Research Picks April 2016

Summarizing a video

We are all familiar with the term “executive summary”, where key points from a text are extracted, or abstracted, either manually or automatically and used to give an outline of content and context of a piece of literature, whether an academic treatise or a business plan. But, how does one create an executive summary of a video? Researchers in India think they have a frame-by frame answer in the form of a computer algorithm that combines color histogram and edge histogram features with optimum global thresholding to detect key frames. The technology could be used by websites such as Youtube or Vimeo, or by video archivists, TV companies and other content creators, to create a summary database of movies and other video footage that would be quicker and easier to scan than full-length originals.

Phadikar, A., Kumar, N., Phadikar, B.S. and Maity, G.K. (2016) ‘Video summarisation using optimum global threshold technique based on genetic algorithm’, Int. J. Innovative Computing and Applications, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.1–12.

Electronic healthcare to fight homelessness

Mental illness is a major cause of homelessness and while it can often be treated psychiatrically or pharmacologically, those worst affected do not commonly stick to their prescribed medication rigidly. Now, researchers in the USA suggest that the paradigm of electronic healthcare technology might be used to address this pervasive problem in society by ensuring that patients adhere to their medication out of choice and so avoid the often inevitable decline that can lead to loss of employment, loss of their home and other problems. The team suggests that giving patients a sense of self-efficacy is important. With electronic healthcare technology, the adherence to medication can be improved. Their model of the process suggests that this could well reduce the number of people with mental illness leaving regular society and ending up on the streets.

Ahluwalia, P., Gimpel, G. and Varshney, U. (2015) ‘ICT interventions impacting big societal challenges: an electronic healthcare approach to homelessness’, Int. J. Electronic Healthcare, Vol. 8, Nos. 2/3/4, pp.95–120.

Healthy workers

Several societies through history have attempted to “improve” the health and wellbeing of their workers. There is often an undercurrent of autocratic control, however, of the corporation or the government nannying citizens, and many adults do not respond well to being treated in such a manner, as if they are children incapable of looking after themselves. Now, a study from Sweden offers a different approach, one that empowers employees without the authoritarian nanny but at the same time helps improve staff health and wellbeing. The team suggests that work place health promotion offers employees the tools with which to self-manage their lifestyles and selves as human capital without teetering towards the precarious activity of the boss not only subordinated work but life in general.

Maravelias, C. and Holmqvist, M. (2016) ‘Healthy organisations’: developing the self-managing employee’, Int. J. Human Resources Development and Management, Vol. 16, Nos. 1/2, pp.82–99.

Putting the Internet of Things on standby

The Internet of Things, a world of devices and gadgets each with its own connection to the ubiquitous internet is upon us, sensors in our refrigerators hooked up to our online shopping orders and bathrooms with diagnostic tools for checking our daily movements, smart vehicles hooked to traffic alerts, environmental monitors in our cities and on our farms, and much more. Unfortunately, electronics require electrons and that means an electricity supply. While some devices are amenable to solar or wind power there will be many more that will rely on rechargeable batteries or a connection to the power network. Now, researchers in Finland have developed a wake-up on radio technology that would allow such devices to be cycled in low-power mode between sensing and transmission cycles and woken up via an over-the-air radio transmission so that total power usage can be minimized. The team foresees energy savings of almost 90% in some scenarios although a more reasonable wake-sleep cycle might save between 45 and 80% power.

Valta, M., Koskela, P. and Hiltunen, J. (2016) ‘Wake-up radio implementation for internet of things’, Int. J. Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems, Vol. 9, Nos. 1/2, pp.85–102.

Author: David Bradley

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