What sorts of things are the best and brightest at Germany’s universities currently working on? What exciting tech innovations from Germany and beyond can we expect to hit the market in the near future? This summer, the new CEBIT (11–15 June) will preview a range of innovations that are technologically within reach and will soon be a reality, focusing on megatrends like humanoid robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

At nearly three percent of GDP, Germany leads Europe on R&D spending (Source: Eurostat – that statistical office of the European Union). CEBIT will pick up on this fact, demonstrating Germany’s world-leading research capabilities to impressive effect.

Apart from being Europe’s No. 1 business festival for digitisation and innovation, CEBIT is an important meeting place for leading researchers, visionaries and lateral thinkers. This year, most of the participating research institutions will be presenting in the “Research & Innovation” section of CEBIT’s new d!tec platform. As well as that, numerous researchers from these institutions will be speaking on stage at the d!talk conference section of the show, where they will present groundbreaking concepts that are poised at the crossover point between science, business and industry.

The sixth generation of the ARMAR family of robots from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Hall 27) is sure to cause a stir

ARMAR-6 robots with enhanced AI capabilities

The sixth generation of the ARMAR family of robots from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Hall 27) is sure to cause a stir. ARMAR-6 packs a high level of AI smarts, IT processing power and mechatronic dexterity. Developed as part of the EU’s SecondHands project, ARMAR is a humanoid robot that can learn to pick up and use tools and pass them to human coworkers. ARMAR can also recognise when a fellow technician needs help and lend him/her a hand.

Among the promising developments for the retail sector on show at CEBIT will be a secure, anonymous and convenient payment and loyalty card system called PriPay. And it certainly is convenient: During initial testing it only took about a second to process payments. CEBIT visitors will be able to try the system out for themselves. At participating locations around the show, they will be able to collect PriPay points, which they can then redeem for a giveaway. 

The House of Living Labs research environment operated by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s FZI Research Center for Information Technology is a tech-transfer hub where researchers collaborate with partners from many other sectors to develop market-ready products. At CEBIT, FZI will present an intelligent camera system for connected cars that can provide detailed information on driver fitness and alertness. It does this by monitoring and evaluating driver heart rate, blink rate, head position and emotional indicators.

3D-ARILE, a pair of AR glasses developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research are designed to assist surgeons during tumor operations

Augmented reality for the O.R.

The institutes that make up the Fraunhofer Society will be mounting a showcase themed “Sparking Your Future” that will demonstrate their wide-ranging expertise in digital transformation. The showcase (Hall 27 and open-air site) will span an array of technology areas, including AI, Industry 4.0, cyber security and the Internet of Things. Highlights include 3D-ARILE, a pair of AR glasses developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (Fraunhofer IGD) that are designed to assist surgeons during tumor operations. Background: Malignant tumors often form metastases that spread via the body’s system of lymph nodes. Pinpointing the exact location of these nodes requires a great deal of skill on the part of the surgeon. The researchers at Fraunhofer IGD have therefore developed a navigation aid in which the exact location of lymph nodes is presented as a data overlay on the surgeon’s AR glasses.

Another featured new development from the Fraunhofer stable is aimed at tomorrow’s smartphone users. The revolutionary HawkSpex Mobile app developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (Fraunhofer IFF) enables users to scan produce for freshness and signs of chemical treatment, vehicle chassis parts for hidden repairs, and medicines for authenticity. These are just a very few of the exiting developments that the Fraunhofer researchers are planning to preview at CEBIT. 

True human-robot collaboration

Today’s industrial robots are only able to assist humans on a single-task basis. Robots won’t be fully able to relieve their human counterparts of physically demanding work – such as repetitive tasks or ergonomically suboptimal movement sequences in assembly plants – until their scope of collaboration is expanded to encompass multiple work steps. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) will be running a display at the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology (BMBF) pavilion in Hall 27, where it will demonstrate how humans and robots can collaborate efficiently and safely in tomorrow’s dynamic Industry 4.0 production environments.

DFKI researchers will also be using CEBIT to present the center’s RECUPERA-Reha project

DFKI researchers will also be using CEBIT to present the center’s RECUPERA-Reha project (Hall 27). The aim of the project is to develop an innovative, lightweight and mobile full-body exoskeleton that can support and rehabilitate people with neuromotor disorders occasioned by causes such as strokes.

Brain-computer interfaces and optimised medical treatments

Several big-name German universities and research institutions will be presenting their innovations as part of larger group pavilions staged by the governments of the federal states in which they are based. Hannover Medical School (MHH), for example, will be participating at the Lower Saxony pavilion (Hall 16). MHH is currently conducting research into a next-generation hearing-aid system, the idea being that tomorrow’s hearing aids will feature brain-computer interfaces and will be thought-controlled. To this end, the MHH researchers are currently looking at ways of tapping into hearing-aid wearers’ EEG signals. The university will also be showcasing cochlear implants with integrated AI technology.

The German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB), Hannover, will be demonstrating how big data technologies can dramatically improve the quality of information management in medicine. The aim of the TIB information management process is to model genome data and information from various medical records in databases in order to improve patient treatment. 

Neurorobotics platform

Over at Bavaria’s “Bayern Innovativ” pavilion (Hall 27), Technical University of Munich’s Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Real-time Systems unit will be profiling its contribution to the Neurorobotics Platform, an international joint project aimed at stimulating brain models which are made up of neural networks and which control an artificial body. CEBIT visitors will be able to witness the platform in action. TU Munich will also be showcasing a biometric robotic mouse that can imitate rodent locomotion.

The “Baden-Württemberg International” pavilion will comprise six exhibitors and will have a strong focus on intelligent systems and Industry 4.0

The “Baden-Württemberg International” pavilion (Hall 27) will comprise six exhibitors and will have a strong focus on intelligent systems and Industry 4.0. Highlights include Aalen University’s presentation of its Cyber-Physical Teaching Factory. The factory is a teaching and research platform that can be used both to test digital twins and applications and to manufacture small parts. The presentation at CEBIT will focus mainly on testing data security by means of factory hacking and intrusion detection systems.

Meanwhile, the state of Baden-Württemberg’s University of Stuttgart will show visitors how a flow field can be interactively visualised directly on the actual object concerned using augmented reality.

Top researchers on stage at d!talk

World-class scientists will be taking the stage at CEBIT to report on the latest technological discoveries and developments in their areas of research. Among the luminaries who have signaled their intention to participate are: Marc Raibert, the CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, who, with the aid of his trusty dog-like high-end robot SpotMini, will be demonstrating how robotics is revolutionising our everyday lives (Tuesday, 12 June, Hall 27); psychologist and memory hacker Julia Shaw of University College London (author of bestseller “The Memory Illusion”), on Wednesday,13 June, in Hall 27; and Jaron Lanier, VR legend extraordinaire and one of the fiercest critics of the big Internet corporations and their business models (Monday, 11 June, Convention Center). The Monday Convention Center lineup also includes Fraunhofer Society President Dr.  Reimund Neugebauer, who will talk about digitization from a scientific viewpoint. And last, but by no means least, Ranga Yogeshwar, one of Germany’s best-known science journalists, will discuss the future relationship between humans and computers in a presentation titled “Who’s programming who” (Wednesday, 13 June, Hall 27).

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