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Drawing Inspiration from Nature: 5 Technologies Based on Animals

Humans may have opposable thumbs, but it takes a lot more than that to rise to the forefront of innovation. Animals have evolved traits to make them more adept at necessary survival skills, and humans do a lot of inventing to face the same challenges. Brilliant creators have derived inspiration from animal qualities, and made adaptable devices that allow humans to have the same capabilities.


Image source Pixabay

Echolocation Helps The Blind

A lot of animals, particularly those that live in the depths of the ocean or other environments with insufficient light, use natural sonar to communicate and gauge distances. People have not yet mastered natural echolocation, but technology has. Sonar technology helps the blind navigate their environments. Inventions like the Ultracane translate sonar bounces into vibrations, assisting visually impaired individuals as they travel from place to place.

Sharkskin Keeps Us Healthy

A shark’s skin is composed of millions of tiny scales, and these scales create a surface that’s nearly impossible for bacteria to hold onto. A company called Sharklet has invented a plastic film, engineered to the same specifications of a shark’s hide. It’s been tested in hospitals, and has been shown to repel bacteria such as staph and e. coli. The company intends to create different versions of the material that can be used to coat surfaces that are frequently exposed to germs.

Cats Revolutionized Your Corkboard

How many times have you attempted to pin something to the wall, and accidentally stuck yourself reaching into your box of thumbtacks? Tacks keep us organized, but accident prone people often fall victim to the pointy ends. Toshi Fukaya, an inventor from Japan, came up with a solution to the common problem, simply by mimicking a cat’s claws. Cats are able to retract their claws when they don’t need them, and Fukaya invented a retracting thumb tack that isn’t sharp until you’ve pinned it to a corkboard.

Bird Beaks Make for Smooth Travel

High speed rail systems help people get around quickly, but there’s no way to beat wind resistance. When traveling through tunnels, bullet trains make loud noises. As the train rushes through the tunnel, the nose of the train is often met with wind resistance that rattles the cabin. By redesigning the front of the train to look more like the bill of a bird, trains became quieter and far more aerodynamic.

Whale Fins Get the Air Moving

Humpback whales are very heavy, yet they’re able to navigate through the water with relative ease. A marine biologist discovered that these whales actually have large lumps in their flippers, which would suggest that they would be less hydrodynamic. A mock up whale fin tested in a wind tunnel overturned everything we know about physics. Not only was the whale fin incredibly aerodynamic, it was 20% more efficient than a flat fin. Because of this, the marine biologist designed fans with blades that mimic the natural stature of a whale fin. As it would turn out, the bumpy blades see the same 20% boost in efficiency.

Animals are amazing, and through careful observation, we’ve been able to mimic their superpowers. The next time you wonder how an animal is capable of performing an incredible feat, study. You may be able to invent a device that will provide humans with the same ability.

Harriet Robinson is a blogger with a passion for all kinds of animals and everything connected to them. Harriet is also a part of the team behind MiPet Insurance, experts in the field of pet safety.

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