By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI showed off its gesture control expertise at the 2017 Hannover Messe trade fair in Germany.

The institute brought the EASY COHMO project -ergonomics assistance systems for contactless human-machine operation- to the annual trade fair. The project aims to overcome the problems of human-robot interaction and cooperation by developing interaction components for contactless, gesture-based human-machine operation.

Over 225,000 people attended the five day industrial show which featured over 6,500 exhibitors across five halls of exhibit space. The trade fair was opened for the 12th year by Chancellor Angela Merkel. This year’s show had a focus on industry 4.0, automation and smart energy systems.

Robot assistance systems and intelligent automation solutions have the potential to offer a crucial future contribution by taking over physically demanding, ergonomically difficult and monotonous tasks from human workers. Human-robot co-operation is expected to provide great social benefits especially in the context of demographic changes including an ageing population and a shortage of younger qualified specialists.

Highly specialised and effective robot systems are being developed today for deployment in various complex work environments such as production, health and mobility. However, the increasingly diverse functionality, specialisation and capabilities of these systems bring new challenges for users who must interact with these complex machines. That is why new operating concepts for human-machine interaction and human-machine cooperation that are adapted to user requirements and integrated into the work context have to be developed.

The goals of the EASY COHMO project are to improve interaction and cooperation with robots and to develop solutions for novel, easy to operate yet safe assistance systems in production and health. The Fraunhofer HHI is developing a 3D near-field and middle-field acquisition system and corresponding information processing for capturing, tracking and interpretation of body movements and hand gestures. This establishes an important foundation for the integration of robots into working processes that will become increasingly necessary in the future, especially in Germany.

Innovations for the digital society of the future are the focus of research and development work at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. In this area, Fraunhofer HHI is a leader in the development for mobile and optical communication networks and systems as well as processing and coding of video signals. Together with international partners from research and industry, Fraunhofer HHI works in the whole spectrum of digital infrastructure – from fundamental research to the development of prototypes and solutions.

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