Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Fraunhofer

The Smartsense system provides real-time turn by turn navigation indoors (Photo: Fraunhofe...

It's not that long ago that GPS capabilities in a mobile phone were considered a standout feature. Today, GPS navigation is standard for smartphones, and as a result, many of us have come to rely on them when it comes to getting from A to B. However, GPS technology isn't without its faults, and if A to B is located under a roof, out of sight of the orbiting GPS satellites, then you can end up falling back on the not always reliable sense of direction. To fix the problem, Fraunhofer Research is developing Smartsense, a smartphone sensor capable of providing accurate navigation indoors, without the aid of GPS.  Read More

The IPMS spectrometer could one day be integrated into smartphones (Photo: Fraunhofer IPMS...

Foodies who've ever dreamed of having superhero-style vision that could analyze what they are about to eat should keep an eye on the upcoming Sensor+Trade fair in Nuremberg. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute of Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) will be exhibiting a tiny prototype spectrometer that can measure factors such as water and protein level in foods, meaning you won't make the mistake of buying fruit that looks good on the outside but is rotten at its core.  Read More

The Fraunhofer smartphone projector actually consists of an array of 200 microprojectors

If you were using a smartphone projector to shine an image onto an uneven surface, or onto a flat surface but at a diagonal angle, parts of the image would end up out of focus ... unless, that is, your phone featured a new prototype LED projector developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. Inspired by the compound eyes of insects, the device can reportedly display crisp, bright, distortion-free visuals onto irregular surfaces, and at non-perpendicular angles. Additionally, users can manipulate that display by reaching in and touching the projection surface.  Read More

A TriDiCam camera, outfitted with the new 3D CMOS system

Hovering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – most of which take the form of quadrocopters – are currently being developed for a wide range of applications. Some of these include the delivery of supplies to remote locations, urban reconnaissance, and military operations. Whether they’re flying solo or in organized swarms, however, they constantly need to be aware of potential collision hazards, both mobile and stationary. While various technologies are already being utilized for this purpose, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems has developed a new 3D CMOS sensor, that promises particularly good performance.  Read More

Fraunhofer's experimental new artificial hip (right)

While modern artificial hips are made of a number of high-tech materials, metal is still often the material of choice for younger, more active patients. This is due mainly to the fact that it’s so robust. Unfortunately, however, difficulties can arise in the metal ball-and-socket interface – where the artificial head of the femur meets the artificial socket of the pelvis – if things aren't perfectly aligned. In particular, the metal surfaces can wear against one another, decreasing the longevity of the implant and potentially causing health problems in the patient. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are developing a new type of heavy-duty artificial hip, that contains no metal at all.  Read More

Fraunhofer's external transmitter, which is paired with an internal mobile generator

When it comes to implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers, biosensors or drug-delivery devices, there are a few options regarding power sources. While batteries could be used in some applications, doing so would require surgically replacing the implant when its battery runs out. Radio wave-based and inductive systems are instead often used, in which power is “beamed” to the device from a source outside the body. According to researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems, however, such systems often have a limited range, and are easily affected by factors such as location, position and movement. Instead, they’ve developed what they claim is a better, more versatile system.  Read More

The electromagnetic compatibility of vehicle components is measured in a Fraunhofer lab

While electric cars are often touted as being less mechanically complex than their internal combustion-engined counterparts, there is at least one way in which they’re considerably more “involved” – their radios. Because electrical signals emitted by the car can potentially interfere with incoming radio signals, manufacturers must do things such as insulating the motor and shielding the cables. This adds time and material expenses to the production process. Now, however, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration have developed technology to help minimize the problem.  Read More

Fraunhofer's Multishuttle Moves robots, in the distribution center mock-up

When it comes to groups that work together to get a job done, ants have pretty much got the process perfected. That’s why computer scientist Marco Dorigo studied the creatures’ behavior, and created his Ant Colony Optimization model – an algorithmic technique that can be applied to human endeavors, when efficiency is the order of the day. Scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics have now applied these algorithms to a swarm of 50 autonomous shuttle robots working in a parts warehouse, in an effort to create a new and better type of materials-handling system.  Read More

One of Fraunhofer's artificial venous valves

Chronic venous insufficiency - or CVI - is a very common medical condition in which veins in the legs cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. It is caused by faulty valves within the leg veins, and causes blood to pool in the legs, which can lead to edemas and even open ulcers. Typically, treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics, along with the use of items such as compression stockings. Now scientists have developed a method of mass-producing artificial venous valves, that could replace the malfunctioning natural ones.  Read More

Some realistic-looking 'meat,' created by Fraunhofer's vegetarian cutlet factory

There are a number of reasons that some people choose not to eat meat – for instance, they may not want to support the slaughter of animals, they may wish to avoid the health risks associated with consuming too much animal protein, or perhaps they’re not big fans of the environmental impact of raising livestock on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, if these people still want to eat meat-like foods, a lot of the meat alternatives currently available are kind of ... yucky. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, however, is working on a device nicknamed the “vegetarian cutlet factory.” It produces continuous slabs of veggie-based mock meat, which is reportedly quite similar to the real thing.  Read More

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