May Research Picks

Clouds and things

Researchers in Greece and Ireland are helping to define the principles of the Internet of Things as it might exist in a cloud-computing environment. The IoT refers to sensors, actuators, smart devices such as networked industrial or domestic equipment and much more. There has been a general trend to finding ways to connect such devices usefully making them remotely accessible and controllable. However, the IoT had not yet been considered in the paradigm of cloud computing in which processing and storage of data from such devices might be carried out on remote servers rather than the user’s computer. The team thus describes a framework for on-demand establishment of IoT services based on the automated formulation of societies of internet-connected objects. They then validate the approach and demonstrate proof of principle with a smart campus scenario.

Soldatos, J., Kefalakis, N., Serrano, M. and Hauswirth, M. (2014) Design principles for utility-driven services and cloud-based computing modelling for the Internet of Things, Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 10, Nos. 2/3, pp.139–167

Better photos with particle swarms

A computer algorithm for improving the quality and vividness of photographs where lighting was not perfect has been developed by researchers in India. Their particle swarm optimization technique, a multiscale retinex-based (MSR) color image enhancement algorithm, is more efficient and produces clearer processed digital images than the equivalent algorithm used by NASA. The technology could eventually have applications in improving scientific and medical images where detail can be enhanced without compromising the integrity of the data encapsulated in the image. The team is also now working on tuning the algorithm to work with human faces, a notoriously difficult area of pixel processing in digital photography.

Hanumantharaju, M.C., Ravishankar, M., Rameshbabu, D.R. and Aradhya, V.N.M. (2014) A new framework for retinex-based color image enhancement using particle swarm optimization, Int. J. Swarm Intelligence, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.133–155

Microbial metal extraction

According to a team based in Argentina, the freshwater, microbial alga Asterococcus superbus can absorb readily absorb toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead and zinc from water. The team points out that cultivation beds of the algae might thus be used to help remove these environmental pollutants from waste water contaminated with industrial effluent or to clean up natural waterways and reservoirs. The team has used various physical chemistry models to elaborate the process of extraction and suggest that the alga has several advantages over other methods of bioremediation developed elsewhere including low cost and selective absorption of these metals over non-toxic metal ions that might be present in water.

Areco, M.M., Rodríguez, M.C. and dos Santos Afonso, M. (2014) Asterococcus superbus as a biosorbent of copper, zinc, cadmium and lead: adsorption isotherm and kinetic modeling, Int. J. Environment and Health, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.83–99

Lethal SQL injection

In the wake of yet another security problem associated with encryption, passwords and internet logins, research from a team in Malaysia highlights the lethality of a so-called SQL injection in which malicious code is pushed into a computer system using Structured Query Language. Many hack attacks on popular and well known online services and websites have exploited security flaws in SQL systems. Such an attack can lead to system shut down, exploitation of resources for fraudulent purposes or the public display of public and private user data. The team reports that finding and fixing loopholes, which includes the recently revealed “HeartBleed” bug ought to be priority for computer experts. Moreover, constant monitoring and constant learning about new threats and insecurities in this widely used system is essential.

Pathan, A-S.K. and Kindy, D.A. (2014) Lethality of SQL injection against current and future internet technologies, Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.386–394

Author: David Bradley

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