Getting nerdy in Dresden
In Leipzig we used bikes to get some physical exercise, so now we move to another German city – Dresden – for an opportunity to exercise our brains!
We spent our afternoon at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems – an institute focused on conducting research and development for many technologies used in our everyday lives. From inventions that are well known to us – phone screens or barcode scanners – to futuristic sensors and microchips, the research centre does it all!
Head of Business Development at the Institute, Aron Guttowski, showed us around and gave us a sneak peek into the world of laboratory work. We soon realised we all lacked a university degree in microsystems, which seemed necessary to fully understand the technologies developed at the Institute. Thankfully, we were given examples of the practical applications for the technology, so that we could understand how they contribute to making our lives easier.
Some of the particularly memorable examples include systems that are able to help the elderly maintain their independence. Using remote temperature measurements, sensors are able to detect if a person has fallen down. Another futuristic device scans fruits at the supermarket and detects their freshness. We even had the opportunity to look at the veins in our arms under a special machine that measures oxygen levels in the body.
Our afternoon ended with a tour of the ‘clean rooms’ – special spaces where dirt and dust are reduced to a minimum to provide an adequate environment for conducting research. Aron explained how collaborating with other European partners allows them to bring their technology forward onto the market. “Being ‘application agnostic’ means that the products we develop can be used in many different ways and niche markets,” explained Aron.
Even if we don’t have the knowledge to completely understand the complicated technology behind these products, we left the Institute feeling a bit smarter…