Comparing novelty of designs from biological-inspiration with those from brainstorming

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

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    This research aims to understand the significance of biological-analogies in fostering novelty by comparing biological-analogies with other design methods for idea generation. Among other design methods, brainstorming was chosen here as benchmark. Four studies were conducted to compare: (i) the levels of abstraction at which concepts were ideated using biological inspiration (represented using biocards) with that using traditional brainstorming; and (ii) the novelty of concepts produced by using these two design methods. Concepts produced in these studies were evaluated for levels of abstraction at which they were ideated, average novelty, and proportion of high-novelty concepts. Results suggest that concepts generated using biocards were ideated at higher abstraction levels than those using brainstorming, but neither were at the highest abstraction levels. The average novelty of concepts produced using biocards was found to be greater than that using brainstorming; however, no statistically significant difference was found in the proportion of high-novelty concepts. We suspect the lack of biological knowledge and cultural difference among the subjects involved in our studies as the two reasons behind the results. The results demonstrate that the design methods substantially influence the novelty of concepts generated, while indicating the need for better training in effective use of biological-analogies.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Engineering Design
    Issue number10-12
    Pages (from-to)654–680
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Biologically inspired design
    • Conceptual design
    • Creative-design
    • Creativity
    • Design methods


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