“Can a facsimile be used instead?”

Copying: Replacing unavailable, expensive, or fragile items with inexpensive copies.

Crash test dummy

The crash test dummy plays an important role in determining the safety of a vehicle in a collision. These dummy’s are modeled on human anatomy with the intention of making the tests as accurate as possible, but even in modern times cadavers are sometimes used when the true impact on human anatomy is not well know.

In either case, this avoids testing on live humans, which in my case means unavailable, expensive and fragile!


The original scarecrow was an anthropomorphic decoy intended to scare birds from crops.

Fake tanks (check out the Wiki article, it’s fascinating) and other military installations made of wood have been used to fool surveillance into assuming an attack was imminent in the wrong location, or that an area was better fortified than it really was.

Airports will use hawk sounds to scare off birds to reduce the likelihood of strikes with aircraft.

In each case, the essence of the items is evoked without the investment in the actual item. The physical item has been copied.

Like being there

Video conferencing lets us attend a meeting or conference without the time and expense devoted to travel. Virtual reality lets us explore distant or even dangerous locations.

We can review scans rare books, artwork or irreplaceable documents without physical contact.

Imitation jewelry lets us enjoy the bling without the risk of theft or loss of expensive or irreplaceable items.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?

Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin http://vitalykuzmin.net/?q=node/378