© iStock.com/Irina Shisterova
Ania Kosmalska sees the same sunrise every morning — even with the curtains closed. That’s because she made it herself, in the form of an alarm clock with color-changing lighting strips. First it glows red, then orange, then yellow... Crafting her very own sunrise only took a couple days.
Ania (which is a pet name for Anna) discovered her passion for technology at an early age. Math and physics were her favorite subjects at school. She studied computer science, and later automation and robotics in Warsaw. During her studies, she started to take an interest in robots. That was also when she first heard about autonomous driving. "I thought, this could change our lives." Since 2019, she has been researching resilient cloud-based systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS. Among other things, she’s working on an automated parking system. "I don’t think parking is the most important thing in people’s lives, but it’s an example we can use to make systems safer." The 28-year-old would automate her whole day if she could — cooking, shopping, cleaning. With a smart robot for every task, people would be free from mundane chores and could concentrate on more interesting and creative things.
New inventions for the future
For Ania, the most fascinating aspect of her research work is designing things that don’t yet exist, but will shape the future. Her goal is always to come up with something that can be used in real life. "Not this year, not next year, but at some point." The problem isn’t the technology, Ania says, but rather convincing people to trust the technology. She doesn’t find this difficult herself, because she knows how the system has been created.
When it comes to the devices she makes herself, she doesn’t need to wait until people are ready for new technology. Together with her husband, she uses a computer program to design various everyday objects, like a small robot, for example — or that sunrise alarm clock. "I have a box full of cables and a whole bunch of ideas — but no time," says Ania. "You don’t get a lot of free time when you have a one-year-old daughter."
Despite that, she never runs out of ideas. For her next project, Ania is planning a time-management tool: a cube with a different activity written on each side. When she places the cube on a particular side, an app on her smartphone will measure the amount of time she spends on that activity.
Apart from getting creative with cables, Ania would like to use her spare time to travel more. After a year and a half in Germany, the Polish native hasn’t been to any big cities other than Munich — and still hasn’t had a chance to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. She also wants to improve her German, and has a particular appreciation for how much detail the language can convey. For example, her German business card specifies that she is a female research fellow. In Poland, however, she would share the same descriptor as a male research fellow.
Meet our employees
Would you like to learn more about your colleagues at Fraunhofer IKS? Then take a look at the other portraits: To the employee portraits.