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Use of Biological Phenomena in Design by Analogy

[+] Author Affiliations
T. W. Mak, L. H. Shu

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Paper No. DETC2004-57303, pp. 167-176; 10 pages
  • ASME 2004 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3a: 16th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, September 28–October 2, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4696-2 | eISBN: 0-7918-3742-4
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


Biomimetic design involves the use of biological phenomena as analogies to solve engineering problems. The use of biological knowledge in natural-language format to support biomimetic design removes the need to create and maintain a database of biological phenomena for engineering purposes. However, challenges arise in recognition and extraction of relevant strategies in biological phenomena and the application of these strategies to the target problem. This paper describes two studies of how descriptions of biological phenomena are used to develop solutions to an example problem. Participants were informed of the types of similarities to avoid that were observed in a previous study. The occurrence of such non-analogous similarities declined. Two types of fixation were observed during the first study: fixation on certain words instead of the overall strategy presented in descriptions and fixation on certain solutions regardless of the description used as stimuli. The second study aimed to reduce these types of fixation. While fixation was observed to decrease in the second study, the need for support of analogical mapping persisted.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME
Topics: Design



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