Tag Archives: innovation in nature

Innovation in Nature – Velcro

Innovation in Nature – Velcro

The inspiration for innovation can come from many places. One of the best places to look is in nature. Nature has been solving its own problems for millions of years and has had plenty of time to work out the bugs and become sustainable.


Biomimicry is a science that gets its inspiration from nature’s designs and processes and uses them to help solve problems. The invention of Velcro is an example of a solution that found a problem to solve. It’s proof that one man’s annoyance could be turned into something very valuable.


I know the way the Velcro “hook and loop” system works because it’s a valuable piece of my own invention, the wrist water bottle. The Velcro is used on the velstretch wrist band to fit snuggly on the wrist. 


Anyone who had been out walking and come home with cockle-burs stuck to their pants could have invented Velcro. But it was a curious man named George de Mestral, who was hunting in the Jura mountains one day with his dog that took the time to inspect the cockle-burs under a microscope to examine how they attached themselves to his pants to solve a fashion problem for the world and make himself rich.


Curiosity is one of the top traits all inventors share and George was intensely curious. He wanted to know how the burs were able to stick to his pants and to his dog’s fur so strongly. He discovered the hooks on the plant attach to the threads on your clothing. He decided he wanted to create a hook and loop type of fastener that would be better than a zipper.


Like all inventions, his new hook and loop product did not turn out perfectly right out of the gate. It took many tries to get the design perfect. Along the way people would laugh at the idea, which is what also happens to many inventors. But George was patient, and after eight years of trial and error experimentation he finally perfected the hook and loop invention. One side had the hooks and the other had the loops. When you pressed them together they created a strong and durable fastener which is now known as Velcro. A patent was issued in 1955.


The next time you’re out in nature, look around you. Mother nature has perfected systems and designs that are just waiting for a curious inventor to discover.




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Innovation in Nature – Cell Phone Screens

Innovation in Nature – Cell Phone Screens

How many times have you tried to use your cell phone in bright sunlight and were unable to see the screen? Thanks to mother nature, that may be a thing of the past.


According to the Optic Society, “Reflection is the major reason it’s difficult to read a phone screen in bright sunlight, as the strong light reflecting off the screen’s surface washes out the display.”


American Physist and inventor Shin-Tson Wu, a professor at the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida has potentially found a better way thanks to the moth. He was inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes to develop a new antireflection film.


The eyes of moths, who are mostly nocturnal, are covered with a pattern of antireflective nanostructures that allow moths to see in the dark. They also prevent them from being seen by predators.


A recent article in Scientific American explains the concept. “A moth’s eye is coated with tiny, uniform bumps that gradually bend (or refract) incoming light. The light waves interfere with one another and cancel one another out, rendering the eyes dark.”


Experimentation has been done to reduce the sunlight off of the surface of solar cells, so Wu and his team thought the same technique might also work on mobile screens. Current cell phones can boost the readability, but they also drain the battery.


The new film makes it 4 times easier to read in sunlight and 10 times easier to read in the shade. The special films may also serve another purpose which is to keep your phone screen from getting fingerprints. They have a built-in, self-cleaning effect since the film is able to repel moisture. They are also scratch-proof.


Nature is one of the best places to go to find solutions to problems. Inventors have been doing it for centuries.




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