Fraunhofer Society research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Fast charging electric bus does overtime – June 6, 2015
- Small and discreet data glasses for everyday use – June 4, 2015
- Cost-effective production of magnetic sensors – April 12, 2015
- Encryption for everyone – April 9, 2015
- Reducing energy usage with nano-coatings – April 9, 2015
- Ensuring security for networks of the future – March 1, 2015
- The Biobattery – February 28, 2015
- Vehicle body made from cotton, hemp, and wood – February 3, 2015
- Electric cars without drivers – November 14, 2014
- World’s first emotion detection app on Google Glass – August 28, 2014
- Razor-sharp TV pictures – August 25, 2014
- Sensors that improve rail transport safety – August 7, 2014
- Charging electric cars efficiently via electromagnetic induction – August 1, 2014
- Linking television and the Internet – July 28, 2014
- Efficient thermal cooling and heating for components – July 14, 2014
- Managing the biology lab data jungle – July 2, 2014
- A fuel cell system for the average home – June 4, 2014
- Replacement for Animal Testing? Artificial lung the size of a sugar cube – May 29, 2014
- Circuits and sensors direct from the printer – May 22, 2014
- High-efficiency water treatment using light using a novel UV-light system | UV-light water treatment system – May 10, 2014
- Cartilage Breakthrough: Collagen for the knee – April 29, 2014
- Recovering valuable substances from wastewater | German Phosphorus Platform
- Rapid materials testing in 3D
- Real-time simulation of textiles
- Self-powered wireless light detectors
- Faster testing of new pharmaceuticals
- Car manufacturing – fast track towards mass production
- Better first response medical care during catastrophes
- Computers can covertly communicate via audio signals | audio botnet
- Fraunhofer and Continental come together when the dandelion rubber meets the road
- Thermoelectric materials nearing production scale
- Solar cells utilize thermal radiation
- Warning system for all crisis situations
- Special camera detects tumors
- Sewer sensors sniff out signs of bombs and drugs
- Organic lights and solar cells straight from the printer
- Nano-dwarves turn tumor assassins
- Intercepting asteroids to avoid Armageddon
- Need different types of tissue? Just print them!
- World Record: Wireless Data Transmission at 100 Gb/s
- World Record Solar Cell with 44.7% Efficiency
- Broadcast Power for Table Lamps and Other Devices
- Soccer matches and concerts from any angle you choose
- Augmented Reality App Guides Surgeons During Tumor Removal
- Saws made of carbon
- Inspecting Cables of all Sizes with the FluxCrawler Robot
- Underwater propulsion from a 3D printer
- Three-wheeled e-scooter offers added stability, but still leans into turns
- Greater convenience and safety for wheelchair users
- Prefab houses that are glued, not nailed, together
- Small and medium-sized companies sharing fleets of electric vehicles
- New Synthetic Material mimics the brightest and most vivid colours in nature and changes colour
- CurvACE gives robots a bug’s eye view
- New World Record in Wireless Data Transmission
- Glove shows its true colors
- A Solution For Clean Energy On A 24/7 Basis
- Printed Thermoelectric Generators Harvest Unused Energy
- New compact radar has huge potential
- Breakthrough in electricity storage: New large and powerful redox flow battery
- Seaweed Insulation
- New opportunities for 3D technology in medicine
- Lynx autonomous indoor vehicle promises materials handling boost
- Giant tobacco plants that stay young forever
- Romper suit to protect against sudden infant death
- Machines with built-in copy protection against counterfeit parts
- Distributed Energy Storage is the Game Changer, and Renewables Drive the Economic Case
- Keeping ship hulls free of marine organisms
- Implant Could Warn About Dementia
- Kite power starting to fly in Germany
- Wood completely broken down into its component parts to replace crude oil
- Better and cheaper pipes for water desalination
- Using less gas and oil to get where you’re going
- The Seeds That Federal Money Can Plant
- Using Lightning to Recycle Concrete?
- ebuggy concept promises “unlimited range” for EVs
- A smart fabric sets off the alarm
- Measuring glucose without needle pricks
- Turning ideas into products faster
- Wireless window sentinel
- Minimally invasive building renovation
- Cost-effective production of infrared lenses
- Using wastewater as fertilizer
- Smart wireless power outlets
- Keeping electric vehicle batteries cool
- Insect-inspired smartphone projector focuses images onto uneven surfaces
- What’s for dinner? Just check the spectrometer
- Mini-Projector for Smartphones
- Flying 3-D Eye-Bots
- Power without the cord
- Listening to the radio even with an electric drive
- Swarming and Transporting: Ant Behavior Helps Robotic Systems
- Artificial valve for treating a common circulatory problem
- Environmentally Friendly Cleaning and Washing
- Vegetarian Cutlet: New Method to Prepare a Meat Substitute
- Pilot plant converts fruit and veggie waste into natural gas for cars
- LED-based sky ceiling recreates natural lighting conditions indoors
- Wireless window contacts — no maintenance, no batteries
- Direct eye contact video conferencing to be commercialised
- Plasma-filled bags could replace the Petri dish
- Zero Touch Energy Audit
- A Living Factory?
- Jumping spiderbot made using 3D printing technique
- Singularity Summit: Quest for Immortality Never Dies
- BizzTrust for Android splits a single smartphone into two virtual phones
- Laser polishing machine could put hand buffers out of work
- Machine automatically cultivates cell cultures
- New tech makes four-camera 3D shooting possible
- Ultrasound thermography used to find flaws in wood
- Data Traveling by Light
- RFID-based cashless car-parking system developed
- Redesigning Solar Power
- Saving Fuel While Plowing
- Ship-based system designed to harness energy from waves
- Cheaper vehicle sensory system developed
- Solar Inverters: Losses Are Cut in Half
- Cyber Attack Risk on Car Computers
- Giant Batteries for Green Power
- Inexpensive plastic developed that indicates freshness of food
- Mobile With Electricity
- Bandage with integrated sensors to monitor the healing of injured knees
- Self-healing elastic polymers developed with the help of a tree
- Lasers create custom medical devices, and make suturing easier
- Fujitsu shows off wireless PC display at CeBIT
- Low-cost touchscreens made with carbon nanotubes
- Better sewage treatment is the latest thing in clean energy
- Interactive shop window displays in the works
- New Building Material Offers New Design Options
- CO2 could be used in ‘green’ plastic production
- Lupin seeds used to create low-fat meat protein alternatives
- Which Methods of Heating Are Most Efficient?
- Phase change materials for the perfect cup of coffee
- Credit card-sized diagnostic platform provides fast sepsis test
- Power Grid of the Future Saves Energy
- Bacteria to Test Water Lines
- Eyes, ears and brains being developed for underwater robots
- Conserving Resources: Producing Circuit Boards With Plasma
- IPoint 3D: Using Your Fingers As A Remote Control
- Color changing dressing to indicate infections
- Miniature implant monitors cardiac pressure
- New lacquer-based antibacterial active film keeps food fresher, longer
- Titanium foam bone replacements on the way
- Universal app platform in the works
- Catering To Car Buyers’ Desires
- Hydrogen Causes Metal to Break
- New thermoplastic fiber composite material to build safer cars
- 3-D Gesture-Based Interaction System Unveiled
- Charging Up Electric Car Batteries in Environmentally-Friendly Way
- Long-wave infrared driving cameras on the way
- Synthetic cornea offers hope to thousands
- Electric Drive Concepts for the Cars of the Future
- Record achieved with low-cost solar cells
- Plant-based vaccine factory enables production in just weeks
- Storing surplus green energy as natural gas
- Putting electric motors into the wheels of cars is the way forward
- Breakthrough for Mobile Television
- Flow Batteries
- EVs to get improved mileage from redox flow batteries
- OpenRide mobile service organizes carpooling on-the-fly
- Inexpensive Thin Printable Batteries Developed
- Drinking Water From Air Humidity
- Automated ‘Intelligent’ Houses Help Elderly Stay In Homes Longer
It employs around 22,093 people, mainly scientists and engineers, with an annual research budget of about €1.65 billion. Some basic funding for the Fraunhofer Society is provided by the state (the German public, through the federal government together with the states or Länder, “owns” the Fraunhofer Society), but more than 70% of the funding is earned through contract work, either for government sponsored projects or from industry.
It is named after Joseph von Fraunhofer who, as a scientist, an engineer, and an entrepreneur, is said to have superbly exemplified the goals of the society.
The organization has seven centers in the United States, under the name “Fraunhofer USA”, and three in Asia. In October 2010, Fraunhofer announced that it would open its first research center in South America.
Poorly maintained air conditioning systems cause mold or other bacteria to spread; they often also generate drafts and are costly to operate. An alternative technology that uses ceiling panels covered in special heat-conducting film operates well below the dew point. Designed by Fraunhofer researchers, the system offers hygienic cooling even in tropical climates, and uses up to 70 percent less energy.
The multifunctional system will be launched at the BAU trade fair from January 16-21, 2017 as part of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance’s special show, “Fraunhofer CityLaboratory – creating living spaces” (Hall C2, Booth 538).
Ceiling panels covered in special heat-conducting film function well below the dew point, and use up to 70 percent less energy.
The modular ceiling system can be used to cool, heat, illuminate, and simultaneously improve the acoustic properties of internal spaces and open areas.
Interpanel GmbH, a spin-off company established by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, plans to start selling the multifunctional cooling and heating system in mid-2017.
There is not a breath of wind outside, while inside the air conditioning is running at full blast. Cooling and heating account for some 32 percent of global energy consumption, and some 30 percent of CO2 emissions. Climate change is driving an increase in cooling requirements – and a related health risk: if air conditioning systems are not properly maintained, mold develops inside the equipment and in air ducts. This affects people’s immune systems just as drafts can. Europe is seeing the spread of a healthier, more efficient form of air conditioning: active systems that are built into ceilings, walls, and floors. Like the radiators in a central heating system, they have (cold) water flowing through them. Such climate control components quickly reach their operating limits, however: if cooled surfaces reach the dew point, condensation forms on them – just like it does on a glass of cold lemonade.
Comfortable temperatures with minimal energy consumption
Researchers at Fraunhofer IBP have developed innovative technology that prevents condensation: a special heat-conducting polymer film. When applied to multifunctional ceiling panels, it has the same effect as insulating glass and allows the panels to function well below the dew point without condensation forming. “Our system is unique in the world,” says Alexander Buff, a scientist at Fraunhofer IBP in Rosenheim. The concept was funded by the Fraunhofer Venture Group (see link below), and a patent is pending. Now a team of six, the scientists have been awarded level I EXIST start-up research funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy. The team’s Clear Sky Cooling project is currently being spun off from Fraunhofer under the name Interpanel GmbH, with Alexander Buff as its CEO, and the multifunctional cooling and heating system will be available from mid-2017.
Multifunctional, upgradable modules
What makes the technology special is that it avoids the problem of the dew point, and it is multifunctional. Around two square meters in size, the modules can be combined flexibly. As efficient LED lighting panels, they save energy. With its acoustic activation, the system simplifies interface planning. High-density modularity reduces the system’s overall size and saves on installation time. Sheets of film are individually printable and easy to replace. The long-lasting modules can be taken down and re-installed elsewhere.
Ceilings fitted with the system achieve much the same refreshing effect as a starry sky on a warm summer night: once the sun goes down, the air feels pleasantly cool because the clear, cold night sky draws away the heat, causing an instant drop in perceived temperature. The ceiling panels work according to the same physical principle: their cooled surfaces absorb the heat given off by people in a process that is direct, noiseless, and free of drafts. Ceiling panels can be cooled at the push of a button or by means of a motion sensor, and in around three minutes they generate a pleasant ambient climate in the room beneath them – as beneath a cool night sky. Because it circumvents the problem of the dew point, the system can also be used in open spaces such as industrial workplaces or open-plan offices. Instead of causing cold air to swirl around in a space, the panels absorb the naturally radiated heat only where comfort is needed. Such zonal usability makes Clear Sky Cooling particularly energy-efficient. It is especially suited for use in health-related environments such as hospitals, physiotherapy centers, and fitness studios, as well as in open-plan offices, conference centers, and manufacturing facilities. The system works independently of surrounding drafts and humidity, and so its operation is nearly safe and maintenance-free.
Learn more: Ceiling panel cools regardless of climate
Physicians have long used visual judgment of medical images to determine the course of cancer treatment. A new program package from Fraunhofer researchers reveals changes in images and facilitates this task using deep learning.
The experts will demonstrate this software in Chicago from November 27 to December 2 at RSNA, the world’s largest radiology meeting.
Has a tumor shrunk during the course of treatment over several months, or have new tumors developed? To answer questions like these, physicians often perform CT and MRI scans. Tumors are usually evaluated only visually, and new tumors are often over-
looked. “Our program package increases confidence during tumor measurement and follow-up,” explains Mark Schenk from the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS in Bremen, Germany. “The software can, for example, determine how the volume of a tumor changes over time and supports the detection of new tumors.” The package consists of modular processing components and can help medical technology manufacturers automate progress monitoring.
The computer learns on its own
The package is unique in its use of deep learning, a new type of machine learning that reaches far beyond existing approaches. This method is helpful for image segmentation, during which experts designate exact organ outlines. Existing computer segmentation programs seek clearly defined image features such as certain gray values. “How-
ever, this can often lead to errors,” according to Fraunhofer researcher Markus Harz. “The software assigns areas to the liver that do not belong to the organ.” These errors must be corrected by physicians, a process which can often be quite time-consuming.
The new deep learning approaches promise improved results and should save physicians valuable time. To demonstrate their self-learning methods, Fraunhofer scientists trained the software with CT liver images from 149 patients. Results showed that the more data the program analyzed, the better it could automatically identify liver contours.
Finding hidden metastases
A further application of the approach is image registration, in which software aligns images from different patient visits so that physicians can easily compare them. Machine learning can aid the particularly difficult task of locating bone metastases in the torso in which hip bones, ribs, and spine are visible. Currently, these metastases are often overlooked due to time constraints in clinical practice. Deep learning methods can help reliably discover metastases and thus improve treatment outcomes.
Researchers focus on a combination of classical approaches and machine learning: “We wish to harness existing expertise to implement deep learning as effectively and reliably as possible,” stresses Harz. Fraunhofer MEVIS builds upon years of experience in practical application: for example, the algorithms for highly precise lung image registration have been integrated into several commercial medical software applications.
Learn more: Machine learning to help physicians
Fraunhofer researchers have developed a process for the manufacturing of high-quality plastics from terpenes, a waste stream of the cellulose production. They will present their new bioplastic and its possible applications from October 19 – 26 at the K 2016 trade fair in Düsseldorf. Visitors can find the joint Fraunhofer booth in Hall 7, Booth SC01.
Even if fossil resources got much cheaper in the last years there are big efforts to replace standard plastics by substances made from renewable resources. A reduced consump-
tion of fossil resources is especially important because of the climate change caused by the release of carbon dioxide. Apart from the production of biodegradable polymers, for example for packaging applications, there is a big interest in high performance materials made from renewable resources.
The synthesis of polyamides from terpenes was developed at BioCat – Bio, Electro and Chemocataysis, the Straubing branch of Fraunhofer IGB. BioCat, headed by Professor Volker Sieber works on techniques for converting terpenes – a side stream of the cellulose production from wood – into biosurfactants, biobased epoxides or monomers for biobased polyamides with new properties (see also the boxes “What are terpenes?” and “Polyamides made of 3-carene”). “Because of the special chemical structure of terpenes, polyamides from 3-carene based lactams are highly transparent,” explains project manager Dr. Harald Strittmatter. ”This gives the possibility of new applications, like ski goggles or visors of helmets.” It will be possible to manufacture products like coatings, textiles and adhesives from the biobased polyamides.
Enzymes and harmless reagents instead of toxic chemicals
Why are the Fraunhofer researchers working with terpenes? “It’s a renewable resource that is generated in large quantities as a side stream of the pulp production as well as in the fruit industry. As a waste stream the application of terpenes for the production of new bio-plastics is in no conflict with the need of food production for humans and animals” explains Dr. Strittmatter. Today big amounts of the terpenes available are not used as a valuable biobased raw material but incinerated for the energy supply of the pulp mills. Because of the complex structure of the terpenes, a much higher value application is desirable. ”Similar compounds are only accessible from fossil resources with great effort,” Dr. Strittmatter says. The structure of terpenes allows polyamides with special characteristics, such as high transparency. For the synthesis of polyamides, terpenes have to be modified. By an oxidation step, a so called carbonyl group is introduced, which can be converted into a lactam, a monomer building block of polyamides. The benefits of the process: The synthetic route for the production of terpene-based lactams is shorter and – even more important – combines bio- and chemocatalytic reaction steps which allow avoidance of harmful reagents.
Up to now, these biobased plastics have been manufactured only in the laboratory; although the plan is to develop a synthetic route which allows a future production in industrial scale. However, Dr. Strittmatter and his team intend to make a contribution to the replacement of fossil based chemicals with renewable resources.
When science fiction heroes communicate, they don‘t use landlines or cell phones. The caller simply appears in virtual form in the middle of the room; full sized and three dimensional. For researchers at Fraunhofer, this vision is already within reach: At the trade fairs IFA in Berlin (Hall 11.1, Booth 3) and IBC in Amsterdam (Hall 8, Booth 8.B80) they will show a new technology technology called “3D Human Body Reconstruction”.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI in Berlin have developed a method by which the realistic image of a person can be transmitted in a virtual world; and just like in science fiction movies, the image appears full sized and three dimensional. The image can be viewed from different directions and the viewer can even walk around it – just like in the movie. Until now, this was not possible; even virtual reality (VR) still has its limits. People can be represented by artificial three-dimensional models (so-called avatars) that can be seen when the viewer puts on VR data goggles. Nevertheless, these artificial figures do not have a lifelike appearance or natural movement. Another option is to play the video image of a person in frontal view in the VR data goggles. However, the viewer cannot walk around the image. As a result, the whole scene looks artificial as one moves through the virtual world. The person always turns his two-dimensional front to the viewer.
20 stereo cameras
In contrast, the HHI researchers have perfected the three-dimensional impression. To do so, they have developed a camera system that films the person. The core of this system is a stereo camera: Just as people do with their two eyes, the camera records the person with two lenses. This stereoscopic vision results in distances being estimated well, because both eyes look at an object from a slightly different angle. The result is a three-dimensional impression. Recording a person in detail from all directions takes more than one camera. “We are currently using more than 20 stereo cameras to map a human,” says Oliver Schreer, Head of the Research Group “Immersive Media & Communication” at HHI. Each camera only captures a part of the person. The challenge is to merge the individual camera images together so that a realistic overall picture is produced.
The system includes more than just the camera technology. The researchers have developed algorithms that can quickly extract depth information from the stereoscopic camera images. This is necessary in order to calculate the 3D form of a captured person. The computer calculates a virtual model of the human, which is then transferred into the virtual scene. The cameras perceive the surface shape with many details. In this way even small wrinkles, e.g. on the clothes of the person, can be shown. The model has a natural and realistic appearance.
“In developing these algorithms, special care has been taken to ensure they work efficiently and fast, so the movements of dialogue partners can very quickly be converted into a dynamic model,” Schreer says, since this is the only way that the movements will look natural. The images from a single camera pair can be processed in real time.
Showing every gesture
The fusing of the 3D information from the various camera images takes a few seconds. The illusion has already been perfected, though. The system transmits the three-dimensional dynamic model of a person rapidly in virtual reality. A person can move freely in a dedicated capture area. The virtual image portrays every gesture and movement realistically. “Our goal is that in the future a realistic image copy of a human is able to directly interact with the virtual world – for example, to let it grab virtual objects,” says Schreer.
In the future, the new camera system is planned to be used for other application fields too. For example, the researchers work on a virtual video conferencing application. It could as well be used for infotainment applications. Instead of a passive, frontal viewing experience, a television viewer could be directly involved in a movie scene by means of VR goggles. The viewer would not only see a three-dimensional image of the scene on the television, but could virtually walk around inside it, and, for example be a part of the adventures of his science fiction heroes.
An alternative to motion tracking
“We can also imagine installing the camera system at different locations in small studios,” says Schreer. “Film producers could use it to transfer the movement of actors into scenes more easily than ever before.” That has been very costly so far. In general, the actor’s movements are recorded using the motion tracking method. As part of this process, the face and body of the actor are marked with small dots. The computer tracks the movement of the points and transfers it to the computer-generated artificial image of the actor – for example, an action star jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper. However, with individual marker points, motion tracking methods can only detect movements and, especially, fine facial expressions very inaccurately or with very high technical effort. That means a lot of post processing for the computer-graphic artists until the scene looks more realistic. “With our camera system, however, our goal is to break down and represent a person and it’s movement in the future with much more details,” says Schreer.
The researchers are currently improving their camera system and the accompanying analysis software. Whether they will make both of these available as a service or license them out to production companies is not yet known.
Learn more: Beam me up to the video conference
South America is fighting a battle against tiger mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever, dengue fever and the Zika virus. In Central Europe, wine and fruit growers fear another year of massive crop failures due to a type of vinegar fly known as the spotted-wing drosophila. Since the success rate of conventional methods continues to fall, researchers from Fraunhofer and the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen are developing new species-specific strategies that keep pests under control without resorting to environmental toxins.
When Prof. Marc F. Schetelig takes visitors through his laboratories at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Gießen, one of the things he shows them is a climate chamber that is kept at a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Inside are thousands of tiger mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) in net cages. “We have to keep the females on a diet of cow’s or pig’s blood, served at 37 degrees Celsius, which we get directly from the abattoir,” says Schetelig. “This helps them lay their eggs, which we then put in bowls of water, where the larvae hatch and pupate.”
Schetelig is an expert on the sterile insect technique, or SIT, in which the mass release of sterile males decimates the population of insect pests (see box). With his team of researchers at the LOEWE Center for Insect Biotechnology & Bioresources, which is sponsored by the German state of Hesse, Schetelig is developing methods that increase the effectiveness of the sterile insect technique and allow it to be transferred to other insect pests.
A genetic on and off switch
Schetelig’s highest achievement to date has been his work on the spotted-wing drosophila vinegar fly, Drosophila suzukii, which comes from Southeast Asia and is spreading worldwide. The females lay their eggs in ripe fruit just before the harvest, when the farmers are generally no longer allowed to spray insecticide. This means that the fly can evade even efficient insecticides and at present, an effective control strategy is not on the market. In 2014, the spotted-wing drosophila caused massive crop failures to cherries, raspberries, plums and grapes in many parts of Central Europe. Mass propagation of the insects was feared for 2015, but was derailed by the hot, dry summer. This year, the wet early summer weather could once again provide the ideal conditions for a further spread.
Schetelig has designed a genetic system that causes the flies’ offspring to not survive beyond the embryonic stage. If male flies carrying this system mate with naturally occurring females, the fertilized eggs will not produce larvae. But the genetic system also includes a switch that can be used to turn the program off. This switch can be activated by feeding the flies the antibiotic tetracycline: the tetracycline containing diet allows the flies to be successfully rearing in the laboratory. “The new method doesn‘t require antibiotics for larval rearing and only a little amount of antibiotics is needed for the adult flies. So no antibiotics are transferred to the environment,” says Schetelig.
To help with mass breeding, the research team anchored yet another genetic system within the genome that can cause all females to die at the embryonic stage. “With this sexing system, we can considerably improve the effectiveness of mass breeding, because we raise only the males. Females need to be sorted out,” explains Schetelig. In the majority of conventional breeding methods, the females needed to be weeded out, sometimes manually, before a mass release.
Curbing dengue and Zika viruses
The team is currently working on transferring the genetic systems it developed for the spotted-wing drosophila to the tiger mosquito. It is hoped that this use of the sterile insect technique will help stop the tiger mosquito from continuing to spread a number of dangerous viruses. In addition to the dengue and Zika viruses, the tiger mosquito can also carry the viruses for yellow fever, Chikungunya and Rift Valley fever. Despite being indigenous to the tropics, this insect spread across the world. A related Aedes species has already established itself in Italy. And the first case of tiger mosquitoes surviving the German winter and hatching has been reported near Freiburg im Breisgau.
In addition to his high hopes in the new technology, Schetelig is also looking into the risks of releasing transgenic insects. As part of a project funded by the German Research Foundation DFG through the Emmy Noether Programme, he is examining for example how stable the integration of foreign genes into genomes really is and what happens when other animals eat the genetically modified insects.
“Since we use radioactive radiation to sterilize the males before their release, we are convinced that they will not multiply,” says Schetelig. He expects the technology will most likely find large-scale application in countries that already have regulations for the release of genetically modified organisms in place, such as in South America and to some extent in the United States. “The decisive factor in terms of acceptance is the level of threat posed by the pests,” Schetelig says. “If we had the same problems with dengue fever and Zika virus in Germany as they have in Brazil, we would also be searching for and evaluating different solutions. And the sterile insect technique with transgenic mosquitoes would definitely be part of the discussion.”
In disasters, rescuers usually communicate via satellite if phone and mobile telecommunication is out. But that has drawbacks: Once the data lines are overloaded, the connection disconnects. In addition, there barely are systems available yet for moving vehicles. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new antenna system which reliably transmits data via satellite with a high-bandwidth and which is suitable for mobile use.
Natural disasters regularly strike the world. As in the case of the tsunami in Japan or the earthquake in Nepal, electricity and telephone lines are destroyed in this process as well. Usually, mobile communications fail over a large area because the poles are damaged. That is why during disasters, rescue services turn to their own communications technology – mostly over satellite systems. Data or phone calls are sent directly to a satellite in space and, from there, to receiving stations on Earth. As a result, the rescue workers are not dependent on the communications infrastructure on the ground.
Until recently, satellite communication has had its disadvantages. The setting up of a small satellite station in the field takes some time for example. Once built, it cannot be easily moved. Moreover, the connection breaks off when a lot of data has to be transmitted or when a thunderstorm interferes. The satellite antenna has to be aligned very precisely to the satellite – just like in the case of television. It is now virtually impossible to communicate with broadband in a moving car via satellite, since the antenna constantly moves out of focus due to the movement of the vehicle.
In the joint project KASYMOSA (Ka-band systems for mobile satellite communications), several research institutions have developed a number of technologies to make satellite communications fit for mobile use. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen is involved with three working groups. For mobile communications, researchers have to overcome several hurdles. The first issue is to shift and position the satellite antenna on a moving car quickly enough so that it always keeps the satellites in view. This involves high precision: it can only move by a maximum of 0.2 degrees from the focus of the satellite. Even just getting into a car moves it more, though. The partners have therefore developed algorithms for a mechanism which can move the antenna precisely and quickly. They control the movement of the antenna precisely so that it compensates for a change in direction within fractions of a second.
Digital radio makes spherics and crackling interference in radio broadcast a thing of the past. New technologies from Fraunhofer IIS make it possible for digital radio to replace analogue short and medium wave broadcasting around the world. Even local FM transmissions are being converted to digital. As a result, Digital radio listeners benefit from clear reception, a wider range of programming, and additional information via data services without having to pay for a costly Internet connection.
Alexander Zink, researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS based in Erlangen, Germany, would like to provide clarification around a common misunderstanding: »Digital radio works the same way as terrestrial FM radio via air waves, but with better quality, more variety and innovative extra features. Digital Radio is independent of the Internet and available to the listener free of charge.« Together with Martin Speitel, Max Neuendorf and an extensive team, Zink developed several necessary basic technologies, as well as transmission and receiving solutions for digital radio applications. Today, these technologies are utilized around the world in nearly all digital radio systems.
Digital Radio Already Established Worldwide
Digital radio is already implemented throughout the majority of Europe. Many developing countries are in the planning stage to convert from analog to digital for short and medium wave, and the digitalization of local FM broadcasts is in development as well. For instance, India is among the front-runners for digitalization, and on its way to becoming the world‘s largest digital radio market.
Developing medical devices takes a lot of time: large parts of the control systems can be designed and tested only once the hardware is ready. Using the hardware-in-the-loop method, which Fraunhofer researchers have transferred from automotive engineering to medical products, development times and costs can be slashed by up to 50 percent.
Beat by beat, the heart pumps blood through the arteries. In some people, however, the heart is too weak to supply the body with enough oxygen and nutrients, a condition often referred to as myocardial insufficiency or heart failure. A heart pump implanted in the body can help, although the control system that gives the pump the relevant commands must work very precisely.
When developing medical devices such as heart pumps, engineers usually proceed one step after the next (serial development). They first develop the hardware: in this case, the heart pump. Only much later can they complete development of the control software, combine it with the hardware, and test it manually.
Researchers from the Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are speeding up this drawn-out process. “Using the hardware-in-the-loop method, we reduce both development times and development costs by up to 50 percent,” says Jonathan Schächtele, who is a scientist in the project group.
Silicone is so soft and flexible that it is easily deformed by the pressure of a finger. Researchers at Fraunhofer have recently created sensors made from this flexible material, making it easier to steplessly control devices. At the Hannover Messe, they are presenting a glove that can measure pressure and a steering wheel that lets the driver control music, light and ventilation at the touch of a finger
Multifunction steering wheels are standard in most automobiles today, and these days drivers can easily manipulate the cruise control and stereo without taking their hands of the wheel. However, the buttons are rather inflexible and the driver can often only switch something “on” and “off” or can only choose the “next” or “previous” song. “That is because they are made of rigid materials like hard plastic, metal or ceramics,” explains Dr. Holger Böse, technical and scientific manager of the Center Smart Materials (CeSMa) at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg, Germany. In his work, Böse focuses on smart materials with mechanical features that can be controlled either electrically or magnetically.
Nowadays it is impossible to imagine industry without robots. Safety laser scanners mostly safeguard dangerous areas and protect people from collisions.
Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new, high-frequency radar scanner that cuts through these obstacles.
It can monitor its environment in a 360-degree radius, making it ideal for safety applications wherever people and robots work together.