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— Environment

Wood foam may be a new form of green home insulation

Insulating your home may help the environment by lowering your energy usage, but unfortunately the petroleum-based foam that's typically used as insulation isn't all that eco-friendly itself. Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, however, have developed a reportedly greener alternative that they claim works just as well – it's foam made from wood. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Sensor system designed to help seniors who have fallen and can't get up

For seniors in general, falls can result result in broken hips or other serious injuries. For seniors living alone, however, there's also a good chance that they could end up lying on the floor for up to several hours before anyone else knows what's happened. User-triggered radio devices such as Life Alert are helpful up to a point, although they're not much good if the user isn't carrying them at the time, or if they get knocked unconscious. That's why a group of German companies are developing the automatic safe@home system. Read More
— Environment

Sensor system lights up wind turbines only when aircraft approaches

With aspirations to claim 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by the 2050, it follows that Germany is taking a proactive approach to its clean energy transformation. Wind farms, while set to play an important part in achieving this goal, often meet impassioned opposition from disgruntled neighbors piqued by their perpetually blinking beacons. In an effort to address this issue, researchers have developed a sensor system for wind turbines which detects nearby aircraft, switching on a beacon warning system only as they approach. Read More
— Outdoors

Galileo-LawinenFon turns a smartphone into an avalanche transceiver

In October of last year, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) issued a warning about the dangers of relying on smartphone apps that were being marketed as economical alternatives to avalanche transceivers. But a new smartphone app and add-on hardware component could provide an alternative that is not only cheaper than dedicated avalanche transceivers, but also provides additional functionality. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

Fitness shirt powers e-bike based on heart rate and breathing

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS is developing its wearable sports monitoring FitnessSHIRT with a 2014 launch in mind. It recently detailed a new application for the technology, pairing it with a pedelec bike powertrain and smartphone app to seamlessly manage motor output based upon the user's physiological data. In other words, when you show signs of being tired and winded, the motor automatically kicks in extra power. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

eTriage armbands could get disaster victims treated faster

When emergency response crews have to deal with many casualties at once, such as at a disaster site, one of the first things they do is set up a triage system. This involves assessing the severity of each patient's injuries, so that the people who need help most urgently get it first. It's a system that works, but the EU-funded BRIDGE project is trying to make it better. The project partners are developing a new high-tech triage, that incorporates GPS and RFID technology. Read More
— Computers

Scientists jump the "air gap" with hidden acoustic networks

It could be assumed that the most effective way to safeguard your computer against the threat of cyber attacks would be to disconnect it from all networks: wireless, LAN, network cards or the internet. However, research from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE) has demonstrated a malware prototype with the ability to jump the "air gap" – meaning even that once surefire security measure might not be enough to ensure the protection of your computer. Read More
— Robotics

Factory-in-a-Day project aims to deploy work-ready robots within 24 hours

Industrial robots have proven useful in reducing production costs in large factories, with major enterprises enlisting their services to execute repetitive tasks. The Factory-in-a-Day project, which kicked off in October, aims to also make robotic technology beneficial to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by developing adaptable robots that can be integrated with workplace systems within 24 hours. Read More
— Sports

Smart shoe to improve jogging technique on the run

Given its accessibility to anyone with two feet, jogging is one of the most popular forms of fitness activity around the world, with around 10 million people in Germany alone donning their running shoes and hitting the pavement on a regular basis, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS). However, this popularity also translates into a large number of jogging-related injuries. In an effort to reduce the number of injuries, a research team from IPMS is developing a high-tech running shoe with the ability to evaluate a jogger's running form and technique in real-time. Read More
— Science

Grapesort system automatically obsesses over wine grapes

Wine grapes may soon be joining oranges and strawberries, on the list of "Fruits That Are Now Inspected and Sorted by Machines." As part of the Grapesort project, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation has helped create an automated system that not only gives bum grapes the boot, but also divides up the good ones according to quality. Read More