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Fraunhofer


— Good Thinking

Audio-monitoring tech keeps announcements audible

Messages announced over train station loudspeakers are notorious for being unintelligible. It can also be difficult to understand announcements made in airports, at conferences, or in any number of other busy public spaces. Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology is trying to do something about it, however. It's developed new audio-enhancement software, which might even find use in smartphones.

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— Medical

Cultured liver cell microreactor might replace animal testing

Finding alternatives to animal testing is an important endeavor. While the practice has been banned in the cosmetic products industry since 2013, it's still a central part of evaluating the effectiveness and dangers of new medication, with researchers usually using laboratory rodents to test out their latest drugs. Now, a team lead by scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology has created a microbioreactor that has the potential to provide medication testing using cultured liver cells rather than animals.

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— Marine

DEDAVE may be the autonomous underwater vehicle for everyone else

The Ford Model T wasn't the first car to ever be commercially available, but it was one of the very first to be mass-produced. This meant that its price could be kept relatively low, allowing for purchase by people who would otherwise have never been able to afford an automobile. Well, the DEDAVE could be to autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) what the Model T was to cars. Created by Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation, it's claimed to be "the world's first autonomous underwater vehicle to be developed from the outset with a view to series production."

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— Automotive

Tiny computers could keep EV batteries from crapping out when one cell dies

Perhaps along with the fact that they don't allow for thousands of miles of travel on a single charge, electric vehicle batteries do have a shortcoming – they're only as good as their weakest cell. That's because all their 100-plus cells are connected in series, meaning that if one of them dies, then the whole battery pack stops working. That could be about to change, however, thanks to research being carried out at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation.

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— Architecture

Self-sufficient floating home to create its own water and energy

Living on a houseboat may seem very romantic, but the day-to-day misery of hauling water from shore and listening to the thump of the generator can soon take the icing off the cupcake. As a glimpse into what could be the future of aquatic living, two Fraunhofer Institutes and their partners are working on a self-sufficient floating home that creates its own water, electricity, and heat without looking like a works barge.

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— Medical

NiLiBoRo robot cuts around corners for safer head surgery

Removing tumors from the inner ear can be a tricky business, with surgeons often having to remove a large amount of bone to safely complete procedures. Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute have created a new tool, likened to a robotic worm, that is designed to revolutionize the process, while lowering the physical impact of the surgery on the patient.

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— Health and Wellbeing

High-tech comb uses plasma to kill lice

As some parents will already know, head lice infestations can be very difficult to treat. Typically a toxic shampoo or lotion has to first be applied to the sufferer's scalp, after which the lice are removed by pulling a specialized comb through their hair. Louse eggs aren't harmed by such shampoos, however, so the treatment needs to be repeated once they've hatched. This means more nasty chemicals, and more discomfort for the child (or adult). That's why researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films have developed an alternative, in the form of a comb that zaps the pests with cold plasma.

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— Medical

Fraunhofer device could be a surgeon's third arm

Being a surgeon is a pretty high-stress job, and relies heavily on surgical assistants for things like setting clamps and holding tools. Researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute are looking to lighten the load a little, by developing a metal hand that lets surgeons more directly control what's happening on the operating table.

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