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Innovating from Life:
Design Inspired by Nature
A Conversation with Prasad Boradkar

January 31, 2008

The Australian company Pax Scientific manufactures fans that feature museum-quality design—and top engineering performance. The machines are 50 percent more energy efficient and 75 percent quieter than competing products in the marketplace. Their inspiration: the whorled pattern of a nautilus shell. After studying the shape and skeletal structure of the boxfish, a common coral reef resident, engineers at Daimler Chrysler designed an aerodynamic automobile whose weight could be trimmed by as much as thirty percent without sacrificing performance. The car zooms from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds.

Central to each of these examples is the application of a methodology for innovation known as biomimicry. Put simply, biomimicry is looking to the forms, materials and functions of nature for clues to solving design and engineering problems. It is a limitless—and largely untapped—reservoir for inspiration. Please join Prasad in a conversation about termite-inspired air conditioning, bat-inspired walking canes, mollusk-inspired fans and other brilliant oddities. Prasad Boradkar teaches new product design and development in the College of Design at ASU. He also directs a program called InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary education and research lab where faculty and students develop new products that create market value while serving real societal needs and minimizing impacts on the environment.


Time and location:
Thursday, January 31, 2008
3:30 – 5:00 pm
Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
ISTB-1, Room 401