Biological Innovation Inspiration

Increasingly, innovators are turning to the natural world around them for sources of inspiration.  For example, take Urban OS from Living PlanIT.  Living PlanIT’s latest project deals with the creation of a self-sufficient operating system through which a number of city functions can be monitored and processed including traffic lights, air conditioning and energy use.

By using an extensive system of sensors, Urban OS has the ability to monitor and connect the entire city.  CEO Steve Lewis explains “If you were using an anatomy analogy, the city has a network like the nervous system, talking to a whole bunch of sensors gathering the data and causing actions”.  For this project The World Economic Forum selected Steve Lewis, the CEO of Living PlanIT, as a Technology Pioneer 2012 for his innovation and leadership in improving the efficiency of urban areas and cities.

In fact, researchers are boring down to the molecular level for sources of engineering inspiration.  Taking their cue from  biological healing abilities, researchers at the University of Illinois are developing self-healing materials.  Here, plastics mimic our circulation system such that when cracks appear in the material, healing agents can be pumped through a micro-vascular network to be delivered to the affected area, much like the biological circulation system.

Posted by: Georgina Ellison

Sources: BBC News,, Red Orbit, The Daily Mail

Photo Credit: The Impact of Biotechnology on the World courtesy of flickr user Wellcomeimages


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