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  • There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

    There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

    AI representation of someone using assistive tecnhology on their phone

    Writing in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Hyung Nam Kim of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, discusses user perspectives and the state of digital privacy issues in this realm. He has carried out a small-scale survey of users with visual impairments who use this technology and associated software.

    The survey revealed that very few users had much knowledge of the privacy policies and potential risks of using assistive technology and were generally unaware of the potential issues that might arise with privacy and security breaches of personal information. Kim has developed the research to help form a conceptual framework that could be used to help researchers and professionals in this field to provide better support and education for those with visual impairment relying on this technology in their everyday lives, whether at work, in public, or even in the home.

    Given that a significant proportion of people with visual impairments in the USA are just as likely as fully sighted people to use and engage with social media sites such as Facebook, there is a pressing need to improve and enhance their privacy awareness given the additional layer of risk they must face in using extra software to interact and engage online and so remain independent.

    Kim, H.N. (2023) 'Digital privacy of smartphone camera-based assistive technology for users with visual disabilities', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.66–84.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2022.10051733

  • Research in the International Journal of Arts and Technology has looked at how generative adversarial networks (GANs) might be used to transform an artistic image with a given style into a similar image with a different style. For example, a Western abstract transformed into a Chinese figurative image. Tests with this type of artificial intelligence, AI, and the results of questionnaires about the generated art reveal how people in the East and West might perceive artistic style differently when presented with such images. The work might also help us understand art appreciation, concept of beauty and whether or not AI can somehow "understand" art in a parallel manner.

    Mai Cong Hung of Osaka University and Ryohei Nakatsu, Naoko Tosa, and Takashi Kusumi of Kyoto University, Japan, explain how a new paradigm in AI – big data + deep learning – has emerged. This approach to AI is developing rapidly with many positive results and benefits to those in the field and beyond. There is always the underlying notion that given that the neural networks used in AI are based on our brains there might be some parallels with how these networks function with our own thought processes. Indeed, AI has surpassed human ability in some areas, for instance in playing Shogi (Japanese chess) and Go. These are games of logic and planning but the question arises as to whether AI can compare in terms of creativity and art.

    The team found that by converting one artistic image into the style of another artist there were able to anonymise the image so that the viewers' perception of the image was not coloured by preconceived notions about the artist. They found that volunteers perceived an original abstract artwork by Kandinsky transformed to look like a new abstract painting by one of the authors to be similar in characteristics. They suggest that this might suggest that Western abstract art and Eastern figurative art have very close parallels. It may be that they are essentially interchangeable semantically. They do concede that at this point it is not possible to automatically determine the origins of the original artwork as being from the Western tradition or the Eastern.

    Hung, M.C., Nakatsu, R., Tosa, N. and Kusumi, T. (2022) 'Learning of art style using AI and its evaluation based on psychological experiments', Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.171–191.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2022.10045168

  • We know that bees are important to natural ecosystems and also to human agriculture and horticulture. They are great pollinators of so plant flowering plant species and are also a source of food and materials we have used for thousands of years, namely honey, honeycomb, and beeswax.

    Here's the sting in the tale though. Bees are in decline. The problem is partly due to habitat and climate change but also because of our growing reliance on pesticides for food production. Conservation and rewilding efforts are often stymied by building construction. So, what if we could incorporate bee-friendly habitats into those very buildings?

    Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Design, a UK research team discusses the design of a bee brick, which can be incorporated into the stonework of a new building, or perhaps even replace some bricks in older buildings. The bee brick is aimed at providing habitat for solitary bees, which are far more common pollinators than the more familiar honeybee.

    Kate Christman and Laura Hodsdon of Falmouth University's Penryn Campus and Rosalind Shaw of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, explain that there are some 250 species of bee in the UK. 9 out of every 10 of these species is a solitary bee species, one that does not congregate and swarm with its own kind to build and maintain a hive. And, of the solitary bees around one in twenty makes its nest in a cavity. Creating suitable habitats for these master pollinators should be a priority in construction, especially given that the incorporation of suitable cavities in a number of bricks used in a building could be done relatively easily.

    The team's bee brick is a "fit and forget" component of construction. There is no ongoing maintenance and the solitary bees will find the bricks, use them to test and represent no threat to the occupants of the building. The team's design has to be durable and strong enough, of course, to substitute for a standard building brick. It would benefit from being low-cost and made from recycled materials.

    As such, china clay waste found in abundance in Cornwall is the material of choice the team suggests. Add some granite aggregate and cement as a binder, and the team had the right recipe for their bee brick. Each bee brick has 18 cavities moulded part-way into the otherwise solid structure. There is the potential to have different colours to fit more aesthetically with a given construction project or even to highlight the presence of the bee bricks in a site.

    The team explains that "The Bee Brick provides a nesting site for solitary bees, adapting and rethinking how existing building components are used. Made using locally sourced recycled materials, it offers the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity."

    Christman, K., Shaw, R. and Hodsdon, L. (2022) 'The Bee Brick: building habitat for solitary bees', Int. J. Sustainable Design, Vol. 4, Nos. 3/4, pp.285–304.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSDES.2022.10052860

  • As we sit once more on the cusp of major change in our world with the advent of machine learning, algorithm-driven decision-making, and so-called artificial intelligence, it is time once again to ask a question that piqued commentators during the industrial revolution of the 19th Century: Does social change drive technological innovation or is the path taken by society determined by new technology.

    Writing in the European Journal of International Management, Fred Phillips of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, USA, suggests that there is no need to answer such a question. Indeed, given that it can be argued perfectly well that both perspectives are true and that both perspectives are false, it is time for us to recognise that society and technology form a continuous feedback loop with each other. A nudge from one, leads to a change in the other, but that change then drives additional in the other and so on. We can thus say goodbye to determinism and welcome the circle of innovation.

    The nuances of each deterministic viewpoint – society driving technological change and technology leading to societal change – were noticed by Schumpeter in 1943 who argued for a feedback cycle to explain change. However, most research since has been divisive talking of a social determinism or technological determinism as if the two paradigms could somehow exist in isolation. Phillips argues that we must now recognise the feedback loops as underpinning change and innovation. Such recognition could provide a clearer vision for innovators and technologists, policymakers and economists, businesses and society.

    Phillips points out that our current technology and the nature of society today allow us to see more clearly the feedback cycles that underpin both and to override the linguistic biases that lead us into deterministic deadends when we could instead be rolling forward.

    Phillips, F. (2023) 'Goodbye to determinism: the circle of innovation', European J. International Management, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.295–306.
    DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2020.10021762

  • There are many different forms of autoimmune disease, but by definition they all have one thing in common – they arise when the body's immunological defences go awry and attack our cells or trigger biochemical changes that lead to inflammation and other responses that can be detrimental to our health. There are at least 150 different autoimmune diseases, some of them have the status of rare disease while others, such as Type I diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease are quite common.

    Research in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications has looked at several autoimmune diseases using bioinformatics to help improve our understanding of these important diseases.

    Durbadal Chatterjee, Jyoti Parkash, and Arti Sharma of the Central University of Punjab in Bathinda, India, have focused on eight autoimmune diseases: Addison's disease, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, pernicious anaemia, psoriatic arthritis, systematic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitis. They explain that science is yet to determine the genetic and biochemical pathways that give rise to these diseases.

    The researchers point out that some autoimmune diseases don't tend to become apparent clinically at a single moment but symptoms gradually emerge in the patient ultimately leading to a diagnosis. Unfortunately, the problems are difficult to disentangle from the observations of autoimmune disease as some run in families, some are triggered by infection, and others arise because of environmental factors. It is possible that a combination of factors underpins the emergence of some diseases and that the specifics might be different from patient to patient. It is worth noting that genetics will inevitably have some role to play even if it is not the entire explanation.

    The team has probed the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database of genetic information surrounding these conditions and identified 668 genes associated with this group of diseases. The team found that most of these genes are involved in processes related to the activity of the immune system, intracellular signalling, and metabolism. However, while these genes are expressed and active in healthy people, they are silenced or have altered activity levels in people with these various autoimmune diseases.

    The researchers found that one gene in particular, PTPN22, was present in seven of the eight diseases we studied. PTPN22, or protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 is a member of the so-called PEST family of protein tyrosine phosphatases. It acts to lower T cell receptor (TCR) signalling, which keeps activity and biochemistry steady, it maintains homeostasis, in T cells until they are needed by the immune system to fight disease.

    The findings open up the possibility of finding pharmaceuticals that might be used to control errant behaviour of the proteins associated with the given gene and so perhaps modulate the problematic autoimmune response in patients. The work might also provide useful clues as to how more targeted immunotherapy and stem cell treatments might be developed, that would again allow medicine to control the harmful immune response in these diseases.

    "With the development of proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics, far more sensitive and specific methodologies will be developed in the future. Improved understanding of protein-protein interactions and specific targets anticipate further improvements in challenges of autoimmune diseases," the team concludes.

    Chatterjee, D., Parkash, J. and Sharma, A. (2022) 'A bioinformatics approach to solving the puzzle of autoimmune diseases', Int. J. Bioinformatics Research and Applications, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.415–459.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBRA.2022.10052770

  • A significant amount of electrical energy could be generated from municipal solid waste in the Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi metropolitan areas of Indonesia, collectively known as Jabodetabek.

    Research published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management used historical data on municipal waste available from the Regional Environmental Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to build a model of the electrical potential for the period 2020-2030 based on energy generation estimates from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model.

    Moh. Hadianto Ismangoen, Leopold Oscar Nelwan, I. Wayan Budiastra, and Kudang Boro Seminar of the IPB University in Bogor, and Muhammad Achirul Nanda of the Universitas Padjadjaran in Jatinangor estimate that during 2020 more than 800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity might have been generated from waste and that by 2030, the figure could be well over 1000 GWh given appropriate infrastructure development. The team says such figures should be sufficient incentive for policymakers to develop an integrated waste management system in the Jabodetabek metropolitan area to utilise the vast quantities of solid waste – more than 8 million tonnes annually – and to produce biogas from the "organic" part for electricity generation.

    Such a solution will help a developing region cope with its solid waste but does raise the issue of pollution and carbon emissions, which are inescapable as the biogas must be burned to heat water to generate steam to turn the turbines. Of course, there can be enormous net benefits when compared to burning fossil fuels in the absence of solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, or other alternatives.

    Ismangoen, M.H., Nanda, M.A., Nelwan, L.O., Budiastra, I.W. and Seminar, K.B. (2022) 'Estimation of energy generation from municipal solid waste in the Jabodetabek Metropolitan Area, Indonesia', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.453–471.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2022.10034017

  • The role of technology in healthcare is high on the agenda especially in the face of rising costs, but also more positively in terms of how providers can improve the outcomes for patients with improvements in technology. Indeed, technology is critical to patient outcomes and the overall performance of healthcare systems. A literature review published in the International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management would suggest that current research in the field has not fully explored just how far we might take the deployment of technology in improving the performance of healthcare provision.

    Amia Enam, Heidi Carin Dreyer, Jonas A. Ingvaldsen, and Luitzen De Boer of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim conducted a systematic literature review to come to this conclusion. They identified three key limitations in the published research. First, there is an apparent lack of understanding of the connection between technology and healthcare performance. Secondly, existing theories are not being used effectively in many studies. Thirdly, there is a lack of understanding of the context in which technology is deployed.

    The team has developed a framework that could be used to help address these limitations in the research literature. The researchers suggest that future work might focus on conceptualizing technology in terms of its functionalities, clearly identify and explain the choice of performance attributes, and identify and explain the mechanisms by which technology, and specifically information technology serves healthcare operations.

    Ultimately, by highlighting the importance of a clearer understanding of how technology is used to improve healthcare performance, the team hopes that the next tranche of research papers to enter the literature might more effectively fill the gaps in current knowledge. The team adds that their framework could help researchers produce the research to support healthcare providers and policymakers in making informed decisions about technology deployment, ultimately to the benefit of patient and perhaps even the bottom line.

    Enam, A., Dreyer, H.C., Ingvaldsen, J.A. and De Boer, L. (2022) 'Improving healthcare operations with IT deployment: a critical assessment of literature and a framework for future research', Int. J. Healthcare Technology and Management, Vol.19 No.3/4, pp.185 - 217.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHTM.2022.10051288

  • The reliability and security of power distribution systems is a critical infrastructure issue that can affect the lives of many people when compromised. Research in the International Journal of Power and Energy Conversion looks at how the gSpan method for screening data sets can be used to ensure power security.

    Keyan Liu of the China Electric Power Research Institute and Hui Zhou of the School of Electrical Engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University both in Haidian District, Beijing, China, have proposed a new method for detecting abnormal data in digital power distribution devices. Their approach utilises the gSpan algorithm and a cloud computing platform. By combining fuzzy association rules to collect abnormal data and wavelet threshold denoising to clean and prepare the data. The researchers explain that they then use the gSpan algorithm to screen the processed data and to extract strong correlations for secondary screening to give them the final results.

    The gSpan algorithm is a graph-based algorithm commonly used in pattern mining and structured data analysis. It can detect irregular, unexpected, and incomplete patterns in a data set. Fuzzy association rules allow uncertain and imprecise information to be processed, while wavelet threshold denoising improves data accuracy by boosting the signal-to-noise ratio.

    Proof of principle tests have shown the approach to have a minimum screening time of 6.2 seconds and an error rate of less than 0.2%, it also demonstrates a low rate of missing data. Overall, the team suggests that their approach offers a faster and more accurate means of detecting abnormal data in power distribution devices. The approach improves on the length of time that is often needed with traditional methods to screen for abnormal data, it reduces the number of errors, and cuts the rate of missed data. The next step will be to improve the data-processing capacity of the approach while ensuring data-screening efficiency is maintained.

    Liu, K. and Zhou, H. (2022) 'An abnormal data screening method of digital power distribution device based on gSpan', Int. J. Power and Energy Conversion, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.170–181.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJPEC.2022.10052104

  • Research published in the International Journal of Management and Enterprise Development has shed new light on what makes young people in Ghana more likely to start their own businesses.

    Victoria Mann, Ernest Yaw Tweneboah-Koduah, Stephen Mahamah Braimah, and Kwame Adom of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School in Legon-Accra surveyed 600 unemployed young adults to help them understand entrepreneurial motivations. They found through an analysis of the survey results using structural equation modelling that having a positive attitude and feeling in control of one's actions were the biggest factors influencing whether a respondent had the desire to become an entrepreneur. The team also found that when the same young people had the support of those around them and a strong desire to start a business they were more likely to actually go through with it.

    Interestingly, and in some ways paradoxically, the researchers also showed that despite these various factors encouraging entrepreneurialism in young people, most of the young adults surveyed said they were unsure of themselves, self-doubt was common. They often reported that they needed more help and guidance in order to feel truly confident in their business aspirations and ventures.

    The researchers suggest that their findings could help policymakers in Ghana devise new approaches to better support and encourage young entrepreneurs and so help this developing nation thrive. They add that by understanding the perceived and real problems that are holding back young people and preventing them from from starting their own businesses, they could devise ways to give them the boost they need to succeed.

    It is worth adding that their analysis explained only 38% of the variance in the actual entrepreneurship behaviour of those surveyed. The team suggests that future studies need to investigate the mediation or moderation roles of other environmental factors to explain that variance more completely. Policies that reduce barriers to entrepreneurialism due to costs and taxes might also be looked at and the issues addressed at the governmental level to encourage new businesses where enthusiasm among young entrepreneurs is stifled by limiting financial pressures.

    Mann, V., Tweneboah-Koduah, E.Y., Braimah, S.M. and Adom, K. (2023) 'Understanding entrepreneurship behaviour among the youth: a behavioural change theory perspective', Int. J. Management and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp.1–24.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMED.2023.10051374

  • Research in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising has investigated how online social networks can influence our choice of holiday destination. The team found that about two-thirds of people interviewed use sites such as Instagram and Facebook to help them decide on the places they would like to visit. LinkedIn had a lot less influence on such decisions, the team found. The study has implications for those working in tourism marketing and management.

    Bruno Miguel Vieira, Ana Pinto Borges, and Elvira Pacheco Vieira of the ISAG – European Business School and Research Centre in Business Sciences and Tourism (CICET – FCVC), in Porto, Portugal suggest that it is beyond doubt that social networks are important hubs of information and opinion that influence our choices with regard to so many aspects of our lives including the products and services on which we choose to spend our money.

    The researchers have used various approaches to examine this notion. They extend the technology acceptance model (TAM), a widely used framework for understanding how and why people adopt new technologies, and looked at perceived usefulness, perceived ease-of-use, attitude towards use, and perceived enjoyment. They also consider the effects of electronic word-of-mouth recommendations and previous influence factors and how all of those feed the decision-making process for putative tourists and their behavioural intention with regard to using social networking to help them decide on their next destination.

    The answers from their survey of tourists were analysed using quantitative research methods, including confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. These tools allowed the team to test their hypotheses rigorously. The use of logistic regression helped home in on an explanation of the influence of social networking on finding information about a destination and on making the final choice to visit that place.

    "Our results show that businesses need to consider this mean as one of the most cost-effective way to reach potential consumers," the team writes. "The conclusions of our study provide important inputs for decision-makers to define strategies to make the best advantages of these powerful new tools."

    Vieira, B.M., Pinto Borges, A. and Pacheco Vieira, E. (2023) 'The role of social networks for decision-making about tourism destinations', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.1–27.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2023.10053065

News

Prof. Benoît Eynard appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management

Prof. Benoît Eynard from Université de Technologie de Compiègne in France has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management.

Prof. Ciro Troise appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Electronic Trade

Prof. Ciro Troise from the University of Turin in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Electronic Trade.

Associate Prof. Zhenling Liu appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems

Associate Prof. Zhenling Liu from the Henan University of Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems.

Dr. Pedro Cuesta Valiño appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising

Dr. Pedro Cuesta Valiño from Universidad de Alcalá in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.

International Journal of Hydromechatronics indexed by Scopus

We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Hydromechatronics has been indexed in Elsevier's Scopus database.

Prof. Yimin Shao, the journal's Editor in Chief, said, "I am extremely happy with this wonderful news. Getting indexed by Scopus is a significant milestone showing that the journal is now being recognised for its high academic standards and international influence. I would like to thank our Executive Editors, Associate Editors, Editorial Board Members and International Review Board for their extraordinary contributions. Thanks also to Journal Manager Jenny, typesetter Vie, administrators Darren and Sarah and the rest of Inderscience's team, who have always been supportive and cooperative. I am very grateful for their great efforts."