Sensing in nature - using biomimetics for design of sensors

Torben Lenau and Michael Barfoed
Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management
Technical University of Denmark
Building 424 DK - 2800 Lyngby, Denmark
Phone: +45 4525 4811 Fax: +45 4525 4803

The paper illustrates how biomimetics can be applied in sensor design. Biomimetics is an engineering discipline that uses nature as an inspiration source for generating ideas for how to solve engineering problems. Using biomimetics involves a search for relevant cases, a proper analysis of the biological solutions, identification of design principles and design of the desired artefact. We use a search method developed at University of Toronto. It is based on formulation of relevant keywords and search for occurrences in a standard university biology textbook. Most often a simple formulation of keywords and a following search is not enough to generate a sufficient amount of useful ideas or the search gives to many results. This is handled by a more advanced search strategy where the search is either widened or it is focused further mainly using biological synonyms. The paper also reviews a number of biomimetic studies of sense organs in animals.