Inventors' Trade Show iENA 2021: Medal Shower for the TU Ilmenau

At the international trade fair "Ideas - Inventions - Innovations" iENA 2021 in Nuremberg, scientists from the TU Ilmenau did extremely well in the award ceremony for the best inventions: They received three gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

View of the joint stand "Thüringer Verwertungsverbund", with which the PATON-PTH exploitation agency at the TU Ilmenau presented the innovations from Thuringia's universities and research institutions.

As every year, the patent management of the Thuringian universities of the PATON I State Patent Centre Thuringia of the TU Ilmenau (PATON-PTH) had presented the inventions of the eleven Thuringian universities and research institutions at the most important trade fair of its kind worldwide. This year, the exploitation agency was represented with 12 inventions as part of the joint stand "Thüringer Verwertungsbund". Nine innovations came from the TU Ilmenau alone: technology offers, systems and processes from the fields of mechanics, medical technology, automotive and environmental technology and measurement technology. Seven of these were honoured with medals for their degree of novelty and their exploitation potential. The experts on the jury were impressed by the achievements of the researchers from the TU Ilmenau. The long-standing chairman of the jury, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Elmar Wagner, said:

The TU Ilmenau is always the technical highlight of this fair. It is always a certain period of time ahead of others and of industry in the development of technology.

Dr. Dietrich Schweitzer, Prof. Jens Haueisen and Dr. Matthias Klemm from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science were awarded a gold medal for the invention "Device and method for eliminating the influence of upstream layers in spectral measurements of layered objects". The invention is realized in a novel laser scanner ophthalmoscope and concerns a method for eliminating interfering influences in the time-resolved measurement of the extremely weak fluorescence of endogenous substances. The fluorescence measurement is used to detect cellular metabolic changes at the back of the eye. The invention enables an exact quantitative evaluation of the ocular fundus and lens fluorescence for early diagnosis of metabolic changes. Furthermore, the method can be used for other layered objects, for example for the examination of skin layers when cancer is suspected.

The team Prof. Klaus Zimmermann, Prof. Valter Böhm, Dr. Jhohan-Harvey Chavez-Vega and Dr. Tobias Kaufhold received the iENA Gold Medal for the innovation "End effector based on magnetorheological elastomer for gripping and manipulation systems". The end effector (gripper) is based on the sensor-controlled interaction of highly elastic and magnetically controllable elastomers. These are able to sense sensitive objects and adapt to the shape of the object to be gripped. Magnetic fields cause the elastomers to solidify when the system has a firm grip on an object in the truest sense of the word.

Thanks to the special properties of the flexible elastomer, the innovative gripper can detect the shape of different target objects, thus enabling significantly improved gripping of differently shaped objects.

The third gold medal at this year's Inventors' Fair was won by Prof. Klaus Augsburg, David Hesse, Vincenzo Ricciardi and Christopher Hamatschek for the development of a new vehicle condition control system and a method for vehicle condition control to reduce powertrain emissions, in particular emissions from brakes and tyres. By means of the invention, abrasion and particulate emissions which occur over the course of a driving distance to be completed or of a driving maneuver can be limited in such a way that a predetermined maximum value is not exceeded on the basis of an advantageous driving dynamics design. The limitation takes place by means of an emission- and driving dynamics-optimal driving route calculated before the start of the journey.

Johannes Belkner and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eberhard Manske were honored with a silver medal for a new method and a device for improving the confocal measurement of surfaces. When optically measuring the height of a sample (profile, surface), the nature of the sample itself or other optical properties that change during the measurement lead to height measurement errors. Up to now, hardly any research has been done on this problem. The method developed at the TU Ilmenau fully compensates for these errors and thus enables more precise measurements of technical surfaces with inclined flanks, free-form surfaces or highly tilted surfaces.

Prof. Peter Husar was also awarded a silver medal for a special arrangement and method for electrical current stimulation. The invention was developed for use in electrotherapy of neurological problems. Current technology is largely based on the direct application of direct current (DC) for neurological stimulation. This can result in unwanted voltage drops at the contact points between the stimulator and the brain, resulting in toxic substances. The new method makes it possible to generate a signal form of the injected current which, on the one hand, avoids the formation of unwanted decomposition voltages at contact points and, on the other hand, generates the desired DC current or voltage at the neurons in the brain.

Silke Augustin, Prof. Thomas Fröhlich, Helge Mammen and Juan Sebastian Marin-Toro received abronze medal for the development of a device and a method for the automatic, traceable calibration of thermometers for ambient temperature measurement. The verification of the characteristic stability of these thermometers after a long period of use is usually carried out externally in calibration laboratories, usually in calibration baths filled with various media. The invention now enables automated calibration of a thermometer on site without having to remove the thermometer from its measuring point. Cases of application are in the field of temperature monitoring in meteorological weather stations, storage rooms and climatic chambers with high requirements for accurate temperature measurement.

Another bronze medal went to Martin Schiele and Prof. Klaus Augsburg for generating a digital twin for numerous applications. Many industrial and household systems are subject to certain control algorithms for correct operation. The more complex the system, the more extensive and time-consuming the parameterization (specification) of the algorithm's controllers. By generating a digital copy of the object to be controlled, reinforcement learning can be used to create an autonomous learning agent that is capable of performing the control task without human assistance afterwards. The invention of the TU Ilmenau includes the methodology for generating digital twins with the help of neural networks and subsequent use for training autonomous agents through reinforcement learning.

The innovations of the Thuringian universities and research institutions presented at the iENA 2021 will now continue to be supervised by PATON-PTH and the inventor team will be intensively supported on the way to exploitation.


Jan Axel Schleicher

Head of Team Patent Management Thuringian Universities PATON-PTH