Janine Benyus has a message for inventors: When solving a design problem, look to nature first. There you'll find inspired designs for making things waterproof, aerodynamic, solar-powered and more. Here she reveals dozens of new products that take their cue from nature with spectacular results.
In the world envisioned by science author Janine Benyus, a locust's ability to avoid collision within a roiling cloud of its brethren informs the design of a crash-resistant car; a self-cleaning leaf inspires a new kind of paint, one that dries in a pattern that enables simple rainwater to wash away dirt; and organisms capable of living without water open the way for vaccines that maintain potency even without refrigeration -- a hurdle that can prevent life-saving drugs from reaching disease-torn communities. Most important, these cool tools from nature pull off their tricks while still managing to preserve the environment that sustains them, a life-or-death lesson that humankind is in need of learning.
As a champion of biomimicry, Benyus has become one of the most important voices in a new wave of designers and engineers inspired by nature. Her most recent project, AskNature, explores what happens if we think of nature by function and looks at what organisms can teach us about design.