Research Picks Extra – January 2017

Amping innovation up to “11”

There are pros and cons to innovation that emerges from the activities of hobbyists according to researchers in Finland who have taken the CreamSound guitar amplifier as a case study. They point out that the product users and the innovators being one and the same are inevitably highly passionate about the work. Conversely, except in rare cases, resources at the disposal of the innovators are limited. The findings add to the small but growing knowledge surrounding customer- and user-centred innovation an increasingly important topic in product development and subsequent marketing of novel products and new designs of old products. The advent of social networking could hobbyist innovators could gain skills and become more effective through greater communication and connectivity.

Salmela, E., Häkkinen, K. and Rantala, J. (2017) ‘Hobbyists as a super group of user-centred innovation – case CreamSound guitar amplifier’, Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.223–245.

 

More power to your elbow

Biomechanics is yet to reach its full potential consistent with improving healthcare delivery, according to researchers in India. The team’s analysis of a persistent and ubiquitous joint problem – elbow pain, often referred to as tennis elbow, or golfer’s elbow depending on the specific location of the problem, has allowed them to show how biomechanics coupled with software might be more efficaciously employed in understanding such a problem. Fundamentally, they have determined the nature of the forces involved in elbow flexion and the angle through which the elbow functions most effectively. While, the specific case offers a good example of an analysis with a biomechanics approach, it also serves as a model for how biomechanics might mature.

Pujari, S., Venkatesh, T. and Kumar, M.D.S. (2016) ‘Analysis of Muscle moment and reaction force of elbow joint during flexion moment’, Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp.370–376

 

The tourist age

The competitiveness of any given tourist attraction depends on happy visitors who enjoy the visit and feel they got value for money and would consider a return revisit or at the least recommend the attraction to other people. The age of visitors to an attraction is critical to profiling the tourist demographic especially given that certain types of attraction may be broadly of more interest to certain age groups than others. Moreover, the image of a given destination may give potential visitors in different age groups preconceptions about that attraction and either encourage or discourage them from visiting. A US study offers new insights into how age affects satisfaction and points to new approaches to tourist marketing and business practices that could bolster the industry.

Li, J., Ali, F. and Kim, W.G. (2017) ‘Age matters: how demographics influence visitor perception and attitude at the destination level’, Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.149–164.

 

Optimising sperm

Complex problems often require complex answers. However, mimicking natural processes such as the way in which a bee colony seeks out flowers rich in nectar, bats hunt flying insects, or ants control the colony can be a way to find simpler solutions to such problems. Indeed, a whole field has grown out of biomimetic optimisation. Now, a team from Egypt and Yemen has turned to the natural process of how sperm follow a chemical attractant given off by the egg to achieve internal fertilisation as a novel way to optimise certain problems. The team has coded a computer algorithm that mimics the behaviour of many sperm of different “motility” flowing towards the ovum in the reproductive tract guided by a chemoattractant. The algorithm can then solve a global optimisation problem without resorting to much more long-winded trial-and-error approaches commonly used for such engineering problems as design of gear trains or liquid transport containers.

Raouf, O.A. and Hezam, I.M. (2017) ‘Sperm motility algorithm: a novel metaheuristic approach for global optimisation’, Int. J. Operational Research, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp.143–163.

Author: David Bradley

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