FraunhoferNanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a renowned and leading German institution for applied research, just launched a research institute to develop digital technologies that help companies move into the digital era and remain competitive.

Fraunhofer Singapore builds on NTU’s two-decade long partnership with Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. With more than 69 research units throughout Germany, it is Europe’s leading application-oriented research organisation.
Mr S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry graced the opening of the institute which aims to advance a manufacturing paradigm known as Industry 4.0 where Singapore companies incorporate data analytics, industrial internet of things (IIoT), and automation into their manufacturing processes. Apart from projects focusing on virtual reality and augmented reality, the centre will also work on other digital solutions such as cognitive human-computer interfaces and 3D modelling.

Located at NTU, the new Fraunhofer Singapore institute is. For instance, working with the BMW Future Mobility Lab at NTU to improve driving safety. Researchers will develop human-machine interfaces that detect drivers’ emotions, attention span, fatigue as well as facial expressions.

“While we move from Gutenberg to Google in education, our industries are also doing away with the assembly line and welcoming cloud computing and automation. This new institute at NTU will create an ecosystem of technologies targeted for use by companies, and provide new training platforms for Singapore’s next-generation workforce,” NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said.

Digital solutions the institute intends to focus on include virtual and augmented reality technologies that will, for example, allow engineers to run diagnostics on machinery using real-time infographics presented in 3D on hand-held tablets, or to review virtually created products using virtual reality glasses before starting on actual production.

Supported by funding from industry partners and with funding of up to $23 million from the National Research Foundation (NRF), the new institute will boost Singapore’s Smart Nation ambitions, and promote the adoption of digital technologies across all sectors of the economy.

NRF CEO Professor Low Teck Seng said, “The current dramatic shift to a digital economy underscores the importance for Singapore companies to remain ahead by using technology to continually reinvent the way they do business and train their workers.  Our support of the Fraunhofer Singapore institute represents another step forward in using research in digital areas such as visual analytics, virtual and augmented reality and human-computer interaction to add value to work processes and training in our companies.”

Considering the strong drive in Singapore towards smart cities and intelligent infrastructure and advancement in IoT and Industry 4.0, the Fraunhofer Institute couldn’t have chosen a better place to start its advancement into the Asian market.

By Roger Stadler