When its levels are slightly off-kilter, eye fluid can create pretty big problems for our vision. When blockages occur they can lead to a build up in pressure that destroys the optic nerve and causes blindness, a condition we know as glaucoma. In contrast, a lack of fluid can cause the eye to cave in and stop functioning, a disease known as phthisis bulbi. Currently, little can be done about these irreversible conditions once they take hold, but Fraunhofer researchers have a potential solution in the works by way of a microscopic pump that can be implanted in the eyeball to regulate ocular pressure.
If electric buses are ever going to become a common sight in cities
around the world, then they'll need to be able to operate like their
traditional counterparts. This means no taking long breaks to recharge,
or sacrificing seating space for the storage of huge batteries. While
allowing them to draw power from the road
is one alternative, the European EDDA Bus consortium is working on
another – electric buses that can grab a quick charge at bus stops in
just a few minutes.
Smartglasses, or augmented reality glasses, may have found niches in military and industrial circles, but haven't really caught on with consumers for a number of reasons – a major one being that they're extremely conspicuous. To help rectify this, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) in Jena, Germany, has developed technology that allows for a more unobtrusive design, while also providing improved functionality.
For people with limited hearing, understanding movies or plays can be
challenging – particularly if they don't own a hearing aid. That's why
engineers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technolgy
have developed a system that streams audio from the stage or screen to
the user's earphone-equipped smartphone.
Even if you're not diabetic, you've probably heard that they need to
watch out for problems with their feet. That's because they frequently
lack sensation down there, and therefore don't know when it's time to
shift their weight in order to relieve pressure on specific areas of
their feet. The result can be chronic pressure sores, which can in turn
ultimately lead to toe or foot amputations. While pressure-sensing shoe
inserts are one option, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate
Research claims that its pressure-sensing stockings are a better way to
Office buildings with plate glass windows may provide a nice view for workers, but they're certainly not ideal when it comes to energy-efficiency. Among other things, the sunlight that pours through them can raise the temperature in the office, causing the air conditioning to come on. Now, however, researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology have created a light-blocking facade for such windows that only kicks in when exposed to strong sunlight – and it's powered by that sunlight, too.
Recent government requirements for greater fuel efficiency have led to lighter cars hitting the market, but there's only so much that can be shaved off the body and chassis. To find further weight reductions, a Fraunhofer project group is developing ways of building engine cylinder blocks that are partly plastic.
Being a nurse, construction worker, or grocery stocker is a taxing and potentially risky job. Claiming almost 10 percent of lost days of work in Germany are due to lower back problems, Fraunhofer researchers in conjunction with industry partners are developing CareJack, an orthopedic prosthetic embedded with flexible, smart electronics to ensure those lifting heavy loads don't have to go home early.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a "biobattery" in the form of a highly efficient biogas plant that can turn raw materials like straw, scrap wood and sludge into a variety of useful energy sources including electricity, purified gas and engine oil. The new plant design, currently being put to the test in a prototype plant in Germany, is said to be highly modular and economically viable even at the small scale.
Six and a half years after the previous iteration, the Fraunhofer Institute has released an update to Care-o-bot. The affordable service robot for personal and professional use has been made it more agile, more modular and much more personable , bringing science fiction fantasy a little closer to reality.