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  • Face recognition has come on apace from a cliched trope of science fiction to a reality of the modern world with widespread use in photography databases, social media, and the security world. However, as with any tool, there are those who would abuse it for nefarious ends. New research published in the International Journal of Biometrics investigates one such aspect of face recognition where a third party might "spoof" the face of a legitimate user to gain access to systems and services to which they are not entitled and offers a suggestion as to how such spoofing might be detected.

    Sandeep Kumar, Sukhwinder Singh, and Jagdish Kumar of the Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh, India, explain how biometrics, including face recognition, has come to the forefront of security in all sorts of realms from the simple accessing of a person's smartphone to securing sensitive premises. The key to precluding face recognition spoofing lies in the determination of whether the face being presented to the security camera or device is "live" or a static photograph or video rather than the actual person.

    The team has turned to an improved SegNet-based architecture that can measure "blur" on the basis of local minimum and maximum left and right edges and calculate blur of horizontal and vertical edges. A flat image such as a photograph or video display presented to a security camera or device would be wholly in focus whereas "depth-of-field" comes into play. With a three-dimensional object, such as a real face, presented to the camera, the eyes would be sharply in focus assuming the camera focused on that part of the face, but the curved sides of the head would be slightly out of focus because they are not in the same plane relative to the camera lens as the eyes. Regardless, it is technically impossible for the whole of a three-dimensional object presented to a camera to be in focus, detecting the blur of parts of the object in front of or behind the focal plane is key to discerning whether a real face is in front of the camera or a flat image.

    The team's proof of principle offers up to 97 percent accuracy, which is an improvement on earlier algorithms when tested against standard benchmarks. Moreover, it can determine the "liveness" of a presented face within about one second. The researchers are now working on improving their system's speculation abilities by looking at shading, another characteristic of a real face that is is obvious to a person looking at a face but difficult for a computer to detect via a camera.

    Kumar, S., Singh, S. and Kumar, J. (2021) 'Face spoofing detection using improved SegNet architecture with a blur estimation technique', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 13, Nos. 2/3, pp.131–149.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBM.2021.114639

  • Although it might be said that there has been malicious writing since our ancestors daubed cave walls with ochre symbols or the very first scribes notched letters into ancient stone tablets, fake news, spam, malicious and threatening words have come to the fore with the advent of our ubiquitous and always-connected digital devices. We might refer to this as "suspicious content".

    New work published in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, developed an optimisation framework for detecting suspicious content in a body of text. The algorithm is built on a biological paradigm – the behaviour of an ant colony.

    The individual members of an ant colony carry out tasks and use pheromones to communicate with other members of the colony. They can solve rather complex problems together even though the individual ants lack the cognitive skills to do so. In computer science, the way in which individual ants behave, each acting as an agent in a problem "space", can be modelled in an ant colony optimization algorithm (ACO). This probabilistic technique simulates the way in which the colony finds solutions to problems such as finding and transporting food via the shortest and safest route from food source to the colony's food store and many other colony activities. Previously, vehicle and internet routing problems have been solved using ACO, but the same approach can be applied to finding solutions to other problems such as detecting patterns of words in a large text corpus, for instance.

    Asha Kumari and Balkishan of the Department of Computer Science and Applications at Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, India, have focused on mobile phone text message content (short messaging service, SMS) and updates on the well-known microblogging social media platform Twitter. Given the ubiquity of these services in everything from entertainment, internet banking, navigation, trading, and other services requiring short messages, it is important to have tools to hand to quickly and accurately detect suspicious content.

    Kumari, A. and Balkishan (2021) 'An ant colony optimisation-based framework for the detection of suspicious content and profile from text corpus', Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.1–24.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJISTA.2021.114637

  • There's an app for that... but which one to choose?

    The growth of software – colloquially known as apps, meaning applications – for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers has been enormous. Well-known apps are easy to find or users learn of them through word-of-mouth. However, searching for a previously unknown app that perfectly fits one's needs is not always straightforward.

    Now, writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems, a team from Algeria and France have developed a new approach to searching for apps that homes in on the functionality the user needs by mining not only the app's description but also the reviews left by users. The team's approach then scores the results offering the user the most relevant app to match their needs. The team describes their proof of principle as effective and able to perform better than the state-of-the-art retrieval models for app retrieval.

    Messaoud Chaa of the University of Bejaia and the Research Center on Scientific and Technical Information, CERIST, colleague CERIST colleague Omar Nouali, Algeria and Patrice Bellot of Aix Marseille University, France, explain that there were around 30 billion app downloads in 2019 and this number is growing with growing smartphone and tablet adoption around the world. In the Google Play Store alone there are almost 3 million apps, while the Apple App Store carries more than 2 million. "An efficient app search system is essential", the team writes and at the present time, there is no perfect tool for searching for the app you need that you don't know exists.

    The team's approach using natural language processing (NLP) allows them to obtain a score for each app and its functions that can be searched by the prospective user and matched more precisely to their needs than a simple app name search might offer.

    Chaa, M., Nouali, O. and Bellot, P. (2021) 'Leveraging app features to improve mobile app retrieval', Int. J. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.177–197.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIIDS.2021.114530

  • A new study in the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets looks at how the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic affect stockmarkets in China and how the "shocks" experienced there were transmitted to the world's largest stockmarkets.

    Naveed Ul Haq and Abid Shirwani of the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan, used a wide range of analytical tools to examine the ebb and flow of value in the long-run and short-term over the period January 2012 to March 2020, which culminated in the announcement of a global pandemic. The tools included unit root test, Johansen cointegration test, vector error correction model, Granger causality test, variance decomposition, and impulse response function test.

    The team observed long-run relationships between stock markets and could clearly see short-run results showing that the previous day's stock prices in Hong Kong and the US had a positive relationship with the Chinese stockmarket. The Granger causality results, however, showed something different – a unidirectional long-run causality from the UK, Hong Kong and Japan to China. In the short-run causality results the effects are bidirectional between China and the world's major stockmarkets.

    The team explains how their findings support the well-known prospect theory or loss-aversion theory, whereby investors are generally more afraid of loss then they are encouraged by a gain. This means that given a choice of two different prospects, investors will generally choose the one that has less chance of ending in a loss rather than the one that offers more gains. In terms of the COVID-19 crisis, the study suggests that it was not the socioeconomic circumstances prior to the pandemic that influenced stockmarket reactions but rather the health policies implemented during the crisis that had the most impact.

    Ul Haq, N. and Shirwani, A.H.K. (2021) 'Examining the impact of coronavirus on stock markets: investigating the cointegration and transmission of shocks between China and the world's largest stock markets', Int. J. Business and Emerging Markets, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.206–232.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBEM.2021.114403

  • A new study from researchers in Denmark and Germany suggests that despite the growing number of women entrepreneurs, numbers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are now adequately represented in this trend. Details of an exploratory study across Denmark, Latvia, and Turkey, are reported in the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, and hope to explain this underrepresentation in STEM.

    Sanita Ármane, Seda Irem Gärtig, and Silke Tegtmeier of the University of Southern Denmark, in Sønderborg and Alexander Brem of the University of Stuttgart, carried out interviews with a number of women entrepreneurs educated in STEM subjects. They uncovered the women's main motivations, the challenges they face, and the support sources on which they rely to glean important advice for future women entrepreneurs as well as for policymakers to increase the number of STEM-educated women entrepreneurs at the national level.

    A recent survey across Europe revealed that only about a third of all the millions of entrepreneurs in the business world are women. This reinforced the long-standing notion that entrepreneurship is a male-dominated field. Moreover, the underrepresentation of women from a STEM background is also rather worrying with most companies run by women not being involved in those areas. Reinforcing a second notion that businesses founded in STEM areas tend to be male-dominated too.

    Many observers have argued that encouraging more women entrepreneurs in STEM-related fields is of great importance in terms of economic growth and an enhancing social status. Moreover, gender diversity at the top of any corporate hierarchy is key to ensuring the diversity of employees, again all to the positive in terms of socioeconomic benefits.

    This new study points to possible reasons for the shortfall in the number of women entrepreneurs from a STEM background and running businesses that work in the areas covered by STEM. The work shows the apparent differences across three nations and offers new advice on how women from a STEM background might be encouraged to seek out and exploit new opportunities as entrepreneurs.

    Ármane, S., Gärtig, S.I., Tegtmeier, S. and Brem, A. (2021) 'STEM educated women entrepreneurs in Denmark, Latvia and Turkey: a context-based explorative study', Int. J. Entrepreneurial Venturing, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.186–216.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEV.2021.114409

  • In this Research Pick, we are highlighting three papers from the International Journal of Web Based Communities that focus on how social media has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in this time of worldwide crisis.

    The first paper discusses how social media and web-based communities in general have responded to the pandemic whereby small groups of worshippers almost overnight converted their usual activities to the online world without much need for intervention from the hierarchy above, as it were. The second offers a personal perspective on the pros and cons, the benefits and challenges of social networking during the pandemic. Finally, the third paper looks at how faith communities have moved online to allow their congregations to continue with their religious endeavours.

    The emergence of a novel coronavirus, dubbed SARS-CoV-2, in late 2019 and its subsequent spread around the world leading to the declaration of the disease it causes, COVID-19, as a pandemic led to many changes in the daily lives of billions of people. Of course, there is the ongoing tragedy of those who suffer serious symptoms and in many cases death, and there is also the ongoing problem of so-called Long-covid, symptoms that seem to persist long after the person has stopped being infectious, such as severe fatigue and significant disruption or loss of one's sense of smell.

    The socioeconomic symptoms of this pandemic have seen enormous changes in working practices, closure of many areas of normal life such as entertainment and hospitality, the disruption of sporting events, and more significantly the failure of many companies and enterprises and lost jobs for those affected.

    We are yet to fully understand what detrimental impact this disease will have on humanity and at the time of writing, new waves of infections underpinned by new, lethal variants of the disease, are overwhelming healthcare systems in Brazil, India, and elsewhere. Many parts of the world remain in lockdown while others that have escaped the worst ravages so far are keeping a weather eye on their borders in the hope of precluding the spread of a new variant in their country.

    The role of social media for the spread of information about COVID-19, vaccination programs, and public awareness of lockdown rules may well have helped reduce the total number of infections and deaths from the earliest and potentially devastating predictions. Moreover, social media and its attendant applications, including video conferencing, have allowed many people to continue their work and maintain family and social connections online in a way that would not be possible without this technology.

    There has been a downside to the so-called "new normal" for many, especially those on the wrong side of the digital divide that have no reliable access to the requisite devices and high-speed internet connections needed to make the most of social media and video conferencing and the like. Even for those with access to the necessary tech, the downside of living one's working life and social life almost exclusively online has exacted a toll on mental health for many people trapped behind a screen and unable to fulfil their old-normal roles in life.

    All three papers cited below are available in IJWBC.

    Isaias, P., Miranda, P. and Pifano, S. (2021) 'Framing social media and web-based communities within the COVID-19 pandemic: enduring social isolation and subsequent deconfinement', Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.120–134.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2021.114450

    Issa, T., Al Jaafari, M., Alqahtani, A.S., Alqahtani, S., Issa, T., Maketo, L. and Pervaiz, S. (2021) 'Benefits and challenges of social networking during COVID-19: personal perspective', Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.135–148.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2021.114446

    Cooper, A-P., Jormanainen, I., Shipepe, A. and Sutinen, E. (2021) 'Faith communities online: Christian churches' reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak', Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.99–119.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2021.114453

  • Space is big business once again, Mars rovers and putative moon landings aside, there is an enormous need for geostationary satellites. With increasing traffic there is also a need for new sites for spaceports that might offer reduced energy costs and simpler launching of new satellites. Writing in the International Journal of Aerospace System Science and Engineering, a team from the Obasanjo Space Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, suggest that African spaceports offer a scientifically and economically viable option.

    Rocket propellant is the main constituent of launch weight largely irrespective of payload. Indeed fuel accounts for 90 percent of the launch cost. As such, any measures that might be put in place to reduce fuel requirements can offer substantial savings. A launch site close to The Equator would offer several benefits in terms of reducing fuel costs. Obviously, a stationary object on the equator is moving at almost 1700 kilometres per hour relative to a "fixed" reference in space because of the rotation of the earth. If you launch from north or south of the equator, this boost is lower. Halfway to the pole and the speed boost is only 1200 km/h. Launch from the poles and the boost is negligible, it's also very cold, which is problematic for many other reasons.

    Sesugh Nongo, Ngunan Ikpaya, and Ikpaya Ikpaya of the National Space Research and Development Agency explain that the global space launch services market is projected to reach more than 30 billion dollars by 2025 with a 15% compounding annual growth rate. The demand comes from governments, scientists, as well as commercial concerns looking to launch small satellites and "constellations". Africa has several spaceports that could be revived to meet this growing launch demand.

    The team points out how spaceports, specialised ground-based facilities built to launch and receive launch vehicles, were largely the preserve of the major industrialised nations until the early 2000s . At that time many developing nations such as Nigeria, India, and South Africa saw the cosmic potential of launching satellites for security and economic development. With the advent of miniaturisation in electronics and engineering, the cost of building the devices to be launched fell considerably, there does, however, remain a need to reduce launch costs. An equatorial spaceport could be part of the solution.

    Nongo, S., Ikpaya, N.M. and Ikpaya, I. (2021) 'Prospects of siting a spaceport in Africa', Int. J. Aerospace System Science and Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.35–54.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJASSE.2021.114151

  • This week, Inderscience Research Picks are focusing on a special issue of the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising dedicated to social media influencers.

    The effects of perception of luxury and consumer envy seem to drive the influencing effect of social media micro-celebrities, whereas consumer purchase intention is not so sharply affected by the online activities, endorsements, and sponsorship deals of mainstream celebrities. This is the basic conclusion of a study from researchers in Qatar and the USA looking at luxury fashion goods.

    Venus Jin of the NU-Q Communication Department at Northwestern University in Doha, Qatar and Aziz Muqaddam of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego, California, USA have looked at the effects of fame and envy in influencing consumers on the photo and video social media platform Instagram.

    Instagram has given celebrities yet another platform through which they can enhance their fame and perhaps their fortune. Conversely, by sharing aesthetically pleasing content, such as attractive "selfies" or presenting glamorous, flawless body images, happy and luxurious lifestyles, a significant number of users have gained some celebrity of their own. "The exponential growth of Instagram and the increase of Instagram stars can be ascribed to social media users' quest for fame and recognition as well as an obsession with idealised self-presentation," the team writes. This new micro-celebrity status provides some degree of power that an everyday user of a website might well never have gained before the advent of social media.

    The new findings could offer scholars of business and marketing with relevant theoretical explanations for certain aspects of consumer psychology in this area. Moreover, there are specific implications for marketing and management on how brand managers and advertising practitioners might utilize the influence of micro-celebrity to good effect in selling more of their product.

    Jin, S.V. and Muqaddam, A. (2021) ''Fame and Envy 2.0' in luxury fashion influencer marketing on Instagram: comparison between mega-celebrities and micro-celebrities', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.176–200
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.114335

  • This week, Inderscience Research Picks are focusing on a special issue of the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising dedicated to social media influencers.

    Digitisation and globalisation mean that today, a large proportion of the world can access content and opinion in an instant and conversely share their own content and opinions just as quickly. The search engines and the social media apps, are the tools with which real news and fake news can spread quickly often in a viral manner. This ubiquitous and always-on stream of information and disinformation has led to the rise of so-called influencers, people who by wit or wisdom have found themselves to be hubs within the network. Nodes that have many, many inbound connections from the world at large over any of whom they might offer a guiding word, for good or bad.

    Álvaro Lopes Dias of the Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon, Portugal, and colleagues have looked at one area of influence that can have a direct impact on the health and wealth of those being influenced – diet trends. Nutritional advice and the various guidelines we are spoon-fed by governments and food companies may or may not be valid scientifically, it is almost impossible to discern for any given individual, we can only generalize through statistical data. Nevertheless, influencers with an agenda, or worse, with a sponsorship deal may well push certain advice in the name of selling a particular product, whether that's a new supplement or superfood. Any specific piece of advice or finding will not apply to everyone but only to the average and may well be harmful to some individuals in the long rung if adhered to without professional medical guidance.

    One might hope that the influencers would be promoting the healthy option, whatever that might be, but Lopes Dias and colleagues suggest that this is not the case. Moreover, the team suggests that regulations should be put in place to control the spread of fake food news, pointless diets and supplements, and to allow only qualified nutritional scientists to have any real influence on dietary guidance, rather than the latest micro-celebrity or health "guru" to gobble up a large following on social media.

    Vasconcelos, C., da Costa, R.L., Dias, Á.L., Pereira, L. and Santos, J.P. (2021) 'Online influencers: healthy food or fake news', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.149–175.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.114334

  • This week, Inderscience Research Picks are focusing on a special issue of the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising dedicated to social media influencers.

    The credibility of digital influencers on YouTube and Instagram is discussed in a paper from Elmira Djafarova of the Faculty of Business and Law at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and Natasha Matson of the Newcastle Business School there. The team has specifically looked at those people who are commonly referred to as micro-celebrities in the realm of beauty on these platforms.

    The team found that for "beauty gurus" trustworthiness is the most important factor determining credibility but the quality of the video and images shared and the "professionalism" of the person's profile is also an important part of the public's perception of a given influencer. In addition, the team found that those influencers using YouTube had the most effect on viewers aged between 18 and 21 years old and was less potent in the older target group, 22-29 year olds. This, they suggest, implies that beauty reference group influence decreases with audience age.

    It has previously been demonstrated that beauty gurus are responsible for all (97.4%) of the conversation and "buzz" surrounding new beauty products. But, there remains a need to understand the credibility and trustworthiness of such people, specifically from the perspective of a company recruiting a beauty guru to assist with a marketing campaign, for instance.

    This latest study offers a cautionary tale for those marketing executives hoping to benefit from the micro-celebrity status of social media influencers:

    Marketers within the beauty industry can take advantage of micro-celebrity influence, but do so carefully to remain credible, especially given the fickle nature of social media in general. They add that beauty brands should not push sponsored content and should instead focus on persuading micro-celebrities to offer endorsements seamlessly through their profiles rather than their content. This, one might suggest, is akin to the classic celebrity endorsement approach. Such endorsements are less questionable to consumers and more likely to be interpreted as credible electronic word-of-mouth whereas a sponsored review or product placement might be perceived as less trustworthy.

    Djafarova, E. and Matson, N. (2021) 'Credibility of digital influencers on YouTube and Instagram', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.131–148.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.114338

News

New Editor for International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science

Prof. Wen-Feng Wang from the Interscience Institute of Management and Technology in India and Shanghai Institute of Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science.

New Editor for Journal of Design Research

Prof. Jouke Verlinden from the University of Antwerp in Belgium has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal of Design Research. The journal's former Editor in Chief, Prof. Renee Wever of Linköping University in Sweden, will remain on the board as Editor.

Inderscience Editor in Chief receives Humboldt Research Award

Inderscience is pleased to announce that Prof. Nilmini Wickramasinghe, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, has won a Humboldt Research Award.

This award is conferred in recognition of the award winner's academic record. Prof. Wickramasinghe will be invited to carry out research projects in collaboration with specialists in Germany.

Inderscience's Editorial Office extends its warmest congratulations to Prof. Wickramasinghe for her achievement, and thanks her for her continuing stellar work on her journals.

Best Reviewer Award announced by International Journal of Environment and Pollution

We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Environment and Pollution has launched a new Best Reviewer Award. The 2020 Award goes to Prof. Steven Hanna of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA. The senior editorial team thanks Prof. Hanna sincerely for his exemplary efforts.

Inderscience new address

As of 1st March 2021, the address of Inderscience in Switzerland will change to:

Inderscience Enterprises Limited
Rue de Pré-Bois 14
Meyrin - 1216
Geneva
SWITZERLAND