© Fraunhofer IAO
In our research projects, we develop new methods and technologies for virtual engineering and Human Factors Engineering. These projects are carried out on behalf of funding authorities which include the European Union, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), or the State of Baden-Württemberg. This provides a springboard for our work on implementation projects contracted directly by industrial clients.
The following list gives an overview of our current research investigations:
Digital product creation|
In order to make use of end-to-end process and tool chains, it is essential to bridge the gap between product development and design on the one hand, and production planning on the other.
We are exploring ways to synchronize and match the two development strands. The Digital Production innovation cluster and several projects in the area of mass customization represent flagship projects in this field.
When developing systems and applications for virtual engineering, we orientate ourselves towards the guiding principle of frontloading.
Deploying simulation and virtual realities as early as possible in the development process can avoid errors later on in the course of development. That is why we concern ourselves with the use of immersive technologies in the early phases of product development, in the design phase (CAD) and also in functional validation.
On such assignments, we place emphasis on simulating the interaction between the product and the human being, and optimizing the »interaction« between the developers and the immersive technology.
Immersive construction planning|
Virtual reality offers a great deal of potential benefits for construction planning: Experiencing the building as early as the conception phase, and actually walking through it, considerably eases communication between architects, planners and the property owners.
Here, immersive technologies in particular have proven their worth.
Nevertheless, when it comes to digitizing planning processes without media discontinuity, the construction industry lags far behind other sectors such as the auto industry. In order to make up for this »handicap«, we are focusing our current research on the development of configurators for construction projects, as well as process and tool chains for individual objects and large-scale projects.
Human-machine interaction in vehicles|
The interaction between human and machine in vehicles is being altered by built-in driver assistance, information, communication and entertainment systems.
While this may in some ways make life easier for drivers, they must also cope with a growing number new difficulties and distractions. In order to identify and reliably prevent the possible negative effects of new systems in cars, a comprehensive analysis of the interaction between the human and the vehicle must be carried out. We make use of driving simulators and test cars in our investigations of human-machine interfaces for individual functions as well as integrated systems that comprise various functions.
As a rule, research activities are carried out within the framework of collaborative projects at European level with several participating automakers and suppliers.
Innovations for immersive systems|
The basic technology for immersive systems is developing very rapidly. The entertainment electronics industry leads the way in preparing this technology for the mass market.
Nevertheless, the development of »serious« applications in an industrial context must extend beyond the mainstream.
We are driving forward the development of VR systems that offer exact stereo views for a group of several users. Other projects involve systems for distributed rendering to improve graphics performance, stereo display systems with adjustable resolution, or mixed-reality solutions that incorporate an appropriate degree of haptic responsiveness for the respective application.
Integrated lighting and display systems|
The use of LED and OLED technology will make it possible to fuse the function of lights and display screens.
In developing the appropriate solutions, we concentrate first on applications at the workplace. Building prototypes allows us to examine the influence on people, on their health, their circadian rhythms and their performance. We are also conducting longitudinal studies on already marketable systems in a real workplace situation.