OnQ Blog

What do butterflies, displays and an elementary school have in common?

You may recall a previous blog from Jim Cathey (Qualcomm MEMS Technologies) that touched on how mirasol displays are biomimetic (that is, technology inspired by observing natural processes). In short, our displays create color in almost exactly the same way color is produced in some butterfly wings. This biomimetic piece of the puzzle is more than just an interesting tidbit or marketing tool. It has actually helped foster some of the most interesting and wonderfully important relationships we have.

For instance, as the world’s largest keeper of species, the Zoological Society of San Diego (proprietors of the San Diego Zoo right here in our backyard) has taken a keen interest in making its collections available for biomimetic study. The ZSSD facilitates an annual conference on the topic, as well as dozens of other efforts, whose single aim is to make biomimetics an embraced business practice.

Our mirasol displays are just one great example of the amazing innovations possible when nature is your inspiration. Recognizing that, we follow the ZSSD’s lead on many of their initiatives.

One such lead that we enthusiastically follow is in regards to education. We think our story of nature-inspired technology can help inspire youth to look to nature for solutions for very difficult problems.

I had the opportunity almost a year ago to be part of a ceremony that put that plan in action in Taiwan. During the opening ceremonies of the new mirasol displays fabrication facility in the Longtan Science Park, both Qualcomm and Foxlink committed significant resources to building a butterfly observatory for the local elementary school district.

By establishing an observatory right there on their school grounds, these kids not only have an up close example of the biological behaviors mimicked in mirasol displays, but they have a place where the true study of natural phenomena can take place. I went back to the school a few weeks ago (about 11 months after we kicked off the project) to check on the progress and was truly moved by the inspiration, enthusiasm and intellect of these kids. Not only were the butterflies thriving, but the overall ecological observation and education I witnessed there was amazing.

The goal is simple. Introduce or change the scientific approach to one where nature’s ability to solve problems is recognized, utilized and appreciated. What a success story! I’ve been very proud of many of our technological and business achievements, but none more so than what we’ve achieved with our friends at the Zoological Society of San Diego, Foxlink and Longtan Elementary School.

P.S. Enjoy these pics from my trip!


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