Searching for biological analogies appropriate for design problems is a core process of biologically inspired design (BID). Through in situ observations of student BIDs, we discovered that student designers struggle with two issues that bookend the problem of search: design problem formulation, which generates the set of conditions to be used for search; and evaluation of the appropriateness of the retrieved analogies, which depends both on problem formulation and the retrieved analogy. We describe a method for problem formulation and analogy evaluation in BID that we call the Four-Box method. We show that the Four-Box method can be rapidly and accurately used by designers for both problem formulation and analogy evaluation, and that designers find the method valuable for the intended tasks.
The Four-Box Method: Problem Formulation and Analogy Evaluation in Biologically Inspired Design
Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received January 24, 2014; final manuscript received July 30, 2014; published online October 8, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Robert B. Stone.
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Helms, M., and Goel, A. K. (October 8, 2014). "The Four-Box Method: Problem Formulation and Analogy Evaluation in Biologically Inspired Design." ASME. J. Mech. Des. November 2014; 136(11): 111106. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4028172
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