Supporting Analogical Transfer in Biologically Inspired Design



Biologically inspired design (BID) is an emergent area of research for understanding design with biological mechanisms as inspiration, and for supporting systematic BID for developing creative designs. Understanding and supporting the processes of analogical transfer, whereby potential biological material is identified and adapted to solve engineering problems, is the focus of this chapter. Two questions are asked: At what level does analogical transfer take place? How to support analogical transfer? Our empirical studies show that transfer generally takes place at four levels of abstraction: state change, organ, attribute, and part. When unaided, BID is dominated by transfer at part, attribute, and organ levels, which reduces potential for creativity. This led to development of new guidelines for supporting systematic analogical transfer, an Integrated Framework for designing to encourage transfer at each level of abstraction, and a computational tool called ‘Idea-Inspire’ to provide analogically relevant biological stimuli for inspiration at any of these levels. Comparative studies using these interventions show significant increase in the number of transferred designs when aided by these interventions and a shift in the majority of the transfer to state change and organ levels, thereby increasing the potential for greater creativity.


Analogical transfer Biomimetics Biological stimuli Engineering design Guidelines Idea-inspire GEMS of SAPPhIRE Novelty Usefulness Creativity Technical product development 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Innovation, Design Study and Sustainability Laboratory (IdeasLab)Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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