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Fraunhofer

— Automotive

Nanotube film could heat electric cars without draining their batteries

While some electric cars may have a decent range in places like California, they're not so impressive in locations with frigid winters. That's because their battery is powering not only the motor, but also the cabin heating system. Now, however, engineers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are developing new technology that could keep EV drivers warm, without leaving them stranded.

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— Medical

Implantable pump to regulate fluids in the eye and preserve vision

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.

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— Urban Transport

Fast-charging EDDA electric bus shows promise for regular use

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.

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— Wearables

Fraunhofer tech to allow less conspicuous smartglasses

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.

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— Good Thinking

Apps help deaf cinema-goers hear movies

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.

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— Health & Wellbeing

Sensor-equipped stockings designed to save diabetics' feet

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.

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— Good Thinking

"Smart" facade keeps offices from overheating, without using any electricity

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
— Health & Wellbeing

CareJack vest takes soft (and smart) approach to lifting heavy loads

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
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