Articles from "Microelectronics News"

Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics

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In the right light

Sight is a human‘s most important sense: we receive about 80 % of our information about our surroundings through our eyes. Because we spend increasing amounts of time indoors, the right lighting is very important in ensuring that we feel comfortable when living and working. Fraunhofer IIS / EAS is therefore working on “EnKonSens,” a research project to develop a new type of intuitive system for electronic light control.


Artificial illumination of rooms is often not ideally adapted to the individual needs of the people inside. While illumination at work is intended to support concentration in an efficient manner, lighting within your own home is supposed to increase your well-being. Older people, in particular, require special light concepts to ensure that distracting shadows on stairways and thresholds do not put them at unnecessary risk. This is where the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Design Automation Division EAS, come in, in collaboration with partners from industry and science: together, and as part of the EnKonSens project (the name is derived from the German for “Energy-self-sufficient Mobility for Context-sensitive Building Automation”), they are developing an automatic solution that creates adapted light situations for different scenarios.

Energy-efficient and reliable

At the core of the system are energy-independent sensors: these automatically detect which lighting situation is currently required for a room in order to generate the needed light as efficiently as possible. The radio sensors do not need batteries and obtain the power they need from energy harvesting ,as it is known. This is when energy is obtained from the environment, e.g. from motion. This allows the project partners to create systems that are almost maintenance-free and that automatically switch on lamps for your working area or your sofa with the appropriate lighting strength and light spectrum. If no one is in the room, the light is switched off. These measures alone can result in significant energy savings and increase the life cycle of light sources. Even LED lights age as their usage time increases, and they may use up to 20 % more energy than when they were new. The scientists also want to reduce the energy used to a minimum by means of particularly efficient light switches and related switch concepts.

Easy to operate

The researchers also aim to develop a particularly user-friendly interface for the controls: an intuitive operating concept, such as for a remote control or a smartphone, provides the user with a transparent overview of the system‘s current status and additional control options. Intelligent sensors also allow the system to restrict the information it displays to that which is relevant to the user in the current situation. Someone in the bedroom, for example, will not be shown the operating options for the living room. This intuitive controllability will come into its own in an aging society, and will allow as many people as possible to use the systems.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research will support EnKonSens to the tune of 2.4 mill. € over the next three years.



In addition to Fraunhofer IIS / EAS, the following partners are involved in the project: University of Kassel • Telefunken GmbH • EnOcean GmbH • BSC Computer GmbH



Sandra Kundel
Phone +49 351 4640 -809
Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Design Automation Division EAS
Zeunerstrasse 38
01069 Dresden