May Research Picks Extra

Mobile balance

New technology, such as smart phones and tablet computers are making it increasingly difficult for workers to disconnect from their jobs. As such, US researchers have concluded that information and communication technology (ICT) while an enabler and facilitator of so much in our work and personal lives is creating blurred lines between the two and disrupting the notion of a work-life balance. The team has shown that workers do indeed benefit from using their mobile devices in the workplace and productivity rises. But, when that use extends into the personal domain, as it frequently does, employer expectations, flexibility of work structure, and work-life balance are all altered. This can lead to conflicting demands from work and personal life.

Brown, W.S. and Palvia, P. (2015) ‘Are mobile devices threatening your work-life balance?’, Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.317–338.

Educating nurses, at a stroke

Researchers in Austria have developed a continuous learning system for nurses involved in the treatment and care of stroke patients. The system allows nurses to keep abreast of the growing body of knowledge emerging from ongoing research into this debilitating condition as well as helping them to relate the theory with their day-to-day nursing practice. Initial trials with working nurses demonstrated efficacy in terms of improved knowledge among the nurses tested as well as user acceptance and satisfaction with the system. The team is now investigating how the necessary information technology might be integrated into an active emergency ward without interfering with standard nursing practices.

Fessl, A., Bratic, M. and Pammer, V. (2014) ‘Continuous learning with a quiz for stroke nurses’, Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp.265–275.

Moving pictures

A new technique that allows scratches to be removed from digitized versions of old and damaged film movies has been developed by researchers in China. Their approach finds the start and end of scratches and measures them using a mathematical formula known as a Sobel operator or filter that can find edges in digital images. Once detected, the team’s algorithm then replaces the pixels that made up the line with near neighbors within each frame to replace the missing data and make the finished movie seem scratch free. Initial tests prove efficacy with straight, vertical scratch lines, the next step will be to develop the algorithm to detect and repair scratches at other angles and ultimately more complicated scratches.

Huang, L-J., Liu, Q-H., Tang, J. and Li, P. (2015) ‘Scratch line detection and restoration based on Sobel operator’, Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.67–73.

Social disaster

Online social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, have become useful resources for millions of people, especially in the face of natural disasters, where the dissemination of timely information becomes a matter of life and death. However, the many proprietary systems with their own management agendas are largely distinct entities. Now, Australian researchers describe “Riskr”, a web 2.0 platform for user collaboration in times of disaster that is fed by messages from the various well-known and popular social networking platforms. The team’s tests show how the combination of online services and interoperability between disaster portals and social networks can improve disaster management. For instance, the system allowed almost three-quarters of users to estimate the precise location of a disaster, such as a fire, in simulations.

Farber, J., Myers, T., Trevathan, J., Atkinson, I. and Andersen, T. (2015) ‘Riskr: a web 2.0 platform to monitor and share disaster information’, Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.98–112.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.