Biocards and Level of Abstraction

Torben Anker Lenau, Sonal Keshwani, Amaresh Chakrabarti, Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen

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    Biocards are formal descriptions of biological phenomena and their underlying functional principles. They are used in bioinspired design to document search results and to communicate the findings for use in the further design process. The present study explored the effect of abstraction level used in biocards. This was done in two workshops conducted with design students in Denmark and India. Students were given a design assignment and instructions for how to perform the BID ideation work. Half of the students were given biocards with abstract descriptions while the other half got biocards with concrete descriptions. The novelty of found solutions was evaluated by the students by rating novelty of each solution on a scale from 1 to 5. Mean values for abstract descriptions were 0,3 higher than for concrete descriptions indicating that more innovative solutions were found when students used biocards with abstract descriptions compared to concrete descriptions. The difference in mean value is significant with a confidence level better than 1%. It seems likely that more abstract descriptions in biocards helps avoiding design fixation in biomimetic design work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED15)
    Number of pages10
    PublisherDesign Society
    Publication date2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Event20th International Conference on Engineering Design: Design for Life - Milan, Italy
    Duration: 27 Jul 201531 Jul 2015
    Conference number: 20


    Conference20th International Conference on Engineering Design
    Internet address


    • Bio-inspired design and biomimetics
    • Biocards
    • Abstraction level
    • Analogical reasoning


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