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- ASMR alerts for older adults
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a neurological phenomenon experienced in different ways by different people exposed to various stimuli. It is commonly perceived as a pleasant, almost euphoric, feeling. Often described simply as a tingling sensation, paresthesia, it can be much more subtle. Indeed, it is often referred to as "the tingles". The experience of this pleasurable feeling often leaves the person feeling relaxed or alert, depending on the specific stimulus.
Commonly it is felt in the scalp and is often perceived as travelling down the back of the neck and the upper spine. These pleasant feelings are often triggered by certain types of sound, such as a person whispering very closely in one's ear or when seeing certain images. However, it can also be triggered by realizations or epiphanies or when one recognizes pleasure in others, sometimes even when one recognizes one has done a good deed, for instance.
ASMR is a complex phenomenon and in recent years has been used in millions of videos or music where the creator produces content intended to trigger ASMR in the viewer or listener. Indeed, people do often describe music as giving them "the chills", but in the pleasurable sense as opposed to the edgier notion of fear and anxiety associated with a "shiver down the spine". One has to wonder whether these are two faces of the same coin in terms of neurology, however. There is overlap with the concept of frisson, goose bumps and related phenomena. And, of course, goosebumps can also be triggered by pleasure or fear, and perhaps other emotions arising in response to particular stimuli.
Superficially, the phenomenon may seem frivolous, but it perhaps points to how bonding in mammals and other animal groups is reinforced by interactions undertaken in close proximity such as grooming and petting between social contacts, family members, and mates. In the context of interactions between mates, the putatively erotic nature of particular kinds of ASMR triggers is certainly well-known to researchers and those on the internet who might utilize this phenomenon.
Writing in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, a team from Thailand has looked at whether ASMR can have a practical use in helping older people, particularly those with age-related hearing loss. Nattanit Buaban and Sakol Teeravarunyou of King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi in Bangkok, suggest ASMR might be used to grab the attention of someone to alert them to a notification from a device, whether doorbell, smartphone, kettle, washing machine, or alarm, that they otherwise might not notice or hear. In their experiments, an earphone device was used to trigger ASMR, but they added that a touch, haptic, device might also be used. It is early stages, but the team's practical concept for ASMR holds much promise for older people with hearing loss who could, with appropriate smart devices, be notified in this novel way to changes requiring their attention.
Buaban, N. and Teeravarunyou, S. (2022) 'Autonomous sensory meridian response as an alert trigger for older users', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.389–401.
- Wearable fitness devices
Wearable fitness devices have become very popular among people hoping to improve their health. They can be used to monitor activities such as walking, running, and cycling, plotting routes, recording speed, hills and valleys. Some can monitor pulse rate and other physiological factors, estimating "calories" burned and other such results. Once a purchase has been made, it would be interesting to know from the marketing and commercial perspective whether those who adopt this technology later upgrade their device or even switch allegiance to another brand.
Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, an international team from Indonesia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have looked at switching behaviour among users of wearable fitness devices.
Jengchung Victor Chen and Nguyen Thi Lien of the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan, Quang-An Ha of the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Andree E. Widjaja of the Universitas Pelita Harapan in Banten, Indonesia, point out that this market is growing rapidly and is very competitive with sophisticated offerings from many manufacturers. Research into the market has looked mainly at the early adoption of the technology. The current work has considered how users adapt once they have adopted and when and how they switch to other devices once they are familiar with their original purchase and wish to upgrade.
The team has used the so-called "push-pull-mooring" framework to look at how users adopt and adapt in this market. They discuss low enjoyment and low satisfaction as push effects that drive users away from their initial purchase and make them switch to another model or brand of wearable fitness device. They consider greater attractiveness, better health benefits, and subjective norm as pull effects away from their original purchase and towards other devices. Mooring effects, they add, such as switching cost, maintain the status quo.
The team found that various factors would push and pull users. A lack of enjoyment with a given device would drive switching while all the various push and pull factors would have an impact on switching intention, despite the additional cost. The findings could help guide manufacturers and their marketing departments to improve their products but also to increase brand loyalty so that a user who intends to switch is not pushed nor pulled towards a different manufacturer but maintains their loyalty to the original brand when they upgrade to a new model.
Chen, J.V., Ha, Q-A., Widjaja, A.E. and Lien, N.T. (2023) 'To switch or not to switch? Investigating users' switching behaviours of fitness wearable devices', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.95–118.
- Making better photos
Removing noise, sharpening blurred areas, increasing resolution, and smoothing areas of similar tone are all useful in improving the quality of a digital photo. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, a team from China discusses their novel approach to image enhancement using skin-colour segmentation and smoothness.
Haitao Sang, Bo Chen and Shifeng Chen of the College of Information Engineering at Lingnan Normal University in Zhanjiang and Li Yan of the College of Science at Guangdong University of Petrochemical Technology in Maoming explain how their enhancement algorithm is based on skin texture preservation and works with a mask so that hair detail is preserved during the smoothing and denoising. The mask is created using Gaussian fitting that detects and then feathers the edges of the skin areas in the photo.
Their tests show the algorithm to work more effectively than other approaches. It has a strong adaptive capacity and significantly improves portraits without creating artifacts in the image that would make it obvious changes had been made artificially. In the world of photographic art, magazine publishing, advertising, and in the literature of many other areas, photographic quality is often key to a successful presentation and so tools to improve photographic quality during production are keenly sought by designers of such materials. This is especially the case where a unique photo is available only in a low-quality format. The ultimate aim would be to use machine learning to do the drudge work to improve the quality in an automated fashion and so free up time and resources for the designer to apply their creativity.
Sang, H., Chen, B., Chen, S. and Yan, L. (2023) 'Image enhancement based on skin-colour segmentation and smoothness', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.1–20.
- Digital payback for the generation gap
Research in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing looks at the difference of opinion between Generation Y and Generation Z in the adoption of digital payments. They found that people in the older group were less tolerant of risks associated with digital payment and were more prone to social environmental influences whereas those in the younger group were more concerned with ease of use and satisfaction with the process.
Irfan Fadhilah and Daniel Tumpal H. Aruan of the Department of Management at the University of Indonesia in Depok had various hypotheses regarding the adoption of digital payments and surveyed two demographics to understand better the differences in attitudes. Their findings offer new insights into the world of digital payments that can feed back into research in this area and ultimately help direct the further development of the requisite technology.
Digital payments have become a popular alternative to cash or card among many smartphone users. They can link their bank account to an app on their mobile device and quickly and easily make payments for goods and services in a wide variety of settings. It is often assumed that younger people will be the early adopters when it comes to new technology. There might, of course, be subtle differences between the younger age groups.
People in Generation Y are colloquially referred to as "millennials" and are usually defined as being born in the approximate period 1981 to 1996. They are commonly the offspring of Baby Boomers or Generation X, which encompasses those born 1946 to 1964 and 1965 to 1980. Generation Z encompasses those born from 1997 to the early 2010s. This group is often considered to be the first "digital natives" as they were born after the advent of the world-wide web, near-ubiquitous internet access, and easy access to connected mobile devices.
The team's findings corroborate earlier research and once again show that younger people are more likely to adopt the novel technology of digital payments whereas the older group is generally happier to use cash and card. The team suggests that their findings could guide those in the technology and banking sectors to market their services more appropriately to the older group based on their revealed attitudes and opinions regarding digital payments.
Fadhilah, I. and Aruan, D.T.H. (2023) 'Understanding consumer adoption and actual usage of digital payment instruments: comparison between Generation Y and Generation Z', Int. J. Electronic Marketing and Retailing, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.39–60.
- Music as diplomatic food for thought
Music has been at the heart of humanity for millennia. It allows us to express and share emotions in ways that are often difficult or impossible with spoken language. While musical tastes can vary from culture to culture there is the potential for ameliorating relationship problems through music, perhaps even at the level of international diplomacy. That is the suggestion posited in the International Journal of Public Law and Policy.
Mayank Mishra of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India, has looked at how music might act as a diplomatic conduit through which relations between India and Pakistan might be improved. In this paper, Mishra traces the evolution of music and its role in bilateral politics, as well as the day-to-day lives of the people of both countries. Where political language and discussion are fraught with the problems of misinformation and the misconstrual of what is said between two parties, music offers a shared diplomacy through its long cultural legacy in this part of the world.
Where diplomacy can be delicate, often it fails if compromise and contrition cannot be formulated in the discussions when each side faces challenges. Problems often arise where there are differences of opinion rooted in differences in culture, beliefs, knowledge, morals, laws, and, even art. However, where art, and music as one form of art, stands alone from those cultural roots it is perhaps in the potential for shared appreciation of music regardless of differences in other cultural traits.
This is not to say that music can reconcile geographical, territorial, and political differences, but through education and exchange there is the potential to highlight and appreciate its shared legacy and perhaps build on the trust the music can bring to us to allow diplomatic discussions to progress on an even footing to the benefit of all parties. Music could help advance not national interests but communication and compromise generating the much-needed goodwill to allow parties with conflicting perspectives on the challenges to come together more readily.
Mishra, M. (2023) 'Instrumentality of music in cultural diplomacy between India and Pakistan', Int. J. Public Law and Policy, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.75–91.
- Transport solutions for health
A team from Brazil has looked at the different stresses on the human body when walking, cycling, and driving. Their findings suggest that taking non-motorised trips is the best option in terms of health and wellbeing.
Wesley Cândido de Melo, Augusto César de Mendonça Brasil, and Rita de Cássia Silva of the Transport Graduate Program at the University of Brasília-UnB, Campus Darcy Ribeiro in Brasília discuss details in the World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research. The team examined data from volunteers – blood pressure, galvanic skin response, pulse, and breathing rate while the volunteers walked, cycled, or drove from their homes to the University of Brasília in the early morning and late afternoon along six dedicated routes for walking, cycling, and driving.
Motor transport is a growing problem in big cities in terms of congestion, pollution, and a reduction in the number of people experiencing the health benefits of self-propulsion, whether walking or cycling. Cities built to a plan based in a 1950s ethos are especially problematic in this sense as those cities were commonly designed for cars rather than pedestrians and cyclists. Rebooting and rerouting those cities will take time, money, and effort to open up the healthier route. Brasília has well over one motor vehicle for every two people in the city. However, the city also now has almost 300 miles of cycle paths. Walking and cycling offer health benefits and potentially lower stress levels than driving.
"The results show that non-motorised trips are less stressful than motorised ones, proving that when walking and cycling the traveller is free to obtain the best body conditions to reduce effort and stress, a fact explained by the cost of the minimum specific energy used during the shift," the team writes.
de Melo, W.C., de Mendonça Brasil, A.C. and de Cássia Silva, R. (2022) 'Assessment of human physiology as indicators of stress when driving, biking and walking', World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, Vol. 11, No. 2.
- Job satisfaction and the work-life balance
How does job satisfaction sit with the notion of work-life balance? Writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management, a research team from Portugal point out that a positive and stable work environment can improve an employee's sense of belonging in an organisation. In parallel with such a concept, they say that can enhance commitment. The counterpoint is that this commitment and belonging should perhaps be balanced by freedom to have an active and enjoyable personal life outside of work too. However, it was not known whether the various factors connect in a positive way.
Álvaro Dias of the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias/TRIE, Carolina Feixeira of ISG Business and Economics, Leandro Pereira, Renato Lopes da Costa, and Rui Gonçalves of the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, all in Lisboa, Portugal, carried out a quantitative study of survey results from workers. They found that workplace environment positively affects job satisfaction. However, perhaps surprisingly, they found that organisational commitment did not correlate with the workers' balance between professional and personal life.
For many workers, professional and personal life is entwined more than ever. Gone are the days of people physically and figuratively clocking in and clocking off. Work pressures spill over into our free time more and more and this issue is exacerbated by the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and the inevitable expectation to respond instantaneously to any notification whether professional or personal.
Job satisfaction is only one component of a person's mental well-being, there has to be satisfaction outside the workplace and there has to be a sturdier dividing line between professional and personal activities if a worker is to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance. It was hypothesised that somehow improving the workplace environment, which does seem to improve job satisfaction would also improve well-being associated with work-life balance. However, the team's results suggest that this is not the case. They also add that for teleworkers and homeworkers, the issues that might exist are complicated still further where the borders between personal and professional life may well be more diffuse given that the daily commute might be just a few minutes from the living room to home office as opposed to a distinct journey from home to workplace.
Dias, Á., Feixeira, C., Pereira, L., da Costa, R.L. and Gonçalves, R. (2022) 'The work-life balance and job satisfaction', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp.401–420.
- Better biodiesel
Is biodiesel truly a viable and sustainable alternative to diesel fuels derived from fossil fuels? Writing in the International Journal of Design Engineering, a team from India investigates and comes to the conclusion that the nature of biodiesel as renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic does indeed make it a good alternative to petrochemical fuels.
Sanjay Patel and P.K. Brahmbhatt, both affiliated with Gujarat Technological University in Ahmedabad, point out that conventional diesel fuel remains one of the primary fuels for transport and many other applications. However, as with all fossil fuels, its use comes at a cost in terms of pollution, particulates, carbon emissions, and, of course, the fact that it is derived from a limited resource, oil.
Biodiesel as an alternative to conventional diesel has come to the fore in recent years as a renewable, and perhaps sustainable choice for transport. Many buses and other vehicles worldwide are now powered with biodiesel derived from biomass, either generated from waste or from crops grown for the purpose of biodiesel production. There have been concerns over the years that biodiesel was somehow less efficient than conventional diesel. Moreover, there were also concerns regarding carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides formation from biodiesel.
The team suggests that with modern biodiesel technology, these concerns are unfounded in terms of emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases. The higher oxygen content of biodiesel allows for improved combustion despite the lower calorific value of fuels derived from vegetable matter. However, the presence of oxygen in the fuel itself, while improving combustion raises the cylinder temperature in a diesel engine and so there is a greater concentration of nitrogen oxides produced in the exhaust gases of a biodiesel-powered engine.
This comprehensive review points to the many benefits and highlights how some of the issues surrounding biodiesel use can be circumvented by the use of blended fuels. These also have the advantage of not requiring any modification of the engine itself prior to use, something that has been an issue with standard biodiesel fuels.
Patel, S. and Brahmbhatt, P.K. (2022) 'Comprehensive review of biodiesel as an alternative fuel for diesel engines', Int. J. Design Engineering, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.61–76.
- Safer touch with antiviral coatings
Antiviral coatings based on nanomaterials could help reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, according to new work in the International Journal of Surface Science and Engineering. The Indian team has reviewed the state-of-the-art in the context of COVID-19.
We now know the causative agent in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, is most commonly transmitted through the air from coughs and sneezes, and even just the talking and breathing of one infected person to another. However, a secondary path for transmission involves, fomites, droplets containing viral particles that have impinged on a surface that another person may touch and so pick up the infection.
Manoj Raula and Sucheta Sengupta of Amity University in Noida, India, have reviewed nanomaterials that might be used to coat surfaces that people commonly touch in the work environment, in public places, and even in the home. Nanocoatings have been developed to coat glass and plastic as well as cotton fabrics, for instance. The team's review covers metal and metal oxide nanomaterials and how they might be used as antiviral coatings. Examples of nanoparticles being studied include precious metal nanoparticles, gold, silver, and copper, as well as materials such as perovskites.
While the world of antibacterial coatings has moved rapidly in recent years, it was the advent of COVID-19 that provided an initial motivation for the development of antiviral coatings. Such materials could have wide-ranging efficacy against other viruses, such as influenza viruses too. Events and circumstances have overtaken our concerns regarding COVID-19 transmission, however, innovation in antiviral coatings will not be wasted given the likelihood of as yet unimagined future emerging viruses exploiting fomites as a major route for their transmission.
Raula, M. and Sengupta, S. (2022) 'Recent development of antiviral nano-coatings for COVID-19 management – a review', Int. J. Surface Science and Engineering, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp.317–334.
- Detecting stress and anxiety in a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a lot of people being forced to spend more time at home, often working from home, but also essentially isolated in their homes in order to reduce the risk of spreading or catching the disease. Computer games were perhaps a blessed relief from the potential boredom of enforced indoor life and no doubt many people enjoyed the experience. Gaming and reduce stress and anxiety. However, there is a flipside in that beyond a certain point the gaming itself can sometimes reverse that relief and induce stress and anxiety.
Writing in the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control, a team from India investigated the emotional response to gaming to ascertain whether there is a positive or a negative net gain. They used a deep-learning algorithm to analyse and classify electroencephalographic signals from gamers while engaged in playing. The algorithm outperformed other approaches to accurately classifying the gamers' emotions. Indeed, the gaming scenario provides the stressors to allow them to train their algorithm to detect emotions and once trained it might in the future be used as a suppressed emotion detector in scenarious other than the computer gaming environment.
Stress and anxiety are generally considered negative emotions by definition, although they do have their place in a balanced life experience, one might suggest. Anxiety can be perceived as excitement in many contexts, which is normally considered a positive emotion, while stress may well be associated with motivation and drive, again a positive. Too much stress and anxiety, however, over prolonged periods, such as a pandemic, are generally not thought of as desirable in the context of good mental and physical health. There is the potential for serious harm if chronic stress and anxiety are not addressed and, of course, concerns about the person exposed or suffering from them to pursue detrimental life choices.
Ahona Ghosh and Sriparna Saha of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology in West Bengal, India, being well aware of the problems of chronic stress and anxiety hope their work will allow those studying stress an anxiety to non-invasive investigate these emotions in various circumstances and so perhaps develop guidance and interventions, perhaps associated with gaming, to help people in different walks of life, especially during a global crisis such as a pandemic.
Ghosh, A. and Saha, S. (2022) 'Suppression of positive emotions during pandemic era: a deep learning framework for rehabilitation', Int. J. Modelling, Identification and Control, Vol. 41, Nos. 1/2, pp.143–154.
International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index
Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising has been indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index.
Prof. Jesús Garcia-Madariaga, the journal's Editor in Chief, says, "IJIMA's inclusion in ESCI is a quality marker for “editorial rigor and best practice at a journal level”, and also an important milestone on the way to being added to the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and receiving an impact factor. I would like to thank IJIMA's authors and readers for the trust they have placed in the journal. Congratulations and thanks also go to IJIMA's editorial board, led by its executive and associate editors, for their hard work in getting IJIMA off the ground and publishing the high-quality issues that have led to this significant milestone."
Prof. Simona Catuogno appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism
Prof. Simona Catuogno from Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism.
International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index
Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that the International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation has been indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index.
Prof. Gwo-Jen Hwang, Editor in Chief of the journal, says, "I would like to thank all of the Editorial Board Members as well as the authors and reviewers for their contributions to the International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation. IJMLO aims to publish high-quality studies reporting the use of mobile technology in school settings and professional training. With the help of the Board, it has become the most representative journal in this field, and will continue to publish innovative and important findings to the readers."
International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index
Inderscience is pleased to announce that the International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology has been indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index.
Prof. Saeid Eslamian, Editor in Chief of the journal, says, "The International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology began in 2011 with a publication frequency of two issues per year, and now publishes eight issues annually. It was indexed by Scopus in 2013 and is now also indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index. I deeply appreciate the great assistance of IJHST's Editorial Board Members in promoting the journal for more than a decade. I would also like to thank the journal's authors across the world for sharing their experiences by submitting outstanding articles to IJHST."
New Editor for International Journal of Healthcare Policy
Associate Prof. Julius Mugwagwa from University College London in the UK has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Healthcare Policy.