Rocket scientists test a thinking cap

Even rocket scientists aiming for the moon can use some help to think creatively, reports Reshma Patil.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 02:33 IST

Even rocket scientists aiming for the moon can use some help to think creatively.

As India’s satellite programme gets more ambitious, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is testing software that borrows ideas from flying insects, blooming flowers and hopping kangaroos to inspire its satellite designers to think outside the box.

Last month, the Ideas Lab — a group that researches creativity in product design at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore — licensed a customised software for a confidential sum to the innovation wing of global conglomerate IMI Cornelius. This design, led by Ideas Lab founder Amaresh Chakrabarti, is going global, but it was originally developed to inspire ISRO scientists two years ago.

“It helps rocket scientists because they are sometimes fixated to specific, earlier ideas to solve a problem,” said Chakrabarti. “It shows entirely new ways to consider a problem, with potential of creating designs different from past ones.” When a designer feeds his design constraints, the software scours hundreds of textual and animated analogies from nature and engineering to list relevant thinking stimuli — like a flying mosquito — to help the designer find novel solutions.

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First Published: Jan 23, 2007 02:33 IST