Throughout the animal kingdom there are many existing sensory systems with capabilities desired by the human designers of new sensory and computational systems. There are a few basic design principles constantly observed among these natural mechano-, chemo-, and
photo-sensory systems, principles that have been proven by the test of time. Such principles include non-uniform sampling and processing, topological computing, contrast enhancement by localized signal inhibition, graded localized signal processing, spiked signal transmission, and coarse coding, which is the computational transformation of raw data using broadly overlapping filters. These principles are outlined here with references to natural biological sensory systems as well as successful biomimetic sensory systems exploiting these natural design concepts.