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- 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.
- Machine learning offers older folks the healthy drinks option
Machine learning can be used in the classification of health-drink preferences for older people, according to research published in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
The work undertaken in Thailand during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that the complexities of preference and dietary requirements could be used to help health drinks manufacturers develop products that will be better received by the target market. Moreover, the same work could guide older people and carers and healthcare workers allowing them to stick more closely to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for such products in terms of nutritional and other benefits.
Athakorn Kengpol and Jakkarin Klunngien of King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok explain that as the world population continues to "age", there is a pressing need to address the nutritional requirements of this growing demographic. With a larger number of older people, there is likely to be a greater incidence of chronic health complaints and nutritional problems. Advances in medicine can address some of the illnesses to varying degrees. However, nutrition plays an important role in staving off illness or helping in the maintanance of general health despite the common issues of multiple conditions.
The emergence of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the ensuing world pandemic it caused complicated this issue still further. The WHO offered guidance on how older people, who would likely be more vulnerable to the potentially devastating symptoms of the disease, might be protected. Part of the guidance was focused on improved nutrition.
The team's work has led to a decision-support system based upon a machine learning model for classifying the beverages. A neural network trained using particle swarm optimisation could then be incorporated into a drinks vending machine to guide users to the most appropriate health beverage.
Kengpol, A. and Klunngien, J. (2022) 'Design of a machine learning to classify health beverages preferences for elderly people: an empirical study during COVID-19 in Thailand', Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp.319–337.
- Platoon driving not such a drag
There are numerous incentives for developing semi-autonomous vehicles. For instance, if cars can be coordinated into platoon formation for motorway driving there is the potential to increase road capacity, reduce traffic congestion, and lower the risk of collisions. There is also the possibility that formation driving in this way could also reduce aerodynamic drag and so improve total fuel economy for the vehicles in the platoon.
Research in the International Journal of Vehicle Systems Modelling and Testing examines this concept and investigates how vehicle shape, separation distance, and the number of vehicles in a platoon affect aerodynamic drag. Wei Gao, Zhaowen Deng, and Ying Feng of the School of Automotive Engineering at Hubei University of Automotive Technology in Shiyan, China, and Yuping He of the Department of Automotive and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, carried out simulations and wind tunnel tests.
The investigation shows that irrespective of the number of vehicles in a platoon, the average aerodynamic drag on each is less than the drag measured on a vehicle driving in isolation. The more vehicles in a platoon the more beneficial is the average drag reduction on total fuel economy. Cars with what is described as a "squareback" shape as opposed to notchback or fastback, have the most to gain in fuel economy when driving in platoon, with an average drag reduction of almost 20% being observed.
The team suggests that the improved fuel economy of having semi-autonomous vehicles driving in a platoon formation on long motorway journery is worth investigating further in developing intelligent transportation systems that retain the freedom of a personal vehicle on which many people are still hooked.
Gao, W., Deng, Z., Feng, Y. and He, Y. (2022) 'On aerodynamic drag reduction of road vehicles in platoon', Int. J. Vehicle Systems Modelling and Testing, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.1-24.
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, the journal's 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.