other organs from damages and to save the message from being lost. It is amazing how similar these two systems are being from two different world since we make electrical wires and nerve wires on the other hand make us. So strange!

Implementing sonars for helping visually impaired people:

it is obvious now that there are many benefits from taking biomimcry more seriously than ever . People lives could improve and become easier than ever. People can get the help they need in a better and more efficient way. Darcy Winslow, General

Manager of Environmental Business Opportunities for Nike, expresses

this truth:

''The extent to which the natural world can provide technological solutions for

the types of product performance characteristics we must provide are virtually

unlimited. Biomimicry still requires exploration, innovation and creativity, but

by thinking like or working with a biologist, we must learn to ask a different set

of questions and look to nature for inspiration and learning opportunities.58

Many firms are now following a strategy that parallels the one that

Winslow set out. It is now possible to see electronic and mechanical engineers

working together with biologists.''

For example , engineers have developed a bat's s system that allow those who can't see to feel obstacles or may be ride a bicycle . The sonar unit is mounted on a glasses pair the impaired person wear to identify objects just like what bats do but of course not in the same efficiency and accuracy . This simple example means that imitating nature performance would provide a lot of help to many people in our life in many fields such as medicines , communications and others.


to maximize th use of Biomimicry , scientist ans researchers worked together to improve it as much as they can as it is still new kind of knowledge and not many people are aware of it . Bath university in England is one of the few organizations that encourages the development of it in many ways. Dr. Julian Vincent, the director of the Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technologies at the University of Bath in England has launched a web page data system available for researchers and people interested in the field and make it possible for them to consult biologists and learn from them what they need about natural systems. He says '' "The idea is that this database will let anyone search through a wide range of biological mechanisms and properties to find natural solutions to technological problems." and also comments '' "at present there is only a 10% overlap between biology and technology in terms of the mechanisms used" which means there is still a lot of potential in this area.

Some examples of existing imitated systems in our world as written in ''Biomimetics, technology that mimics nature'' By Rhett Butler,

July 11, 2005 are as follows :

the defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and NASA are studying the navigational systems and locomotive strategies of insects to design the next generation of autonomous robots and vehicles.

A research team at Bell Labs has found that tropical deep-sea sponge, Euplectella or Venus's Flower Basket, builds remarkably strong structures from extremely fragile materials, according to a press release from Lucent Technologies. This discovery led to unique insights in the production of commercial fiber optic strands. The same team also looked to the visual systems of brittlestars -- sea creatures related to starfish and sea urchins -- for inspiration to improve lens design.

This report discussed the possibilities of learning ideas , techniques , and methods from our environment to make life much easier in many areas. It gave some examples of imitating nature systems as well as similar techniques between nature and human made systems. It discussed probabilities of improving Biomimicry and the efforts scientists and organizations are doing to maximize its use in all areas. Finally , it gave some examples of existing systems those use biomimicry to have more developed infrastructure.

This science future is still a little bit ambiguous to us because of the difficulties always of co-operating between different discipline researchers and biology experts. Establishing big firms and research centers dedicated for this kind of science will bring a lot of benefits to us in the future. We hope we see that very soon.


many thanks to prof. ALIREZA BAGHAI-WADJI who helped me to have a clearer vision of what field I should go in my life.


[1]ESA, ''ESA Biomimicry Technology Tree'' , , 28 May 2009

[2]Harun Yahya , Biomimetics : Technology Imitates Nature'' , , 28 May 2009

[3]Rhett Butler , '' Biomimetics, technology that mimics nature'' , July 11, 2005 , , 28 May 2009

[4]Science and soul , ''Biomimetics and the future of science'' , , 28 May 2009

[5]Stefan Anitei , ''Biomimetics: Natural Models Applied in Technology Using nature's brevets'' , , 28 May 200

[6]Wikipedia , '' Bionics'' , , 28 May 2009


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    • Eng.M profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia / Melbourne

      so may you advise me about biggest problems with this research ?


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