Shaping the future with human and artificial intelligence

The Fraunhofer IIS magazine’s series on AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive systems and machine learning are key to the future transformation of the economy and society. For the global economy and industrial value chains this means a fundamental structural shift, because such technical systems are capable of learning and are increasingly in a position to apply what they have learned to new situations. They can plan processes, make forecasts and even interact with humans. The International Data Corporation estimates that global expenditure on cognitive solutions will reach 40 billion US dollars by the end of 2020. Not only does the use of new technologies create new opportunities, it also always forces us all to face new challenges. Ensuring Germany’s technological leadership in AI calls not only for technological solutions, but also for a dialogue within society. Fears and myths must be dispelled through scientific insight. Machines will expand our sphere of influence, but they will not lead the way.


At many of its institutes, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft develops key AI technologies and related applications in areas such as robotics, image and speech processing, and process optimization. Machine learning techniques for industry are as much a part of this as the use of cognitive systems in cybersecurity and essential research into artificial neural networks. Our research plays a major role in shaping AI theory and ethics, while also orienting itself strongly to customers’ practical requirements.

In our magazine series, you’ll discover more about why Fraunhofer IIS uses AI, what our current projects are and how you can collaborate with us.

What does artificial intelligence have to do with beer foam? Segmentation, compression, and visualization of 4D topography data in the KI4D4E project

Series: Artifical Intelligence / 5.2.2024

© Fraunhofer IIS / hl Studios
schematic change in shape of pores in a material, as they are often examined with in situ CT at the synchrotron

Synchrotrons support extremely rapid 4D X-ray imaging in the millisecond range. This makes it possible to study rapid processes, such as the decomposition of foams or the formation of pores, as shown here in this schematic image.

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AI improves the listening experience

Series: Artifical Intelligence / 29.9.2023 / The Communication Acoustics Group at Fraunhofer IIS has developed an AI-based noise reduction algorithm

© Fraunhofer IIS / hl Studios

Clear sound, even when you are surrounded by noisy traffic or your colleague is hammering on their keyboard? A team at Fraunhofer IIS developed a low-complexity real-time AI-based noise reduction technology. What makes it unique is that it is device independent.

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ChatGPT in science: Is AI suitable for texts in research?

Series: Artifical Intelligence / 18.04.2023 / An interview with group manager Dr. Volker Bruns

© Peshkova / Fotolia


Everyone’s talking about ChatGPT. The AI-powered chatbot from US company OpenAI answers questions and produces texts – and is currently available to everyone for free. Volker Bruns, Group Manager Medical Image Analysis in the Digital Health Systems department, “talked” to the bot about digital pathology. He found the results impressive, but they also caused him to wonder: What are the implications of robots like ChatGPT for scientific work? He talked to us about this in an interview

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High distinction, more networking: Prof. Ute Schmid named EurAI Fellow

Series: Artifical Intelligence / 29.06.2022 / Interview with Prof. Ute Schmid, expert in explainable AI

Prof. Ute Schmid
© Ute Schmid

The European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI) is an umbrella organization for scientific associations devoted to work in the field of artificial intelligence. Every year, about 3 percent of the members of the EurAI member societies are named EurAI Fellows. One of this year’s four new Fellows is Dr. Ute Schmid, Professor of Applied Computer Science / Cognitive Systems at the University of Bamberg and head of the Group on Comprehensible AI (CAI; formerly Explainable AI) at Fraunhofer IIS. In this interview, she explains what this honor means to her and her research, and looks back on her research findings of the past few years.

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Dr. Marco Breiling – “We can’t wait for the rest of the world”

Series: AI / 21.03.2022

© Fraunhofer IIS / Paul Pulkert

Dr. Marco Breiling (51) wants to assist in shaping the future of Germany. The electrical engineer from Erlangen helps get successful high-tech products made in Germany. Inspired by the energy efficiency of a bee’s brain, his team develops clever microchips that process very large data volumes in an energy-saving manner. This achievement impressed the jury of the pilot innovation competition “Energy-Efficient AI System” organized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Here, Marco Breiling gives fascinating insights into his field of research.

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Fraunhofer-project SEC-Learn

Series: AI / 18.03.2022

Icon image - neuromorphic hardware
© zapp2photo –

The SEC-Learn (Sensor Edge Cloud for Federated Learning) project, involving eleven Fraunhofer Institutes, promises a major technological leap in the field of neuromorphic hardware: for the first time, a chip is being developed to accelerate spiking neural networks (SNN) in conjunction with what is known as federated learning. This would offer practical benefits for companies and individuals.

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Artificial intelligence: Advice and action for an intelligent Bavaria

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / 20.5.2021

Edge AI_AdobeStock_336736255
© Siarhei -

Bavaria has set its sights on becoming a hotspot for artificial intelligence (AI). To this end, the State Government established the Bavarian Council on AI. It is chaired by Prof. Sami Haddadin, Director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MSRM). The body’s 21 members have been drawn from various fields. High-caliber experts from universities, non-university research institutions and industry are pooling their know-how and resources to advance Bavaria’s High-Tech Agenda in the field of AI through intensive cooperation in a dense network.

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Dramatically reducing the risk of stroke with neuromorphic hardware

Communication Systems / Smart Sensing and Electronics / Engineering of Adaptive Systems / 6.5.2021

The team from Fraunhofer IIS and FAU with its “Lo3-ML” (Low-power low-memory low-cost ECG signal analysis using ML algorithms) project triumphed as one of the four winning teams in the “energy-efficient AI system” pilot innovation competition.

Computer architecture inspired by the human brain – to most people, this sounds rather abstract and removed from everyday life. Far from it: a research team from Fraunhofer IIS and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has developed neuromorphic hardware capable of detecting early signs of atrial fibrillation and considerably reducing the risk of stroke. In other words, this application has an entirely practical place in everyday life.

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“KI-PREDICT” – Intelligent process monitoring with on-sensor signal preprocessing

Smart Sensing and Electronics / 28.4.2021

© Fraunhofer IIS

Group manager Dr. Matthias Völker and senior engineer Dr. Markus Stahl-Offergeld both work in the Smart Sensing and Electronics Division at Fraunhofer IIS. They are currently working on “KI-PREDICT”, a project funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) devoted to on-sensor data processing supported by AI functions. For this project, the two experts are focusing on the development of a “sensor interface ASIC” with integrated AI functions. One of the partners in the “KI-PREDICT” project is Rolf Slatter, the managing director of Sensitec GmbH since 2009. Sensitec is a global market leader in high-quality, innovative magnetic sensor solutions. We asked Matthias Völker, Markus Stahl-Offergeld, and Rolf Slatter to tell us about the project and their collaboration.

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Neuromorphic hardware for autonomous driving

Communication Systems / 22.3.2021

Bringing intelligence to devices is an essential prerequisite for autonomous driving. After all, real-life traffic situations demand fast responses and leave no time to transmit sensor data to a cloud for intelligent analysis. In the KI-FLEX project, researchers are developing neuromorphic hardware that allows artificial intelligence (AI) to be integrated directly into a car – in the form of a flexible platform. Project coordinator Michael Rothe from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS offers his insights into the project.

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AI series: Neural networks that fire spikes

Communication Systems / 9.3.2021

Johannes Leugering
© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert

Analog or digital – two terms that will be quite familiar to most people. But when it comes to artificial intelligence, only the experts know that there’s something “in between.” They call this “in between” the spiking neural network (SNN). One of the main hopes for the SNN approach is that it will resolve how to integrate “intelligence” directly into devices. Cognitive scientist Johannes Leugering explains what’s involved.

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Neuromorpic hardware: Paving the way for Edge AI

Communication Systems / Smart Sensing and Electronics / 10.3.2021

Robotic lawn mowers have only limited “intelligence”: up to now they have needed a boundary cable to prevent them from accidentally buzzing the neighbor's grass as well. Edge AI will make it possible to equip lawn mowers, sensors or other devices with artificial intelligence – without having to send the data gathered for the intelligent task to the cloud. Instead, the “intelligence” will be located in the device itself. But in many cases, this can work only with the help of special, extremely energy-efficient chips; powerful microcontroller chips are rarely suitable because they consume too much energy and are too expensive.

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Making machine learning explainable and transparent

Smart Sensing and Electronics / 2.12.2020

Prof. Ute Schmid
© Ute Schmid

Professor Ute Schmid has been at the head of the Project Group Explainable AI (EAI) since January 2020. Schmid and her team explore ways to help users understand machine learning.

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Explainable AI

Smart Sensing and Electronics / 2.12.2020

Prof. Ute Schmid
© Ute Schmid

In our interview, Professor Ute Schmid, head of the Comprehensible Artificial Intelligence project group and professor at the University of Bamberg, and Dominik Seuss, head of the Intelligent Systems group and head of the Image Analysis and Pattern Recognition business unit, describe in an interview how AI is constantly expanding to include more and more applications and further areas of implementation and explain why humans require transparency and explainability in AI systems.

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Edge AI: Stronger together

Communication Systems / Smart Sensing and Electronics / 21.12.2020

© ©Siarhei -

Some challenges are best faced shoulder to shoulder – like developing the chips, algorithms, and the hardware needed to integrate artificial intelligence directly into end devices, a paradigm also known as “Edge AI”. Marco Breiling, chief scientist at the Fraunhofer IIS Communication Systems division and Dr. Loreto Mateu, group manager at the Fraunhofer IIS Smart Sensing and Electronics division, talk about why their collaboration on Edge AI is so fruitful, and the benefits of working in an international team.

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AI series: European Sovereignty in AI

Fraunhofer IIS / 23.11.2020

Prof. Dr. Alexander Martin, Fraunhofer IIS director, responsible for the Positioning and Networks as well as the Supply Chain Services research areas

How can we leverage our expertise on a European level so as to ensure European sovereignty in AI? Statement from Prof. Dr. Alexander Martin, Fraunhofer IIS director, responsible for the Positioning and Networks as well as the Supply Chain Services research areas


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AI series: Next generation artificial intelligence

Fraunhofer IIS / 12.11.2020

Künstliche Intelligenz
© ©Siarhei -

Whether it’s about automating processes or analyzing large data volumes, smart and self-learning systems are increasingly becoming an important part of business processes. In the past, these smart systems had to be connected to a cloud because that was the only way of providing the level of computing power required to run the mathematical algorithms. Now edge AI, short for edge artificial intelligence, is enabling the next generation of smart systems and transferring the know-how to the devices themselves.

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AI series: Edge AI FAQ

Fraunhofer IIS / 12.11.2020

© Kaikoro

Artificial intelligence gives technical systems the ability to learn, thus enabling them to apply what they have learned to new situations. Typically, the “intelligence” is not stored in the system itself, but rather in clouds that provide the high computing power required. The common term is therefore cloud artificial intelligence, or cloud AI. But people are also hearing more and more about edge AI.

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AI series: Putting artificial intelligence into practice

Fraunhofer IIS / 30.9.2020

© Adobe Stock/sdecoret

How can AI benefit business and industry, and what is Fraunhofer IIS currently researching? The division directors of Fraunhofer IIS highlight the opportunities AI technologies have to offer.

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AI series: How AI can boost efficiency in logistics

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / Supply Chain Services / 12.6.2020

Christian Menden
© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert

Head of Department Christian Menden is responsible for developing an AI strategy for the Working Group for Supply Chain Services (SCS).

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AI series: Mining data to extract knowledge

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / 5.6.2020

© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert

Prof. Alexander Martin is head of the Fraunhofer IIS and also in charge of the co-located ADA Lovelace Center. He and his team are looking into ways to extract information from big data using artificial intelligence (AI).

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AI series: Machine learning drives industrial projects forward

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / Postioning and Networks / 7.2.2020

Dr. Christopher Mutschler
© Fraunhofer IIS/Manuela Wamser

Dr. Christopher Mutschler is one of the AI experts at Fraunhofer IIS. He researches machine learning and ensures that scientific findings make their way into industry. In this interview, Ilona Hörath reflects on his career path and field of work.

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»This is absolutely one of the most difficult problems in AI research.«

Audio and Media Technologies

Birgit Brüggemeier, Ph.D.
© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert
Project manager Birgit Brüggemeier is researching intelligent human-machine interaction using voice. Together with other AI experts, she is developing future voice interfaces.

Voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and the like are becoming more and more popular, but the systems struggle when it comes to understanding complex contents and context or deriving semantic meaning. Birgit Brüggemeier knows what the problem is: »The machine lacks common sense.« Together with her project team, she is working on the European version of a voice assistant, looking at how these error messages can be communicated to the user without them getting annoyed and ending their interaction with the voice assistant.

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Paradigm shift in applied research

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / 12.9.2019

Multipath problem
© Fraunhofer IIS/Franziska Köhler, Paul Pulkert
Ordinary algorithms struggle to cope with this so-called “multipath problem.” However, machine learning has opened up a new way of solving such conundrums.

Fraunhofer solutions for customers will look different in the future: where conventional programming has tended to reach its limits, the institute is investigating new AI approaches. Read here how AI is elevating research at Fraunhofer IIS to a new plane.

Near-sensor AI: Generating sensor data of outstanding quality

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / Development Center X-ray Technology EZRT / 19.6.2019

Dr. Norman Uhlmann, deputy divisional director at Fraunhofer EZRT
© Fraunhofer IIS / Paul Pulkert

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly important role in research. Dr. Norman Uhlmann, Deputy Division Director at Fraunhofer EZRT, discusses the prospect of using AI at a level close to sensors.

“We’re determined to be in on the act”

Cognitive Sensor Technologies / 16.5.2019

Prof. Albert Heuberger, Dr. Bernhard Grill, directors of Fraunhofer IIS
© Fraunhofer IIS/Peter Roggenthin
Prof. Albert Heuberger and Dr. Bernhard Grill want to advance AI technologies at Fraunhofer IIS in such a way that they benefit industry and users.

In this interview, Prof. Albert Heuberger and Dr.  Bernhard Grill explain why the time is ripe for artificial intelligence and how AI can make technological developments for customers even more beneficial.


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