Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Fraunhofer

Some of Fraunhofer's printed thermoelectric generators, wrapped around a sample component

Thermoelectric materials, putting it simply, are able to generate electricity via differences in temperature. If thermoelectric felt were used to make a jacket, for instance, it could generate a current using the temperature gradient between the warm interior and cold exterior of the garment. Like many such promising technologies, however, the cost of thermoelectrics is something of an issue ... although thanks to a new process developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, that might not be the case for much longer.  Read More

Fraunhofer's W-band radar is equipped with a three-channel antenna with dielectric lenses ...

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) have developed a lightweight, compact radar that can “see” through non-transparent materials and whiteout snow conditions. The compact radar operates at frequencies of 75 to 110 GHz in the millimeter range W-band of the radio spectrum. Radars at this frequency can not only identify small objects up to three kilometers (1.8 miles) away, but they can also penetrate all manner of non-transparent, dielectric, and non-metallic materials, such as clothing, plastic surfaces, paper, wood, snow and fog.  Read More

AiQ's BioMan fabric monitors vital signs such as heart rate, respiration and skin temperat...

Wearable electronics like headphones and watches have long been a common inclusion in many an active person's tech cache. Such devices roll the function of electronics into a comfortable, ergonomic package that can travel far distances at fast speeds. The next generation of wearable electronics will become even more wearable and functional, shedding some of the bulky casing and integrating directly into clothing. From smart socks to hot jackets, the future of technology is molding itself around your body.  Read More

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

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