Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Fraunhofer

Fraunhofer's cylinder bore hole honing tool

You may think that the pistons in your car’s engine slide in and out of the cylinder bore holes smooth as silk, but according to researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, the process could be smoother. If it was, your car would burn less gasoline, and require less oil for lubrication. Well, those researchers have developed an engine-building tool, designed to minimize engine cylinder friction.  Read More

Fraunhofer's polymer-copper desalination pipes

In a typical desalination plant, pipes made from titanium or other expensive types of metal are an integral part of the process. Now, however, scientists have created a new type of piping material that is much cheaper to produce – potentially making desalination possible in countries that previously couldn’t afford it.  Read More

Ergon's CF3 Pro Carbon suspension seatpost

Nobody likes getting a sore butt (or numb “other areas”) while cycling, yet a lot of cyclists also don’t want the added weight of a suspension seatpost – even a snazzy one like the BodyFloat. Well, those individuals may well be interested in Ergon Bike Ergonomics’ forthcoming CF3 Pro Carbon seatpost. Made from two parallel carbon fiber leaf springs, it actually weighs less than some conventional carbon seatposts.  Read More

Dark silicon could improve efficiency in traditional solar cells by harvesting energy in t...

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have developed a system that allows solar cells to effectively harvest energy from the infrared spectrum, tapping into a source of energy that in the past has mostly been out of reach. The new technology, which promises to work well with commercially available solar cells, has the potential of becoming a standard in the solar panels of tomorrow.  Read More

The infrared wireless communication module developed at Fraunhofer can transfer data wirel...

Back around the turn of the century, infrared ports for wireless data transfer over short distances were commonplace on many mobile devices. But it wasn't long before infrared communication technology was kicked to the curb in favor of the more versatile radio-based Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. Fraunhofer researchers are looking to resurrect infrared wireless data transfer technology with the development of a “multi-gigabit communication module” that can wirelessly transfer data 46 times faster than Wi-Fi and 1,430 times faster than Bluetooth.  Read More

The smart fabric incorporates a web of conductive threads, wired into a microcontroller

If you’re a burglar, and all that separates you from your quarry is what appears to be a simple sheet of fabric, you might not want to cut it. That’s because it could be a new smart fabric, that will set off an alarm if it’s breached. Created by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, the fabric incorporates a web of silver-coated conductive threads that are connected to a microcontroller. If that controller detects a break in the weak electric current that travels through the fibers, it’ll be sure to let the right people know.  Read More

The AutoTram Extra Grand (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)

Love them or hate them, bendy buses are impressive. You see one coming around a corner looking like an ordinary bus, then comes the articulated bit and then more bus. Now the unveiling in Dresden, Germany of the AutoTram Extra Grand raises the bar with a bendy bus that’s more like a bendy train. With three sections, measuring over 30 meters (100 ft) long and a passenger capacity of 256, it’s the world’s longest bus.  Read More

A prototype of the Fraunhofer system, with the RF node at left, and the sensor housing at ...

If a storm rolls in while you’re at work, and you’re wondering if you left your bedroom window open, you can tell via an internet connection – if that window is equipped with a contact sensor. Ordinarily, such sensors require electrical wiring, and a battery or mains power. A new window system developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, however, works without wires, and draws its power from the environment around it.  Read More

The tiny biosensor can calculate a person's glucose levels from tears or sweat

Despite promising developments in recent years, millions of type-1 diabetes sufferers worldwide still face the often-painful daily burden of finger sticks to test their blood glucose levels. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) have developed a biosensor that provides a non-invasive way to measure blood glucose levels and can transmit its readings wirelessly to a mobile device.  Read More

The personal climate control seats were tested in the front end of an Airbus A310 (Image: ...

These days, jet air travel is less of a glamorous Don Draper adventure and often more of a tedious ordeal. The cabin air doesn’t help as passengers suffer sinus troubles and can’t stay warm or cool enough for comfort. At the ILA Berlin Air Show running September 11 - 16, the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) of Valley, Germany will reveal to the public a new airline seat that provides air passengers with individual climate control that may make even travelling Coach a bit more pleasant.  Read More

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