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Design by DNA an analogical approach to design. Damian Rogers. What is Design by DNA?. Method to design the functional form of a product IE: the characteristics a product must have in order to describe its function in relation with requirements (do 0-60 in 3s)

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what is design by dna
What is Design by DNA?
  • Method to design the functional form of a product
    • IE: the characteristics a product must have in order to describe its function in relation with requirements (do 0-60 in 3s)
    • There is also the aesthetic form (be aesthetically pleasing)
  • Uses an analogy to biological DNA
    • Promotes faster “cookie-cutter” design
    • Allows a more direct approach to novel designs
why an analogy
Why an analogy?
  • Engineering design problems are becoming increasingly complex
  • Need a way to lower the complexity into easier to handle portions
  • Analogies lower problem complexity
    • relates a problem to something that is familiar or well-known
why a dna analogy
Why a DNA analogy?
  • The “building blocks of life” – building blocks of artefacts
  • Nature uses DNA to preserve information for organisms
  • Humans tend to throw away this same information and/or do not update it with advances
    • Operations manual covered by countless layers of dust
  • Keeping information helps create products more efficiently and with better results
    • Lets us see what worked/did not work before
  • Nature is inherently sustainable, so then a design process based off nature should also be sustainable
analogous processes
Analogous Processes
  • Designed products and biological entities share many common phenomena
    • Lifecycle processes, evolution, natural selection, mutation, etc
evolution why laptops are like giraffes
Evolution – why laptops are like giraffes
  • Both evolved for specific reasons
    • Giraffe evolved a long neck to have no competition to eat the food from high branches
    • The “toughbook” laptop evolved into a product which is more rugged to protect against accidental drops
products evolving
Products Evolving

Light pen on hard specialized monitor

Touch sensitive kiosk screen

PDA with touch screen

Mobile phone with touch screen

Products evolve over time

Evolve through external influences

Internally, through genetic mutation or inter-breeding

Through scientific advances

natural selection
Natural Selection
  • We use “natural selection” for artifacts
    • I term it ‘anthropogenic’ selection
    • Consider “Beta” and “HD DVD”
  • Selection is partly in/out of our control
    • Factors like:
      • Environment
      • Media
      • Market analysis
      • Economy
      • Current affairs
  • Permanent change to the genetic structure
    • Spontaneous or induced, beneficial or harmful
  • Occurs in artefacts too
    • Manufacturing defects
    • On-site changes
    • Part replacement
    • Technology change
    • Design decision
analogous structures
Analogous Structures
  • Living things have a DNA profile, containing genes that describe the functional (and sometimes physical) characteristics.
  • Similarly, when we design a product, we start by creating a list of characteristics/functions we wish the final product to have.
  • Designs can be described by a DNA profile, made up of a set of genes, which describes the form
    • Sometimes referred to as embodiments
  • A gene is expressed as a certain performance characteristic, feature or function
  • Each gene then has a subset of 'gene options', which are possible outcomes of that gene
dbd process
DbD Process

Phase 1: DNA sequencing for a product line

Phase 2: Using the genome to design a new product in that line

product dna sequencing
Product DNA Sequencing
  • Must find the genetic structure for a product before we can use it
    • use DNA sequencing/gene mapping
    • analysis of existing artifacts of a specified type and creation of the “genome” of that artifact type
  • Ideally, we’d want to map out the genome for every product
    • IE: pen, kettle, bicycle, etc
a first step towards dna
A First Step Towards DNA
  • Analyze a sample group of some existing product, in order to break it down into its DNA analogous components (genes)
    • Effectively; data mining
    • Stats, product history, marketing, media, etc
  • Must take into account that the genes are context dependent
    • ie: genes for the structure of a house will not be the same in different regions (Nunavut vs. Florida)
    • Mobile phone charger
creating genes
Creating Genes
  • Once the characteristic genes for an artefact are identified and classified, they have to be made into usable forms
  • Each gene will be expressed through use of a pattern
    • a pattern describes a process, method, or activities related to creating the artefact which they describe
  • Each gene has genetic options
    • Gene for exterior cladding may have options for: brick, stucco, vinyl siding, etc
  • Each option contains performance characteristics
    • The stucco gene option has information on things like: lifetime, wear, thermal resistivity, air penetration rating, carbon footprint, etc
  • The gene pattern shows a designer how/when/where to use that gene/gene option
  • Gene patterns include a measure of sustainability
  • The patterns are linked via a pattern language
an artificial genome
An Artificial Genome
  • A collection of gene patterns is analogous to a genome for an organism.
    • One or more genes can define a chromosome
    • One or more chromosomes defines a full genome
  • This collection of artificial genetic information is the ‘artificial genome’.
  • The genome then contains enough information to reproduce an artefact, given certain contextual parameters
    • Contextual parameters are usually in the customer requirements
    • These define what expectations and conditions an artefact must meet
    • Require the role of the designer
how do we use dbd
How do we use DbD?
  • Similar or same opening steps as other methods
  • Problem analysis
    • usage scenario
    • situation brainstorming
    • product requirements specification
    • requirements validation/voice of the customer
  • System architecture
    • System/subsystem identification
    • System diagram
    • interface specs
    • product architecture specs
    • system validation
how do we use dbd cont d
How do we use DbD? – cont’d
  • Concept design
    • Ideation
    • Generation
    • Evaluation
    • Selection
    • Refinement
    • Product concept specification
    • Concept validation
ideation 1
Ideation - 1
  • For each chromosome (subsystem) in the genome (system), there exists a set of genes (sub-subsystems or parts)
  • For each gene, there exists a set of known and/or commonly found gene options (embodiments)
    • As with biology, there could be options we haven’t discovered yet or that haven’t been applied to this product
  • We wish to pick the most suitable gene option for our given requirements and environment
ideation 2
Ideation - 2
  • For each identified gene:
    • Observe the gene options
    • Assess how each option interacts and performs with the given requirements and contextual environment
    • Given the above, choose the best option for that gene
    • A rating scheme is useful to help make your choice
      • Rate options against the input variables (req’s/env.)
  • Repeat for all genes of the product
ideation 3
Ideation - 3
  • Innovation and novelty can occur at this point
    • Inter-breeding of gene options from similar genes in other products
    • Mutation of genes into new forms (changing a gene changes its functions/characteristics)
      • Incandescent bulbs to CFL’s
  • Pen example
    • What is the function of a pen?
    • To create a contrast on a given medium which is distinguishable to the human eye
    • Currently: mechanical movement of a nib
    • Doesn’t a printer have the same function? And a monitor?
    • Inter-breeding of pen with printer = new concept!
ideation 4
Ideation - 4
  • Given your choices of gene options:
    • Assess how your gene choices within a chromosome interact with each other (refer to your PAS)
  • Interactions within chromosomes may affect your choices for genes
    • Re-evaluate your choices for genes given your assessment on the interactions
    • Sometimes, picking the optimal option within a gene does not work out within a chromosome
concept generation 1
Concept Generation - 1
  • Assemble the chromosomes together to create a full system concept
    • Aka: combining ideas/embodiments to form concepts
  • Each new combination of your chromosomes is a new system concept
    • It is possible that the exact same chromosomes may interact in different ways (given your PAS) to give rise to new concepts
  • Try some concepts that involve the inter-breeding or mutation from your ideation
evaluation 1
Evaluation - 1
  • Rank concepts to determine relative merits
    • Using something like a weighted decision matrix
evaluation 2
Evaluation - 2
  • Possible to encode evaluation criteria inside the genes
    • Allows dynamic ideation evaluation
    • Shows evaluation for every possible gene combination
    • Allows computer-aided ideation
      • Gives designers more time to innovate!
refinement 1
Refinement - 1
  • Given evaluations, refine some concepts
    • Similar or the same as other methods
    • Add entirely new concepts
    • Take top performers and refine the weaker points
    • Take weak performers and consider the best points
    • Combine 2 or more concepts to create a better one
  • Discard poor designs
  • Re-evaluate remaining concepts
  • May take more than 1 iteration of refinement
concept winner
Concept Winner
  • After x iterations of refinement, pick a clear winner
  • Validate the winning concept against your:
    • Product requirements
    • System architecture
    • Usually requires presenting the design to the customer for approval
kettle example
Kettle Example
  • Containment system
  • Heating system
  • Control system
    • On/off
    • Safety off
extra dna

DNA is the inherited genetic material within an organism. Each gene is then a segment of its DNA. The genes are the chemical units that initiate the processes of organism development and growth, that determine the organism's characteristics and the characteristics that are inherited in a successive generations, and also regulate most of the activities which take place throughout the organism's lifetime.Genes ultimately influence all aspects of an organism's structure and function. Each chromosome contains 1 or more genes that describe the functional (and sometimes physical) characteristics of the entity.

Gene characteristics can be classified as one of two different types; namely, genotypes and phenotypes. A basic definition is as follows: genotype refers to the structural composition of specific genes, whereas phenotype refers to the outward appearance of an individual, which results from both the genotype and the influence of the environment. A genotype does not result in a phenotype unless the genotype is expressed. Gene expression refers to the biochemical processes that result in an observable physical, structural, or behavioural effect in the individual. A dormant (non-expressed) gene has no impact on the individual, and its genotype can only be established via DNA profiling. Dormant genotypes can be activated by environmental effects. For example, some humans have a genetic predisposition to developing cancer; this means they have a genotype that is common to victims of cancer, but the genotype will only be triggered if subjected to some external effect – such as smoking cigarettes. Therefore, the 'form' of the DNA remains constant, though the expression of it may change from one manifestation to the next or through some trigger event.

extra processes
EXTRA: Processes

Evolution: Given a population of organisms, evolution proceeds based on two oppositional processes: mutation and interbreeding, which increases genetic diversity; and natural selection, which decreases genetic diversity. Mutation and interbreeding cause new variations in genes, which render as new physical characteristics (example: a longer neck). These characteristics manifest as new behaviours of organisms in successive generations to react to their environment (example: an ability to eat leaves from high tree branches). Natural selection is the impact that those behaviours have on the ability of the organisms to reproduce; this is usually interpreted as organisms living long enough to reproduce, but can also include time for offspring to mature, quantity of offspring per reproductive cycle, and other characteristics. If a given genetic change induces a characteristic that leads to a behaviour in a given environment that allows an organism to survive and/or reproduce better/faster, then over time that genetic change will become dominant in the overall population. For example, the long necks of giraffes lets them eat leaves of tall trees, that are inaccessible to other, short-necked herbivores, thus increasing the giraffe’s ability to access food compared to other animals. Natural Selection: Natural selection, as first coined by Charles Darwin, is a process by which characteristics that increase the likelihood of an organism's survival and successful reproduction in an environment become more commonplace within a population over successive generations. As an example, an increase in humankind's cognitive ability has allowed us to thrive as a species and thus natural selection over many generations of humans has seen an increase in our overall cognitive capacity, as compared to much earlier generations. A more straightforward example is the giraffe's neck, which evolved to give the giraffe the ability to reach vegetation no other footed animal could reach, thereby increasing its ability to survive.

Mutation: A mutation is a permanent change to the underlying genetic structure of an organism. Mutations can be beneficial or harmful, depending on whether it affects the organism's survival (per natural selection) positively or negatively. Mutations can be spontaneous or induced. A spontaneous mutation occurs as the result of a variation in the chemical processes of genetics, such as molecular decay occurring spontaneously during the life of an individual?. An induced mutation occurs in response to an external stimulus or phenomenon, such as exposure to nuclear radiation, prolonged change in nutritional intake, or an intended alteration by a designer.