8.1b

Gabe Pyle | Biomimetic Design | July 2015

Design Brief

Biospire Insect Catcher

Description

  • The Biospire Insect Catcher is a bug catcher for kids that allows kids to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it.
  • It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.
  • It may or may not have electrical components. It should have a magnifying component so that kids can see the insects up close and personal.
  • It should come in a kit with accessories for different kinds of bugs or different kinds of situations.
  • The accessories should not be floating but should nest or attach to the main body of the insect catcher.
  • The insect catcher should be rugged enough to use and be left outside. It should be easy to clean, and all components that could possibly contain an insect should be completely see-through so that supervising adults can be sure that the catcher is empty before storing it away.

The company name and business

Biospire Toys

The purpose of the design, what the design is intended to do

  • Help inspire future entomologists
  • Allow kids to study insects closely
  • Get kids outside
  • Keep kids (and insects) safe as they study insects

The aim or goals of the design (e.g. generate sales, modify behavior)

  • Allow kids to play with bugs in a way that doesn’t teach children to harm the environment
  • Inspire the future leaders of entomology
  • Enable curious minds to study insects
  • Create an insect catcher that is good for the consumers and good for the planet
  • Keep kids safe
  • Keep bugs safe

The target consumer, user, or audience for the design

  • Ages 8-12, boy or girl
  • Their parents

Any values or messages you want the design to communicate

  • Insects are crazy cool!
  • They were here first, and they’ll be here after we’re gone. Study them, enjoy them, but respect them and their homes.
  • Sometimes insects are cool to look at, but sometimes it’s better not to touch them
  • Anyone can study insects

The context or operating conditions within which your design will function

  • The design will need to be sturdy enough to survive the treatment of a 8-year old, and leaving it outside all night or all day.
  • It will also need to be able to contain live insects in a way that keeps the insects alive, but prevents them from escaping.

Examples of existing similar designs

Chad Valley Insect Catcher Ki

Chad Valley Insect Catcher Ki

 

Weather Wiz Kids Bug Collector Kit

Weather Wiz Kids Bug Collector Kit

Discovery Kids Outdoor Adventure Bug Collector

Discovery Kids Outdoor Adventure Bug Collector

  •  

    

Timeframe for completion

  • 5 weeks

Any constraints or non-negotiables

  • Captures insects non-violently with low-to-no energy
  • Can’t break easily
  • Can’t kill the insects
  • Can’t let insects escape on their own
  • Leaving the toy outside can’t compromise the design.
  • Doesn’t need to be waterproof, but getting it wet shouldn’t break it
  • Easy to clean out

Design Process

 

Cycle 1   

Identify: What do we want it to do? We want it to suck up insects.

Translate: How does nature capture small organisms? (Function #1)

Discover:

Strategies available (3 strategies for function #1):

The Bladderwort: the bladderwort is a tiny underwater carnivorous plant that uses a vacuum action to suck its prey into its special leaves. The chamber-like leaves of the bladderwort are equipped with a special gland the pumps water out of the chamber, creating negative pressure inside. The door to the chamber is rigged with sensitive bristles. If a small creature disturbs these bristles, it misaligns the door, creating an opening through which water may rush into the chamber, equalizing the pressure, and sweeping the prey into the chamber with it. The bladderwort then excretes digestive enzymes to break down the prey.

Marsh pitcher: The marsh pitcher captures its prey passively. The leaves of the marsh pitcher curl to form a pitcher, which collects rainwater, with a small, nectar-producing hood above. The insects, inspecting the plant for more nectar, travel down into the plant pitcher where long, slippery hairs prevent the insect from climbing back up. As the insect slides down, it reaches a point in the plant pitcher where there are no hairs. Instead, the plant wall is slick and waxy. The insect can no longer climb out. It falls into the water where it drowns. Bacterial decay dissolves the insect into the water, and the pitcher absorbs the nutrients.

Blue whales: The blue whale, like many large whales, eats only tiny sea creatures called krill. The whale’s mouth is equipped with baleen, sheets of horn, feathered at the end, that create a filter in the mouth of the whale. The whale sucks in a mouthful of water, bringing the krill in with it. The whale then pushes its tongue forward to expel the water and trap the krill in the baleen.

Strategy selected: Bladderwort

Abstract: Depress/deflate a spherical, semi-rigid air sac to forcefully expel air. The spherical walls of the air sac, once depressed, invert on themselves, leaving the air-sac in a state of tension, as the walls will want to re-invert on themselves to resume the original structure. The touch-sensitive membrane blocks the end of the product’s tube, preventing air flow back into the air chamber. Touching an insect with the end of the product tube will dislodge the membrane, breaking the seal, and inducing the sudden intake of air.

Emulate

Evaluate: This first cycle resulted in only a slight adherence to Nature’s Principles. While it does not fully meet any one of nature’s principles, it does perform functions with minimal materials and energy by using the power of air pressure to capture the insects. Additionally, this air pressure equalization operates on a feedback loop by “inhaling” only as much air as would allow the air sac to regain its original form, and it responds to the feedback of an insect brushing up against the touch-sensitive membrane on the mouth of the chamber.

Cycle 2

Identify: What do we want it to do? We want it to capture living organisms in a different way (for variety and redundancy.)

Translate: How ELSE does nature capture small organisms?

Discover:

Strategies available:

The Marsh Pitcher: The marsh pitcher captures its prey passively. The leaves of the marsh pitcher curl to form a pitcher, which collects rainwater, with a small, nectar-producing hood above. The insects, inspecting the plant for more nectar, travel down into the plant pitcher where long, slippery hairs prevent the insect from climbing back up. As the insect slides down, it reaches a point in the plant pitcher where there are no hairs. Instead, the plant wall is slick and waxy. The insect can no longer climb out. It falls into the water where it drowns. Bacterial decay dissolves the insect into the water, and the pitcher absorbs the nutrients.

Ant lion sand pit: The ant lion digs a hole in lose sand and launches any excess sand out, leaving a crater that is just steep enough that any wandering ant will fall in with the tumbling sand.

Blue whale baleen plates: The blue whale, like many large whales, eats only tiny sea creatures called krill. The whale’s mouth is equipped with baleen, sheets of horn, feathered at the end, that create a filter in the mouth of the whale. The whale sucks in a mouthful of water, bringing the krill in with it. The whale then pushes its tongue forward to expel the water and trap the krill in the baleen.

Strategy selected: Slippery edges of the Marsh Pitcher Plant

Abstract: Vertical chamber rigged with scented lure. Insects investigate lure. Climb further into vertical chamber. Further down the chamber, interior walls covered with slick wax that prevents climbing back up. Insect slides down into removable jar for inspection.

Emulate: 

Evaluate: This second iteration of the insect catcher helps enforce the reusability of the product, but the biggest change this addition makes is that the product functions are now redundant.

Cycle 3

Identify: What do we want it to do? We want it to stay clean.

Translate: How does nature repel dirt? How does nature clean itself? (Function #2)

Discover:

Strategies available (3 strategies for function #2):

Gecko: The skin of the gecko is covered with tiny microstructures called spinules that collect water into larger droplets. The energy of the water being collected propels the drops of water off the gecko, keeping the gecko clean.

Lotus Leaf: The surface of the lotus leaf is covered in microstructures that cause the water to collect in beads as opposed to sticking to the surface of the leaf

Springtail: The skin of the springtail has three layers of protection. First, the skin is covered in tiny bristles that create a layer of air around the skin. Second, the skin is covered in tiny bumps that prevent water from collecting. Finally, each bump has a microscopic overhang that prevents fluids from progressing.

Strategy selected: Springtail

Abstract: Surface covered in three-tiered defense system. First level, tiny bristles create air pockets that deflect larger particles, like water. Second level, geometric bumps prevent any contaminants from collecting. Finally, each bump has a small overhang, which prevents any fluids from progressing further

Emulate:

Cycle 4

Identify: What do we want it to do? We want it to stay clean.

Translate: How else does nature stay clean?

Discover:

Strategies Available

Plant cuticles: Many blooming plants have a waxy layer of “skin” that protects the plant from losing moisture as well as from microbial infections.

Gecko skin: The skin of the gecko is covered with tiny microstructures called spinules that collect water into larger droplets. The energy of the water being collected propels the drops of water off the gecko, keeping the gecko clean.

Blue Morpho Butterfly: The wings of the Blue Morpho Butterfly are covered in scales with tiny ridges that prevent water from sticking. As water collects in beads, the natural adhesion of the water picks up any loose dirt particles. Once the butterfly tilts their wings, the water rolls off, bringing the dirt with it.

Strategy Selected: Gecko skin

Abstract: Surface covered in tiny spires that prevent water from collecting. Water collects into little beads, which then easily roll off the surface, or “bounce” off the surface due to the energy of the water collecting.

Emulate:

Evaluate: The fourth iteration of this design is really starting to capture more of nature’s principles. This most recent addition helps to keep the product clean in more than one way. The difference could be between materials (for instance, the harder shell material could utilize one style of self-cleaning structure, where as the softer air sac material could use another)

Cycle 5

Identify: What do we want it to do? We want it to utilize local materials

Translate: How does nature leverage local materials? (Function #3)

Discover:

Strategies Available (Strategies for function #3)

Hermit Crab: The Hermit Crab makes his home in a small shell. As the crab grows, it must move to a larger shell, meaning that the crab constantly upgrades from one discarded shell to another

Bird nests: Many birds construct their nest from the resources immediately available to them—anything from old newspapers to cassette tape to human hair

Hornet nests: Hornets chew up wood pulp and mix with their saliva to create a paper that they use to create the walls of their nests

Strategy Selected: Hermit Crab “moving in” to new, larger shells

Abstract: Use what’s available. Allow for various kinds of jars to be used for capturing insects.

Emulate:

Evaluate: This fifth iteration really drives home the life’s principle focused on being locally attuned and responsive by allowing the product to use any kind of jar that the child might be able to find (and old peanut butter jar, or an old mason jar). This way, the jars can be reused, and they are already part of an existing recycling stream.

Design Presentatio

With that, I present the latest iteration of the Biospire Insect Catcher. Unlike many other insect catchers, the Biospire Insect Catcher doesn’t use a motorized fan to suck the insect up into the device. Instead, the Biospire Insect Catcher uses the rigidity of a depressed spherical air sac to rapidly draw air into the device, capturing the insect in the process. This enables the user to capture the insects with little-to-no energy, and the process can be repeated without replacing batteries or electrical components.

Additionally, the Biospire Insect Catcher can be set up on end and used as an insect trap. Place a single drop of honey in the Insect Catcher’s scent chamber, and the smell will attract insects into the vertical throat of the product. As they climb down, the insects will be unable to stick to the slick walls, and they will slide down into jar where they can be removed and investigated.

As for product flexibility, the Biospire Insect Catcher comes with three jars for catching insects, but it also comes with a size-adjusting mouth, meaning that jars of just about any size can be used to capture and study insects. Finally, the surfaces of the Biospire Insect Catcher have been designed for self-cleaning using the microstructure strategies of the Springtail and Gecko, so dirt and grime should slide right off with a quick rinse.

The Biospire Insect Catcher is about half-way to being able to emulate each of Life’s Principles. Right now it is locally attuned and responsive in the way that it allows the option of using local materials (jars) and responds to feedback (in refilling the air sac as well as in triggering the touch sensitive membrane). It also optimizes rather than maximizes in that the processes take minimal energy, it integrates multiple functions, and it can use recyclable materials. It can also integrate cyclical processes in its reusability as well as it’s ability to utilize jars of any kind again and again. However, it needs further development before it can completely emulate the remaining principles.

The Biospire Insect Catcher is the first step towards fostering a sustainable entomological spark in today’s children. With its powerless insect catching and its chemical-free cleaning and jar reusing abilities, the Biospire Insect Catcher provides a dynamic, exciting, and sustainable alternative to other insect catchers on the market today.

Design Proposal

The basic functions of the product have been explored. However, based on the progress of the project so far as well as the evaluation against Life’s Principles, suggested next steps include investigating environmentally-friendly, locally available, and recyclable materials for manufacturing the product, including a downloadable field e-guide based on user location, and extending the product line to include other means for users to capture insects (nets, traps, etc). Additionally, the product could be designed so that users could upgrade or repair individual components of the product (larger, quicker, or newer air sac, or a mounting system for larger or more jars). This would provide the user with additional value and extended product life.

Should Biospire choose to continue pursuing this project, the proposed timeline would be as follows:

  • 1-2 weeks: investigate and determine product materials, focusing on life-friendly materials as well as cleanability and structural integrity
  • 2 weeks: draft concepts for extended product line
  • 1 week: revise Biospire Insect Catcher for modularity and upgradability
  • >4 weeks: create downloadable field guide (possibly an app) for users to identify insects

A 7.2 Emulating Strategies

Gabe Pyle | A 7.2 | July 2015

Emulating Strategies 

Project Summary
The Biospire Insect Catcher is a bug catcher for kids that allows kids to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it.
It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.

Report Purpose:
This report serves as an update on the biomimetic development of the Biospire Insect Catcher kit. The third phase of development resulted in initial application of the mechanical components involved in a critical function the product of the product. The results of this third phase of product development are outlined below.

Function Addressed:
One of the critical functions the Biospire Insect Catcher must accomplish is the intake of gases, particularly air, and any small, loose solids light enough for the rapid intake of air to capture.  

A technical description of the strategies used to perform this function can be read below.

Strategy: Depress/deflate a spherical, semi-rigid air sac to forcefully expel air. 

The spherical walls of the air sac, once depressed, invert on themselves, leaving the air-sac in a state of tension, as the walls will want to re-invert on themselves to resume the original structure. 

The touch-sensitive membrane blocks the end of the product’s tube, preventing air flow back into the air chamber.

Touching an insect with the end of the product tube will dislodge the membrane, breaking the seal, allowing the air chamber to re-inflate, and inducing the sudden intake of air, and 

Final Product.jpg

This report represents only the initial application of the strategy with little concern for aesthetics, ergonomics, or overall product feel. Further concept ideation will take place in later project phases.

Some initial product ideation.

Some initial product ideation.

 

7.1b Abstracting Strategies

Gabe Pyle | A 7.1b | July 2015

Abstracting Strategies

Project Summary:
The Biospire Insect Catcher is a bug catcher for kids that allows kids to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it.

It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.

Report purpose:
This report serves as an update on the biomimetic development of the Biospire Insect Catcher kit. The second phase of development resulted in outlining of the mechanical components involved in a critical function the product of the product. The results of this second phase of product development are outlined below.

Function being addressed:
One of the critical functions the Biospire Insect Catcher must accomplish is the intake of gases, particularly air, and any small, loose solids light enough for the rapid intake of air to capture.   

A technical description of the strategies used to perform this function can be read below. 

Strategy: Depress/deflate a spherical, semi-rigid air sac to forcefully expel air.

Squeezing air out.jpg

The spherical walls of the air sac, once depressed, invert on themselves, leaving the air-sac in a state of tension, as the walls will want to re-invert on themselves to resume the original structure. 

A touch sensitive membrane seals the air sac, preventing the semi rigid air sac from resuming its original structure.

Once the sealing membrane reacts to outside contact, breaking the seal, the semi-rigid air sac rapidly regains its original structure, causing air to rush in.

Next steps in the development process will be do conceptualize the above strategy into a rough design idea.

 

6.1 BCI Session

Gabe Pyle | Biomimetic Design | July 2015

I traveled with my church to the island of Trinidad to help run a camp for the next week, and we’re right on the edge of the bush. So I got the chance to do this week’s (and next week’s) BCI session in a more tropical setting.

This is where I got to do my BCI session.

This is where I got to do my BCI session.

Be: As I closed my eyes, I focused on what else I could sense. I could detect the faint smell of rotting mangos, which are scattered EVERYWHERE on the ground. I could feel tiny bugs occasionally jumping on my legs (I’m sure I smelled very tasty to them). I could hear 3-4 distinct bird calls around me—bird voices that were colorful and vibrant and far more exotic than anything I’ve heard in Ohio. I could hear mosquitos buzzing by my ear (I’m sure they were buzzing around elsewhere, but I could not hear them). I could also hear ripe fruit falling nearby, and a dog barking in the distance.

Contemplate: For my Insect Catcher project, I wanted to find out how nature:
Captures organisms
Expels gases

Self-cleans

I was able to notice the leaves of the plantain tree, which are quite large. 

Water beads on a plantain leaf.

Water beads on a plantain leaf.

On these leaves, the water had collected into tiny beads. They weren’t rolling off, so there was clearly still some adhesion taking place, but I still had to wonder why the water was beading up so. I concluded that it must have been because of the waxy cuticle. Feeling the leaf confirmed that the leaf was waxy. Whether that is the only strategy at play is not certain.

 

I also saw a tiny spider, and considered that the spider uses her web to catch her prey. But why is the web sticky? Is it because the material itself is sticky? Is there some microstructure that gives it its stickiness?

Then I finally saw some of the birds I had been hearing. I considered how they captured organisms. I suppose they use their beaks and peck to catch the bugs they eat. Do they eat on the fly, like a bat? Or do they pick the bugs off the ground, or the branches? Of course their eyes help them to spot the prey. Do perhaps their beak structures help them at all?

Imagine: If the spiderweb gets its stickiness from its structure, like the gecko’s foot, then perhaps the Insect Catcher could utilize a kind of “temporary stickiness” strategy using spider-web or gecko foot technology?

And while treating the outside surfaces of the Insect Catcher with a waxy coating to help keep it clean might give it an odd texture, perhaps the inside of the catcher, where the insects would interact with the product, could benefit from the waxy coating.

In other news, while this wasn’t part of my BCI session, we have encountered several geckos so far—I think one might be chilling inside my cabin, actually…

You can see his little toe sticking to my hand. It was remarkably hard to pull them off. (Sorry for the grubby fingernails)

You can see his little toe sticking to my hand. It was remarkably hard to pull them off. (Sorry for the grubby fingernails)

But we’ve caught a few, and I got to hold one and take a closer look at it. I even dropped some water on it to see if the water droplets would bounce off.

The water didn't bounce off like I expected. Perhaps there was too much water. Or the spinules are not common to all geckos.

The water didn't bounce off like I expected. Perhaps there was too much water. Or the spinules are not common to all geckos.

After a while he started to trust us, and we could let him climb around on our hands without him trying to bolt.

He also changed colors, which was unexpected. I didn't know geckos had this capability. Will have to look into this further. Perhaps I take this up with the gecko chilling in my cabin.

 

A 6.3 | Identifying More Organisms

Gabe Pyle | A6.3

Project Update Report: Phase 1a
Biomimetic Strategy Identification

Project Summary:
The Biospire Insect Catcher is a biomimetic bug catcher for kids that allows them to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it. It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.

Purpose:
This report serves as an update on the biomimetic development of the Biospire Insect Catcher kit. The first phase of development resulted in identification of a critical function the product must accomplish and discovery of relevant biological strategies that could provide possible solutions for product functions. The results of this first phase of product development are outlined below.

Selected Function:

One of the critical functions the Biospire Insect Catcher must accomplish is repelling and expelling solids and liquids so that the product will remain clean, and the view of the captured insects remains unobstructed. 

Organisms that perform this function:
Geckos
Plants
Springtails

The strategies each of these organisms use to perform this function:

Geckos

The skin of geckos is self-cleaning

The skin of geckos is self-cleaning

How it accomplishes the function:
he skin of the gecko is covered with tiny microstructures called spinules that collect water into larger droplets. The energy of the water being collected propel the drops of water off the gecko, keeping the gecko clean.

Strategies used:
Shape (spinules)

Why it’s effective:
The gecko’s skin cleans itself passively, using the energy of the water itself to propel it off the skin. 

 

Plants

Water beads on a plant leaf

Water beads on a plant leaf

How it accomplishes the function:
Many blooming plants have a waxy layer of “skin” that protects the plant from losing moisture as well as from microbial infections. 

Strategies used:
Materials 

Why it’s effective:
The waxy cuticle is impermeable to water, preventing dehydration from the inside as well as invasion from the outside

Serving another function:
The cuticle not only protects from excess water, but it also helps reflect harmful UV rays

The Springtail, barely the size of a pin's head

The Springtail, barely the size of a pin's head

How it accomplishes the function:

The skin of the springtail has three layers of protection. First, the skin is covered in tiny bristles that create a layer of air around the skin. Second, the skin is covered in tiny bumps that prevent water from collecting. Finally, each bump has a microscopic overhang that prevents fluids from progressing.

Strategies used:
Shape (three levels)
Geometry (bumps are arranged in a geometric pattern)

Why it’s effective:
The three-level protection is so effective that springtails are always spotlessly clean. Even microbial infections like E.coli were unable to attach to the springtails skin

 

Selected Strategy or Strategies:
Considering the remarkable cleanliness of the springtail, the three-tiered strategy is worth considering. However, even if the three-tiered approach is not achievable, the product could at least borrow from the gecko skin. Perhaps the containers could use multiple strategies to solve for cleanliness, especially as the material will be exposed on both the outside of the container as well as the inside.

 

Conclusions
The microstructure should be pursued first. If unsuccessful, consider a waxy-coating.

 

A 6.2 | Identifying Organisms

Gabe Pyle | A6.2

Project Update Report: Phase 1
Biomimetic Strategy Identification

Project Summary:
The Biospire Insect Catcher is a biomimetic bug catcher for kids that allows them to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it. It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.

Purpose:
This report serves as an update on the biomimetic development of the Biospire Insect Catcher kit. The first phase of development resulted in identification of a critical function the product must accomplish and discovery of relevant biological strategies that could provide possible solutions for product functions. The results of this first phase of product development are outlined below.

Selected Function:
Of the possible functions this Insect Catcher would need to perform, the most critical function is the ability to capture living organisms—specifically in a matter that does no harm to the organism.

Organisms that perform this function:
The Bladderwort
The Marsh Pitcher Plant
The Blue Whale

The strategies each of these organisms use to perform this function:

The Bladderwort

The bladderwort is a tiny underwater carnivorous plant that uses a vacuum action to suck its prey into its special leaves. The chamber-like leaves of the bladderwort are equipped with a special gland the pumps water out of the chamber, creating negative pressure inside. The door to the chamber is rigged with sensitive bristles. If a small creature disturbs these bristles, it misaligns the door, creating an opening through which water may rush into the chamber, equalizing the pressure, and sweeping the prey into the chamber with it. The bladderwort then excretes digestive enzymes to break down the prey.

Strategies Used:
Shape (Dome-like chamber and door)
Process (equalization of pressure)

Why it’s effective:
Underwater carnivorous plants aren’t able to use gravity to their advantage the way land-based carnivorous plants are. Instead, they use the force of the water around them.

The Marsh Pitcher Plant

The Marsh Pitcher Plant

The Marsh Pitcher Plant

Similar to the bladderwort, the marsh pitcher is a carnivorous plant. Unlike the bladderwort, the marsh pitcher captures its prey passively. The leaves of the marsh pitcher curl to form a pitcher, which collects rainwater, with a small, nectar-producing hood above. The insects, inspecting the plant for more nectar, travel down into the plant pitcher where long, slippery hairs prevent the insect from climbing back up. As the insect slides down, it reaches a point in the plant pitcher where there are no hairs. Instead, the plant wall is slick and waxy. The insect can no longer climb out. It falls into the water where it drowns. Bacterial decay dissolves the insect into the water, and the pitcher absorbs the nutrients.

Strategies used:
Shape (pitcher, long hairs)
Material (waxy coating)

Why it’s effective
The marsh pitcher plant captures its prey with minimal effort, using the combination of the insect’s curiosity, the slipperiness of the long hairs and waxy coating of the pitcher wall, the force of gravity, and the collection of rainwater to passively drown its prey. The only energy the marsh pitcher must exert is in producing the nectar to attract the insects.

The baleen of a blue whale

The baleen of a blue whale

The filtering process a blue whale uses to capture krill

The filtering process a blue whale uses to capture krill

Blue whales

The blue whale, like many large whales, eats only tiny sea creatures called krill. The whale’s mouth is equipped with baleen, sheets of horn, feathered at the end, that create a filter in the mouth of the whale. The whale sucks in a mouthful of water, bringing the krill in with it. The whale then pushes its tongue forward to expel the water and trap the krill in the baleen.

Strategies used:
Process (intake and outtake of water)
Form (feathered horn)
Geometry (baleen hangs parallel like curtains on either side of mouth

Why it’s effective:
The blue whale has developed a method for filtering out its tiny prey from the surrounding water through a combination of fluid dynamics (the intake and outtake of water) and the baleen, which works like a lice comb, catching enough krill for the whale to eat.

Selected Strategy:
Considering the above strategies, the bladderwort presents some a promising strategy for further investigation. The strategy is similar to the way many water-based carnivores move their food into their mouth, sucking water through their mouth to move the food towards their throat (the blue whale is an excellent example). However, the bladderwort’s execution of hydraulic suction takes place not as a result of the organism enacting the sucking mechanism at that moment. Instead, the bladderwort exerts is energy in setting a “trap” that uses the force of the surrounding water for the suction, removing timing from equation. This could be useful in creating a Insect Catcher that doesn’t depend upon an electric motor moving air through a tube in the way a vacuum cleaner sucks air, but instead uses the kind of suction used in a turkey baster.

Conclusions:
The final iteration of this product may not end up resembling the bladderwort, but the principles upon which the bladderwort operate could prove useful in creating a biomimetic bug catcher.

A 5.2a Identifying Functions

The following is an exercise in identifying functions of design problems we might encounter today. For each problem, I have identified not only what the design is supposed to DO, but also what functions those actions might translate into.

 

Problem: We need a way to provide housing to people displaced by natural disasters.

       What do we want to DO?

       Protect from elements

       Protect from thieving

       Set up quickly

       Stay in one spot

       Be inexpensive

       Hold multiple people

       Hold multiple people comfortably

       Allow for basic electrical use

       Stay warm enough

       Stay cool enough

       Allow for circulation of air

       Allow for people to enter/exit

       Provide for biological needs

       Food storage

       Sleep

       Bathroom

       Functions

       Attach

       Temporarily

       Permanently

       Protect from biotic factors

       Animals

       Fungi

       Protect from abiotic factors

       Excess liquids

       Winds

       Gasses

       Fire

       Ice

       Temperature

       Prevent structural failure

       Buckling

       Deformation

       Fatigue

       Melting

       Manage structural forces

       Thermal shock

       Impact

       Tension

       Turbulence

       Mechanical wear

       Chemical wear

       Compression

       Coordinate

       Groups

       Systems

       Provide ecosystem services

       Regulate habitat response to disturbance

       Regulate water storage

       Regulate climate (small scale)

       Store

       Bulk solids

       Energy

       Liquids

       Distribute

       Liquids

       Gases

       Energy

       Expel

       Solids

       Liquids

       Gases

Problem: Our laptops are too noisy.

       What do we want to DO?

       Open and shut

       Process data

       Visualize data

       Input data

       Store data

       Stay cool enough

       Stay quiet

       Stay where we put it

       Stay dry

       Fit in our laps

       Use a battery

       Hold a charge

       Fit in a bag

       Weigh enough to carry easily

       Functions

       Attach

       Permanently (on hinge)

       Temporarily (on latch, also on table/lap)

       Protect from abiotic factors

       Dirt/solids

       Chemicals

       Temperature

       Manage structural forces

       Thermal shock

       Impact

       Tension

       Compression

       Prevent structural failure

       Buckling

       Deformation

       Modify

       Light/color

       Energy state

       Electron transport

       Generate/convert

       Electrical energy

       Mechanical energy

       Radiant energy

       Send signals

       Light

       Sound

       Tactile

       Electrical/magnetic

       Sense signals

       Touch and mechanical forces

       Electricity/magnetism

       Compute/Learn/Encode/Decode

       Store

       Energy

       Distribute

       Energy

       Gases

       Expel

       Gases

 

A 5.3b Biomimetic Design Brief

The following is a hypothetical design brief drafted from a fictional toy company. The brief requests a design for a biomimetic, safe-to-use bug catching kit that allows kids ages 8-12 to capture, study, store, and release insects in a safe manner.

 


Biospsire Toys, LLC.
Biospire Insect Catcher Design Brief
July 2015

  • Project Description
    • The Biospire Insect Catcher is a bug catcher for kids that allows kids to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it.
    • It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.
    • It may or may not have electrical components.
    • It should have a magnifying component so that kids can see the insects up close and personal.
    • It should come in a kit with accessories for different kinds of bugs or different kinds of situations.
    • The accessories should not be floating but should nest or attach to the main body of the insect catcher.
    • The insect catcher should be rugged enough to use and be left outside.
    • It should be easy to clean, and all components that could possibly contain an insect should be completely see-through so that supervising adults can be sure that the catcher is empty before storing it away.
  • The purpose of the design, what the design is intended to do
    • Help inspire future entomologists
    • Allow kids to study insects closely
    • Get kids outside
    • Keep kids (and insects) safe as they study insects
  • The aim or goals of the design (e.g. generate sales, modify behavior)
    • Allow kids to play with bugs in a way that doesn’t teach children to harm the environmen
    • Inspire the future leaders of entomology
    • Enable curious minds to study insects
    • Create the best, safest, best selling bug catcher on the market
    • Keep kids safe
    • Keep bugs safe
  • What do we want the design to DO?
    • Catch insects
      • In a way that is harmless to the insects
      • In a variety of circumstances
        • Inside
        • Outside
        • In the dark
        • From the ground
        • From the air
        • Off of leaves
        • Off the wall
        • In tight corners
        • In water?
    • Store insects for study
      • Secure
      • Harmless
    • Store different sizes of insects for study
    • Allow for magnification of study
    • Allow for easy release of insects
    • Hold multiple insects
    • Not break under duress
    • Keep water out
    • Viewing compartments maintain transparency
    • Clean easily
  • What functions will the Insect Catcher need to perform
    • Attach
      • Temporarily (compartments for insects)
    • Protect from biotic factors
      • Animals
      • Fungi
      • Microbes
    • Protect from abiotic factors
      • Light
      • Temperature
      • Excess Liquids
    • Prevent structural failure
      • Deformation
      • Melting (from being left outside)
    • Modify
      • Light/color (magnification)
      • Size/shape (different sized insects?)
    • Capture
      • Organisms
    • Store
      • Organisms
    • Expel
      • Organisms (releasing insects)
      • Solids/liquids (keeping insect catcher clean)
  • The target consumer, user, or audience for the design
    • Ages 8-12, boy or girl
    • Their parents
  • Any values or messages you want the design to communicate
    • Insects are crazy cool!
    • They were here first, and they’ll be here after we’re gone. Study them, enjoy them, but respect them and their homes.
    • Sometimes insects are cool to look at, but sometimes it’s better not to touch them
    • Anyone can study insects
  • The context or operating conditions within which your design will function
    • The design will need to be sturdy enough to survive the treatment of a 6-year old, and leaving it outside all night or all day.
    • It will also need to be able to contain live insects in a way that keeps the insects alive, but prevents them from escaping.
  •  
  • Examples of existing similar designs
    • Discovery Kids Outdoor Adventure Bug Collector
  • Weather Wiz Kids Bug Collector Kit
  • Chad Valley Insect Catcher Kit 
  •  Timeframe for completion
    • 5 weeks
  • Any constraints or non-negotiables
    • Can’t break easily
    •  Can’t kill or injure the insects
    • Can’t let insects escape on their own
    • Leaving the toy outside can’t compromise the design.
    • Doesn’t need to be waterproof, but getting it wet shouldn’t break it
    • Easy to clean out

A 5.1b Portfolio Project Design Brief

The following is a hypothetical design brief drafted from a fictional toy company. The brief requests a design for a safe-to-use bug catching kit that allows kids ages 8-12 to capture, study, store, and release insects in a safe manner.

 


Biospsire Toys, LLC.
Biospire Insect Catcher Design Brief
July 2015

  • Project Description
    • The Biospire Insect Catcher is a bug catcher for kids.
    • It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.
    • It may or may not have electrical components.
    • It should have a magnifying component so that kids can see the insects up close and personal.
    • It should come in a kit with accessories for different kinds of bugs or different kinds of situations.
    • The accessories should not be floating but should nest or attach to the main body of the insect catcher.
    • The insect catcher should be rugged enough to use and be left outside.
    • It should be easy to clean, and all components that could possibly contain an insect should be completely see-through so that supervising adults can be sure that the catcher is empty before storing it away.
  • The purpose of the design, what the design is intended to do
    • Help inspire future entomologists
    • Allow kids to study insects closely
    • Get kids outside
    • Keep kids (and insects) safe as they study insects
  • The aim or goals of the design (e.g. generate sales, modify behavior)
    • Inspire the future leaders of entomology
    • Enable curious minds to study insects
    • Create the best, safest, best selling bug catcher on the market
    • Keep kids safe
    • Keep bugs safe
  • The target consumer, user, or audience for the design
    • Ages 8-12, boy or girl
    • Their parents
  • Any values or messages you want the design to communicate
    • Insects are crazy cool!
    • Sometimes insects are cool to look at, but sometimes it’s better not to touch them
    • Anyone can study insects
  • The context or operating conditions within which your design will function
    • The design will need to be sturdy enough to survive the treatment of a 6-year old, and leaving it outside all night or all day.
    • It will also need to be able to contain live insects in a way that keeps the insects alive, but prevents them from escaping.
  • Examples of existing similar designs
    • Discovery Kids Outdoor Adventure Bug Collector
  • Weather Wiz Kids Bug Collector Kit
  • Chad Valley Insect Catcher Kit 
  •  Timeframe for completion
    • 5 weeks
  • Any constraints or non-negotiables
    • Can’t break easily
    •  Can’t kill or injure the insects
    • Can’t let insects escape on their own
    • Leaving the toy outside can’t compromise the design.
    • Doesn’t need to be waterproof, but getting it wet shouldn’t break it
    • Easy to clean out

BCI Session 4.1

Be:

I think for this BCI session, Nature was trying to help me take the “Be” portion a little too literally. I found a nice spot next to a hill and sat for a few moments in peace before a bumble bee started hovering right next to my ear. Now I’ve been getting better at sitting and focusing for ten minutes, but having that buzzing sound so close to my ear forced me to move a couple times. And it gave me the willies.

 

Contemplate:

Notice the wide variety of different functions and strategies there are in the natural spot.

As for contemplating the functions in nature around me, I had to consider the way a bee maintains altitude despite its fat little body. I also noticed how mosquitos draw blood painlessly. I’ll be contemplating that function for a few more days, I’m sure.

A few other functions I noticed:

A mouse hiding under leaves for protection

How plants survive and recover when their leaves are damaged

How mosquitos can even sense blood in the first place (heat? smell?)

Moss growing out of old, rotting wood, using the nutrients of the old to create something new

A vine-like plant wrapping itself around a taller tree to gain access to sunlight

Trees putting most of their leaves at the canopy and only a few where there’s only a little sunlight

Birds communicating back and forth via chirping

Lightning bug illuminating its back end

 

Imagine:

How might one or two of these functions or strategies be used as the basis for a radically innovative new product design?

The bioluminescence of the lightning bug could have really radical implications for road safety. Anything from pedestrians to bikers to vehicles, bioluminescence could change the way we see each other on the road. I think it’d be cool to have the back end of a car illuminate naturally, perhaps as part of a chemical process that helps maintain another function of the car (maintaining operational temperature, maintaining passenger temperature, propulsion, etc.). The whole back end could glow and pulse as it operates.

For bikers, perhaps the motion of the pedaling could churn up some kind of bioluminescence-like lighting system on the bike or the biker itself so that pedaling the bike “charges” the light, saving energy when the bike is not in use.

In looking at the leaves and how the trees maintain them, it’d be amazing if our solar cells could respond the same way leaves do— maybe the solar cell structure could produce a multitude of solar cells, and each one would tilt to find maximum sunlight exposure. Solar cells that don’t receive enough light could collapse and reintegrate into the solar cell structure for later use, allowing the system to only expend energy on maintaining the solar cells that are capturing more energy than they require to maintain. 

BCI Session 3

Today I finally made it up to the pond. I was wearing proper shoes, so I was able to traverse the muddy terrain leading up to it.

Once there, I found a shady spot (the sun does not love on my ginger skin) and started my BCI session.

I had a much easier time keeping my eyes closed and focusing on my surroundings. Only once or twice did I find myself forgetting my discipline and looking around. One of those times was when a poor creature let out a squawk across the pond. It might have been captured or killed or something. Circle of life.

Once I opened my eyes, I began pondering the pond. The body of water is about ten feet above the surrounding terrain, and a small dam controls the flow of water into the stream that runs by the building where I work. I started to wonder where the water went—