Research Picks Extra – July 2016

Paper wait

German researchers have developed a paper identification system that could be used to sort recycling materials into different types and grades of paper one of the most pressing issues facing modern recycling facilities. The system could use 26 different characteristics of a paper sample, including, weight, colour, texture, the presence of optical brighteners to classify papers. However, the team found that analysing just six of ten classifiers was sufficient to achieve 94 to 100% accuracy in automatically distinguishing between newspapers, magazines, advertisement, white office papers, grey office papers, and brown corrugated board. There is still room for improvement for other categories and the team is working towards that.

Gottschling, A. and Schabel, S. (2016) ‘Pattern classification system for the automatic analysis of paper for recycling’, Int. J. Applied Pattern Recognition, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.38–58.


Voice validation

A low-cost and non-proprietary approach to authenticating and validating a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) communication has been developed by Italian researchers. The system ensures that both correspondents in a conversation can be sure of each other’s identity and neither can erroneously or fraudulently interfere with the ongoing transaction or alter the communication afterwards without the other knowing. The system would be inexpensive to implement and is built on existing open and standard technologies. The non-repudiation of this form of communication now makes the use of VoIP suitable for business and sensitive transactions that might not have previously lent themselves to this technology, opening up connections where conventional telephonic infrastructure was too expensive, unreliable or unavailable but where the internet can be accessed.

Cattaneo, G., Catuogno, L., Petagna, F. and Roscigno, G. (2016) ‘Ensuring non-repudiation in human conversations over VoIP communications’, Int. J. Communication Networks and Distributed Systems, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp.315–334.


Drunk in charge

New research from China confirms that the gradual increase in alcohol (ethanol) concentration in the bloodstream has distinct phases of adverse effect on driving capacity. Zero alcohol intake is a baseline, medium consumption leads to a state in which drivers are more timid but high consumption leads to generally more aggressive driving, less consistent lane discipline and abrupt manoeuvres not seen in the control group, according to the team. This study clarifies the levels at which certain quantities of alcohol per kilogram of body weight begin to cause drivers to behave dangerously. “The study on driver behaviour plays an important role on constructing the early warning model, so as to put forward the corresponding intervention measures of unsafe driving behaviour and improve vehicle safety in reducing accidents due to drinking and/or drunk driving on public roads”, the team concludes.


Chen, H., Zhang, G., Chen, R., Chen, L. and Feng, X. (2016) ‘Comparison of driving performance during the blood alcohol concentration ascending period and descending period under alcohol influence in a driving simulator’, Int. J. Vehicle Safety, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.72–84.


A ton of feathers and a ton of soil

Feathers are mostly composed of the fibrous protein keratin, the same substance that makes up animal hair, nails, hooves, and scales. Its strength and resilience make feathers a difficult by-product of the poultry industry to deal with. Now, researchers in India have collected soil samples from sites where feathers have been dumped in the hope of finding bacteria that can degrade this waste or perhaps convert it into a biomaterial that might be more useful than plucked feathers. Of various strains tested, one emerged that uses the enzyme keratinase to hydrolyse keratin, Bacillus cereus. This microbe could completely degrade feathers within three days and so might be useful as a biological agent for waste remediation from this industry.

Rajesh, T.P., Rajasekar, S., Karthick Hari Mathan, R. and Anandaraj, B. (2016). ‘Isolation and identification of feather degrading bacteria from feather-dumped soil’, Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.293–299.

Author: David Bradley

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