Advertisement

Fraunhofer

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 go.

Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
In 2013, Norway's Lade AS unveiled designs for Vindskip, a "hybrid" merchant ship which aims to harness the wind courtesy of a specially-shaped hull, in the process taking the burden off of its natural-gas powered engines and saving fuel. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute's Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) have been working to help realize this goal by developing an algorithm that will allow the Vindskip's navigation system to use the combination of power and sail at its most economical. Read More

Although it may be handy to have sensors in your windows that remind you if you've left them open, running electrical wiring to all those sensors (or regularly changing their batteries) could be a hassle. A new window-monitoring radio sensor chip, however, gets all the power it needs from the sun. Read More

There's nothing quite as refreshing as a glass of beer on a hot day and nothing more disgusting than discovering that the beer has gone off in the bottle, leaving a sour, cloudy mess. To save innocent palates and Sunday barbecues, the Fraunhofer Institute is developing a new polymer powder that can quickly detect pathogens in beer before they can ruin the brew. Read More
Built in East Germany, the Trabant 601 was notorious for its many faults – not the least of which was a body made out of Duroplast, a hard plastic made of cotton waste and phenol resins that led those in the West to describe the car as being made of cardboard. However, it now looks as if the Trabant is getting the last laugh as scientists look at ways of making cars out of cotton and other botanical fibers formed into a new class of hybrid composites. Read More
Advertisement