OnQ Blog

New Course at UC Berkeley Changes the Course for Product Design

As the students of UC Berkeley converged back on campus this semester (Spring 2011), a new course taught by Tom McKeag titled, "How Would Nature Do That?" appeared in their elective offerings from the College of Natural Resources. The course is focused on biomimicry, the study of nature to find solutions that are typically both more resource efficient and environmentally sustainable than standard solutions.

This course is sponsored by QMT, the business unit behind mirasol® displays (where I work, if you've not been paying attention). We've discussed how our display technology is biomimetic before, but I want you to understand why we support the study of biomimicry so enthusiastically.

Here's the deal: our technology offers a completely unique value proposition (low power and color and video-quality refresh rate and sunlight viewability – no trade offs). The primary source for all these benefits is the nature-inspired design. Therefore, we think it's important to make the consumer understand this unique field of study because it’s correlated to the unique offerings of our technology. It's a badge of honor, if you will, and we think it will make a difference that will resonate with consumers.

Putting aside product differentiation for a moment, we also believe biomimicry is, on its own merit (and consistent with Qualcomm's efforts toward efficient design and sustainability), a field of study that should be supported by those companies who have leveraged it effectively. It's our obligation and we embrace it.

How will biomimicry reach critical mass as a discipline? We asked that question to our good friend Paula Brock, CFO at the Zoological Society of San Diego and leader of biomimicry efforts there. She told us:

"It's simple, really. Three things are needed for biomimicry to come into its own as a field of study:

1. Education – The concept of nature-inspired design must be included and presented in elementary to post-grad curricula and taught in an interdisciplinary format (engineers learning about bio, etc.).
2. Incubation – There needs to be a place where nature-inspired solutions can be sought and incubated. This is a place where both new and old problems can be examined and those seeking to solve them have at their finger tips a wide array of species from which to infer solutions.
3. Execution – Companies need to take these solutions and drive them to completion in the marketplace."

We believe she's right on target and while we are not in the business of educating or incubating as described here (though we have executed), we certainly can help fulfill this vision by supporting those efforts.

We believe it is in the consumer’s best interest to know and understand the wireless technologies that power their devices, especially if it can serve a greater good (less material, less energy consumption and greater performance).

To that end, we sponsor courses like Tom McKeag's, and will host students at our research and innovation facility. We build observatories for elementary school students to learn about the butterfly's biomimetic potential. And we sponsor and speak at biomimicry events culminating in the San Diego Zoo's 2011 Biomimicry Conference.

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies is not alone in this. Many Fortune 500 companies have a vested interest in this field – e.g., Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and Bank of America – and they’ll be in San Diego showing their support at the conference on April 14th.

Join us at the conference to see other innovations and to learn about the positive fiscal impact this could have.

For more information visit:
www.mirasoldisplays.com | Twitter | Facebook
San Diego Zoo Biomimicry | Blog

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