Extraction and Transfer of Biological Analogies for Creative Concept Generation

Hyunmin Cheong, Ivey Chiu, L. H. Shu

ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
2010

Abstract

Biomimetic design, which borrows ideas from nature to solve engineering problems, has been identified as a promising method of concept generation. However, there are still many challenges. Previous research has revealed that novice designers have difficulties in extracting the analogical strategy present in biological phenomena and mapping the strategy even if the strategy is provided. This research, therefore, attempts to develop tools that could assist novice designers to execute effective biomimetic design and ultimately generate creative concepts. In particular, we investigated the use of tools developed by the authors: 1) a causal relation template that helps retrieve relevant strategies from biological descriptions and 2) instructional mapping rules that aid structural mapping of the strategies to design concepts and abstraction of the enabling functions of the strategies. We found that the participants who used both tools generated concepts with significant correlation between the correctness of analogical transfer and creativity of the concepts. This effect was not observed for the participants who only used the first tool, mainly because of the participants’ inability to explore enabling solutions for the applied biological strategy and generate concepts that are wholly developed. To encourage generation of creative ideas in biomimetic design, the tools must be devised to facilitate abstraction of biological strategies, enable effective mapping of strategies from biology to engineering, and discourage design fixation.

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