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Fraunhofer

Washed up dead seaweed known as Neptune balls is being converted into building insulation ...

If you live near the Mediterranean Sea, you might be familiar with little balls of seaweed that regularly wash up on the beach. These come from the Posidonia oceanica plant (better known as Neptune grass), and are generally thought of as a nuisance. Now, however, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology is involved in a project that’s converting the little balls into high-quality building insulation.  Read More

The biometric “on-card comparison” system compares a signature against one stored on the c...

If you watch a handwriting expert authenticate a signature, they will talk about echoes of the process of signing one's name – darker or lighter lines reveal pressure variations, the shape of the loops reveals the shaking of the hand, and the flow of the ink shows if the signature was laid down without hesitation. These echoes of the act of writing make a signature far more revealing than a simple squiggle on paper. Now researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD) have created a credit card that contains a thorough description of these signature traits, which can be used for instant authentication.  Read More

German researchers have developed a special handle for surgical tools that lights up to wa...

New technology may be ushering in the age of robotic surgery, but there is still a role for cutting-edge electronics to play in augmenting a surgeon's natural talents. The latest example of this comes from Germany, where researchers have proposed a way for doctors to operate using their own standard instruments by developing a special handle that fits on most surgical tools and lights up to indicate when enough pressure has been used during a procedure.  Read More

CEO of Innovationsmanufaktur Prof. Eckehard Fozzy Moritz using the GEWOS armchair for rowi...

Researchers have created a prototype armchair designed to take care of the elderly by giving them health and fitness advice ... and even a workout. Developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Germany, the GEWOS (Gesund Wohnen Mit Stil or Healthy Living With Style) armchair looks like an ordinary, comfortable chair. The difference is that it contains sensors built into the seat cushions, backrest and armrest that measure the heartbeat and oxygen saturation of the seated person, along with an integrated rowing machine that can get you exercising on the spot.  Read More

Scientists are using new technology to develop ski sledges optimized for each individual a...

Cross-country and biathlon skiers competing in the 2014 Winter Paralympics may have an advantage over skiers who have competed in previous games. This time around, some of them might be using custom-optimized ski sledges, made by a consortium including Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials.  Read More

Fraunhofer's telerehabilitation system in use

Generally speaking, people tend to dislike doing the exercises that are part of physiotherapy. Not helping matters is the fact that in many cases, patients must travel to a clinic to perform those exercises under the supervision of a trained professional. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS are developing a “telerehabilitation” system that allows patients to perform exercises at home or when out and about, while still receiving feedback from a physiotherapist.  Read More

It may look like prison-wear for babies, but this romper may actually help in the fight ag...

The causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) aren’t entirely understood, but its consequences are definitely tragic. According to recent figures, approximately 2,500 infants with the disorder cease breathing and subsequently perish every year, in the U.S. alone. While devices such as skin tone-monitoring cameras have been put to use to warn parents when their sleeping babies stop breathing, now researchers are looking into something else – a romper with an integrated stretchable circuit board.  Read More

The ShareKey app uses NFC to lock and unlock doors (Photo: Fraunhofer SIT)

Mobile phones have already swallowed up the average Joe's diary, compact camera, watch and Walkman. They're working on replacing the wallet as well – so the next logical step is to go hunting for the last remaining pocket-dwelling device they can gobble up in their mad fury of convergence – your keyring. Smart and secure door access apps and hardware have already sprung up using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – now there's ShareKey, which uses NFC (near field communication) and aims to be the most secure of all systems.  Read More

Fraunhofer is developing machines with built-in copy protection (Photo: Volker Steger)

Mention counterfeit goods and most people will probably think of knock-off watches or pirated DVDs, but counterfeiting is a much wider problem. Everything from aircraft components to groceries are faked on a regular basis, with a third of industries affected at an estimated worldwide cost of US$650 billion dollars. German machine tools are a favorite target and to help combat this the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Applied and Integrated Security (AISEC) in Garching, Germany, is developing new technologies and techniques to make counterfeiting of these items more difficult.  Read More

One of the test hulls, which had the electrochemical paint applied in select areas

Marine biofouling is the process in which organisms such as barnacles problematically colonize underwater surfaces. When it happens to the hulls of ships, the vessels become less hydrodynamic, having to burn more fuel in order to move through the water. Although hulls can be coated with paint that kills the offending organisms, that paint also releases toxic substances into the surrounding water. Now, however, scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials have developed a more environmentally-friendly paint, that uses electrolysis to control biofouling.  Read More

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