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  • The Digital Silk Road (DSR) an economic initiative launched by China in 2015 is a key component of the country's broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Its primary aim is to extend China's influence through digital and technological means globally, including the Central and Eastern Europe region, the CEE.

    Research by Ágnes Szunomár of the Corvinus University of Budapest and Institute of World Economics in Hungary in the European Journal of International Management has looked at how the initiative seeks to integrate Chinese technologies and standards into the digital ecosystems of various countries. Ultimately, the DSR will open up new markets around the world to Chinese companies. Szunomár's work shows how this expansion has been met with a mixed response across the CEE. Of concern are the balance of economic, political, and security considerations facing the region as China expands its global reach.

    One of the major concerns surrounding the DSR is the increased involvement of Chinese companies in the development, installation, implementation, and maintenance of critical digital infrastructure. European countries are concerned that there could be not only a loss of industrial competitiveness, but increased dependence on China. Moreover, there is the worry that the Chinese government may well have ultimate control of such companies. There are thus national security issues to be considered as well as lower-level, but important, threats to privacy and security at the industrial and personal level. Given the potential for China to have control over the flow of data through the infrastructure its companies build these concerns may well be warranted.

    The research touches on the growing economic presence in Europe of Chinese companies over the past two decades. Indeed, the European Union (EU) has designated China as a systemic rival. Although across the broader CEE, reactions to the DSR and Chinese technology companies varies enormously. Many CEE countries share the general European and, indeed, American concerns about Chinese influence. However, Hungary and Serbia are I seems more accepting and receptive to Chinese investment and technology. These countries see the low-cost telecommunications equipment offered by Chinese firms as presenting them with an opportunity for greater national economic growth and technological advancement.

    In contrast, Czechia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania are among the more sceptical of Chinese advances and in some ways are in outright opposition. These countries are aligned more closely with the US and EU positions, in particular on the notion of digital sovereignty and cellular broadband, 5G, security.

    Szunomár has looked at why there are such disparate responses to Chinese advances. Inevitably, those countries that prioritize security concerns and are aligned with the US and EU stance, tend to show greater opposition to the involvement of Chinese technology. The counties that are happy to take the perceived risks in favour of economic advancement are thus emboldened to accept greater participation from China in their technological affairs.

    Szunomár, Á. (2024) 'To connect or not to connect? Responding to the Digital Silk Road in Central and Eastern Europe', European J. International Management, Vol. 23, Nos. 2/3, pp.344-363.
    DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2024.138658

  • A study from Japan published in the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology reveals a way to optimize the composition of functionally graded materials (FGMs). FGMs are advanced composite materials with a gradual variation in composition and properties across their volume, designed to optimize performance under specific loading conditions. The work could be used to mitigate residual thermal stress in uniformly cooled, multi-layered FGM plates allowing them to cope better with the significant thermal cycles found in aerospace applications and in the power generation industry.

    Ryoichi Chiba of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Sanyo-Onoda City University has used what are referred to as black-box optimization (BBO) techniques within the open-source framework Optuna to carry out the investigation. Optuna is known as a user-friendly interface, ideal for complex such optimization tasks. Chiba has used three Optuna algorithms: the tree-structured Parzen estimator (TPE), the covariance matrix adaptation evolutionary strategy (CMA-ES), and the non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm II (NSGA-II). Each of these algorithms offers a unique approach to optimization, with TPE focusing on rapid convergence, and CMA-ES and NSGA-II on evolutionary strategies.

    The optimization of FGMs has always proved a tough task as there are so many variables at play in their design and production any one of which might have a significant positive or negative impact on their properties. Chiba explains that the CMA-ES algorithm worked best. While TPE converged quickly on a solution, its optimization quality was not as high as the more thorough evolutionary approaches of CMA-ES and NSGA-II. There were, the work shows, problems that can arise in attempting to account for interactions between design variables that were sometimes counterproductive leading to a more complicated optimization rather than an enhanced process.

    Chiba, R. (2024) 'Comparing open-source optimisation algorithms for functionally graded material design: a thermoelastic case study', Int. J. Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp.1–12.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCAET.2024.138652

  • A new approach to searching through video content has been developed by a team in South Korea. The system, described in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, extracts spoken word from a video recording, converts it to text, and then makes that text searchable. Importantly, the system thus does not rely on embedded keywords nor curated tags or hashtags to be associated with the video content.

    The approach obviously relies on the dialogue or spoken commentary of an item being associated with the scenes in the video that users might wish to search. It is, of course, superfluous if the video has subtitles already baked in. Nevertheless, it will be a boon for users wishing to search the millions of hours of video available in databases, on streaming services, and elsewhere on the internet and could be used to help catalogue videos.

    Kitae Hwang, In Hwan Jung, and Jae Moon Lee of the School of Computer Engineering at Hansung University in Seoul, have developed an Android app for use with appropriate smartphones. It is worth noting, however, that there is at least one other app with the same name, so should this app be made available in the Google Play Store for Android apps, it is likely to require a change of name.

    The new app works by extracting audio from videos using the FFmpeg code and converting it into text in ten-second increments. This, the team explains, creates a searchable timeline for the video. Advanced speech recognition technology then generates a transcription of those audio segments, which are indexed on the video timeline. For a 20-minute video, the process is complete in just two to three minutes and runs in the background while the video plays. The team points out that users can then search for specific terms and find all mentions in the video.

    The app will have applications in education, news analysis, and other information-dense video where quick access to specific information is needed. For instance, students reviewing lecture recordings or journalists searching for specific statements in interviews could make use of this app. There are many more scenarios where it would be useful to be able to search video in this manner.

    Hwang, K., Jung, I.H. and Lee, J.M. (2024) 'An implementation of searchable video player', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.325–337.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCVR.2024.138324

  • Could permeable and high-albedo materials for road surfaces that replace asphalt across towns and cities reduce the urban heat island effect at the height of summer as well as reducing the risk of flash floods and groundwater depletion? An idea in the International Journal of Student Project Reporting hopes to answer that very question.

    Julianna Syros, Alexander Villiers, Ginger Arnold, Bryan De La Paz, and Trevor Fai of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, USA, allude to how urbanization has become synonymous with progress, bringing with it modern amenities, economic growth, and improved living standards. However, this expansion has brought with it serious environmental challenges, notably flash floods, groundwater depletion, and the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. These issues largely arise from the extensive use of impermeable materials like asphalt in road construction, revealing a critical need to rethink our choices when it comes to transport infrastructure.

    Asphalt is relatively low cost when compared to concrete and so has become the primary material used in road surfacing in urban areas the world over. However, this preference comes at a significant environmental cost. The impermeable nature of asphalt prevents rainwater from being absorbed into the ground, leading to rapid runoff and flash floods. This runoff can carry pollutants to water bodies and also hinders groundwater recharge, depleting vital water resources.

    Moreover, asphalt's heat-absorbing properties contribute to the heat island effect. This effect sees urban areas experiencing higher temperatures than their rural counterparts, a problem that will become increasingly worrying as global temperature rises through climate change. The phenomenon is largely driven by the high density of heat-absorbing surfaces, such as roads and buildings, which trap heat and only slowly release it from the "island" as a whole. For towns and cities in hot countries and those facing increasingly common temperature spikes, the effect is to increase urban energy demands as those living and working there rely more and more on air conditioning to keep cool. Those without access that luxury will suffer the heat, which could lead to health problems and increased fatalities among the vulnerable during a heatwave.

    Concrete, despite its higher upfront cost, presents a viable alternative with long-term benefits. Unlike asphalt, concrete is more durable and requires less maintenance, leading to lower costs over its lifespan. Furthermore, concrete can be designed to be permeable, allowing water to percolate through and recharge groundwater, thereby mitigating flash floods. High-albedo (reflective) concrete surfaces can also reflect more sunlight, reducing heat absorption and alleviating the UHI effect.

    The team suggests that overcoming the societal and economic barriers are essential if sustainable transport infrastructure is to be developed to address the increasingly detrimental effects of urbanization. Investment may well attract greater initial costs, but in the long-term fewer flash floods, conservation of groundwater resources, and a significant reduction in the heat island effect would offer immediate payback when compared to sticking to asphalt.

    Syros, J., Villiers, A., Arnold, G., De La Paz, B. and Fai, T. (2024) 'A study on high albedo permeable pavement reducing urban heat islands, flash floods and groundwater depletion', Int. J. Student Project Reporting, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.1–20.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSPR.2024.137963

  • A comprehensive survey by a team from Croatia in the International Journal of Student Project Reporting, has looked at the intersection of art and artificial intelligence (AI). The team has focused on how AI technologies are employed in the classification and also the creation of artworks. Andrej Šimić and Marina Bagić Babac of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb have analysed and categorised a number of research papers in this field to understand the methodologies, techniques, and outcomes in this emerging field. They discuss the two main applications of AI in art: the automated analysis of existing artworks and the generation of new ones.

    AI-based art classification involves using machine learning algorithms to categorise artworks by attributes such as genre, style, and artist. This automated classification improves the ability of art historians and collectors to identify and categorise artworks with greater accuracy and efficiency. Techniques such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have been key in achieving high accuracy in these classification tasks, the team reports. CNNs can identify subtle patterns and features that might be challenging for human analysts to discern, providing deeper insights into the artistic attributes of different works.

    In terms of art creation, the survey explores innovative AI-driven techniques such as style transfer, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), and text-to-image synthesis. Style transfer allows an image to be reinterpreted in the style of another, facilitating creative explorations and new artistic expressions.

    GANs, the team explains, consist of two neural networks working together to generate realistic images. They enable the creation of "novel" artworks with intricate details and often a high degree of realism. Text-to-image synthesis offers a different approach where the AI generates images based on a prompt describing what the user would like to see. This can allow an almost seamless translation of ideas into the visual form.

    The integration of AI in art has several implications. For art analysis, it democratizes access to art historical research and enhances the precision of art authentication and valuation. For art creation, AI provides artists with new tools and sources of inspiration, potentially expanding the scope of creativity. The ability of AI to generate art also raises questions about authorship and originality, challenging traditional notions of creativity. Indeed, the issues of copyright, permissions and plagiarism are high on the agenda in this area and have not yet been settled to everyone's agreement.

    Šimić, A. and Bagić Babac, M. (2024) 'Artificial intelligence in classifying and creating art: a survey', Int. J. Student Project Reporting, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.59–89.
    DOI: 10.1504/137964

  • In social media marketing, where the transmission of messages is incessant, researchers from the UK have investigated the concept of different kinds of message noise, which act as barriers to clear communication by distorting the social media messages.

    Writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, Kimberley Hardcastle, Prabash Edirisingha, and Paul Cook of Northumbria University, Newcastle, explain how they carried out a 21-month study to analyse data from the well-known social media sites Instagram and Twitter, now known as X, based on an analysis of hashtags. Hashtags are keywords used with a hash, #, to help users define the content they post and for other users to find content of interest in a particular area.

    The team identified three main types of message noise: technical, material, and architectural. Technical noise stems from software and hardware limitations, material noise arises from intentional, and perhaps unintentional, design features of platforms and devices, and architectural noise emerges from network interactions.

    The researchers identified five key interception points where message meaning can become distorted on social media. This distortion affects how consumers interpret those incessant messages on their smart devices. In addition, the research shows that the user's choice of communication platform and device can greatly influence how well a message is transmitted and received and subsequently interpreted. Moreover, specific functionality of the platform being used also affects message retrieval and interpretation.

    In practical terms, the findings might help guide digital marketing practitioners. By understanding the nature of material noise marketers can find better ways to help their would-be customers navigate technological barriers. For instance, guiding consumers to access messages across different platforms or encouraging them to develop skills to navigate material noise effectively.

    The work also shows that there has been limitations in our understanding of noise in social media communication so far. The team urges fellow researchers to look more deeply into this area to improve still further our understanding and how they affect human and "non-human" choices made in response to the interpretation of a given message.

    Hardcastle, K., Edirisingha, P. and Cook, P. (2024) 'Identifying sources of noise within the networked interplay of marketing messages in social media communication', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp.164–187.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2024.137920

  • Researchers in India have developed a tool that can estimate the remaining useful life of an otherwise obsolete laptop computer based on quality grading of two of its main components – hard drive and rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The work, published in the International Journal of Process Management and Benchmarking, focused on developing a decision support tool (DST) that could improve sustainable laptop remanufacturing practices.

    Gurunathan Anandh, Shanmugam Prasanna Venkatesan, Sandanam Domnic, and Santosh Awaje of the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, discuss the concept of remanufacturing, the process of disassembling, assessing, and repairing or replacing components to restore functionality to a device. Remanufacturing could be one solution to the environmental and economic challenges we currently face. However, successful remanufacturing needs accurate information about the device's components, which presents its own challenges.

    The team turned to machine-learning algorithms such as Random Forest (RF) to help them predict remaining useful life and K-means clustering for the quality grading of components. The researchers' approach uses well-known spreadsheet software, Microsoft Excel, as its interface and is supplemented with Python scripting. By making such choices, the researchers hope their system should be accessible to practitioners with varying levels of expertise.

    The practical use of the research will fill the gaps needed for improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the laptop remanufacturing process. By using an approach based on data and machine learning, the team suggests that remanufacturing can be guided for the repair, replacement, or necessary disposal of the main components. This would not only reduce waste and give a new lease of life to old equipment but could improve profitability for the companies involved in remanufacturing. The next step will be to extend the method to other laptop components and perhaps to other types of device.

    Anandh, G., Venkatesan, S.P., Domnic, S. and Awaje, S. (2024) 'Remanufacturing of end-of-life laptop based on remaining useful life prediction and quality grading with random forest and cluster analysis', Int. J. Process Management and Benchmarking, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.137–152.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJPMB.2024.138350

  • In the world of fast fashion, New Product Development (NPD) is the main option for companies hoping to maintain relevance and competitiveness in an ever-changing market. NPD is a multifaceted process and covers the generation of ideas, design and implementation of those ideas, prototype and product testing, and eventual launch of a new product on to the market with the aim of capitalizing on emerging market opportunities and addressing consumer needs.

    According to Duong Quang Hao, Ngoc-Hien Do, and Duc Duy Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology in Vietnam writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management, NPD is a complex process and demands a lot of company resources. This is particularly true in industries marked by rapid shifts in consumer preferences and short product lifecycles, such as fashion. However, an alternative approach to NPD has emerged that puts the focus on strategic integration of competitor analysis and customer feedback. This can allow a company to streamline the development processes and improve its competitiveness, especially in the world of start-up ventures.

    A useful tool on this overall streamlining process is the Competitor Profile Matrix (CPM) method. This allows companies to identify and analyse their main competitors. They can dissect their best-selling products to work out what are the important customer preferences at a given time. This initial step in the new NPD process gives them a template for understanding the changing market and allows them to stitch together their own product ideas.

    Once ideas are sewn up, the wily company might then engage directly with its target customer base to gain feedback and gauge preferences. By opting for a customer-centric approach, they can ensure that their new product features and functionalities are going to be welcomed by the market. This will then mitigate the risk of pushing products that end up hemmed in by more competitive offerings and so remain on the fringes of the fashion patchwork rather than becoming the chic pieces everyone wants to be seen to wear.

    While the approach is tailored for start-ups in the fast fashion sector, a similar iterative methodology might also be used across other industries. The strategic integration of competitor analysis and customer feedback into the NPD process offers a pragmatic approach to the modern marketplace.

    Hao, D.Q., Do, N-H. and Nguyen, D.D. (2024) 'New product development in the fast fashion industry: a case study in Vietnam', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp.136–154.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSOM.2024.138601

  • Across commerce, the presence of the smartphone has changed consumer behaviour beyond recognition. This shift is most evident in what might be terms mobile commerce, or m-commerce. Research in the International Journal of Business Information Systems has looked at India, with its rapidly growing smartphone user base, and suggests that the nation is poised to become a major part of the global m-commerce market by 2025.

    K.A. Asraar Ahmed of the VIT-AP University in Andhra Pradesh, India, V.S. Damodharan of the Al Jazirah Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and S. Kumaraperumal of the Rajalakshmi School of Business in Tamil Nadu, India, have looked at the various factors influencing the adoption of mobile coupon applications (apps) among Indian consumers. The team used extended Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology 2 (UTAUT2) model as well as Structural Equation Modelling to analyse the way in which consumers use mobile coupons when shopping online via their smartphones.

    Mobile coupons, or vouchers, offer discounts on purchases and are used directly in one's smartphone at the time of sale. As with web coupons and before them, paper shopping coupons, have become a powerful marketing tool for sellers around the world. Their appeal is evident for consumers, they get an apparent discount on their purchases, but for the sellers, they get the kudos of having offered such a discount, which might lead to subsequent sales. The team points out that in India, smartphone penetration is expected to surpass 1 billion by 2025. As such, the potential for widespread adoption of mobile coupons is enormous.

    The researchers found several key drivers that affected whether consumers used mobile coupon apps in India. These included the perceived value of the discount offered, trust in the security of the online transaction using the coupon, the influence of social networks, concerns regarding privacy and data security, expectations regarding app performance, willingness to embrace innovation, hedonic motivation, and a person's own confidence in using mobile technology effectively. Fundamentally, however, it was price value that was most important, followed closely by trust and external social influence.

    The work thus has implications for marketers and policymakers. For marketers, a better understanding of the various factors influence mobile coupon use can help guide their marketing strategy. For policymakers, understanding the way in which the market is being influenced and the impact on buyers and sellers is important for ensuring safety and security on both sides and allowing for appropriate regulations surrounding this area of commerce.

    Ahmed, K.A.A., Damodharan, V.S. and Kumaraperumal, S. (2024) 'Factors affecting mobile coupon acceptance through smartphone app', Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp.140–164.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2024.138557

  • Research in the International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation has considered the growing concerns regarding financial integrity and transparency and has looked at the concept of financial statement fraud (FSF), how it might be more easily detected, and how it might be prevented. The work results in some practical insights into how fraud risks might be mitigated around the world and shares with implications for the various stakeholders, including regulators, financial analysts, and investors.

    Milad Soltani and Alexios Kythreotis of the European University Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus, and Arash Roshanpoor of the Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran, explain that there is an increasing need for accountability in the wake of contemporary financial scandals. Regulatory measures and laws have been put in place but subsequent crises repeatedly emphasise a need for tougher measures against fraud and greater financial transparency at all levels.

    The team has developed a framework for understanding the factors that contribute to fraudulent behaviour and looked at the efficacy of the fraud triangle for addressing the problem. To do so, the researchers used a meta-analysis of studies in these areas to achieve their three primary objectives. First, they identified effective risk factors for FSF, considering the influence of a nation's characteristics on fraud risks. Secondly, they examined variations in research outcomes, focusing on country-related attributes impacting FSF detection. Thirdly, they have evaluated global fraud risks and propose tailored fraud detection models by clustering countries with similar characteristics.

    There was, the researchers found, a significant difference in fraud risk among countries despite some of them sharing similar characteristics. They say that this suggests a tailored approach to fraud detection models is needed to examine each cluster of countries. Such findings will be important to policymakers, regulators, and financial analysts hoping to develop and implement new targeted measures to fight financial fraud globally.

    Soltani, M., Kythreotis, A. and Roshanpoor, A. (2024) 'The moderate role of national culture and prosperity index on the effectiveness of the fraud triangle to prevent financial statement fraud: a cross-country meta-analysis approach', Int. J. Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, Vol. 20, Nos. 3/4, pp.251–290.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAAPE.2024.138486


International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets is now an open access-only journal

We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets is now an Open Access-only journal. All accepted articles submitted from 15th May 2024 onwards will be Open Access, and will require an article processing charge of US $1600.

Prof. Gustavo Alonso appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Low Radiation

Prof. Gustavo Alonso from the National Institute of Nuclear Research in Mexico has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Low Radiation.

International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems' editorial team calls for papers 

The following invitation comes from Prof. Tuğrul Özel, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems, and his editorial team:

We are the editorial team of the International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems (online ISSN 1753-1047; print ISSN 1753-1039), which is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes four issues per year including open-access articles. We are calling for papers for Vol. 17 No. 4 of the journal, and cordially invite you to submit your manuscripts.

You can view the journal's profile here. Instructions on how to submit papers are available under the Submitting Articles tab on this journal webpage. Free sample articles from the journal are available here.

The International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems is indexed by Scopus, Compendex, Academic OneFile (Gale), cnpLINKer and Expanded Academic ASAP, among others. It has a CiteScore of 1.7 (2022).

Please feel free to share this invitation with your colleagues and associates.

For any queries, please contact Prof. Tuğrul Özel at ozel@rutgers.edu

Best regards,
Editorial team
International Journal of Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems

Associate Prof. Xin Wang appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Signal and Imaging Systems Engineering

Associate Prof. Xin Wang from Shenyang Jianzhu University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Signal and Imaging Systems Engineering.

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index

Inderscience is pleased to announce that the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business has been indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index.

The journal's Editor in Chief, Prof. Leo Dana, thanks his editorial board and IJESB's reviewers for the parts they played in reaching this significant milestone, as well as all the authors who've submitted their research to the journal.