Research Picks Extra – May 2017

When the boot’s on the other foot

A collaboration between researchers in Scotland and China could help make football sliding tackles slicker as well as reducing the risk of injury on the pitch. The researchers have tested different “stud” configurations on the outer soles of soccer footwear with experienced players to determine which is the most effective for straight ahead running, sharp turns and sidesteps. They have also looked at impact on knee loading and risk of the common anterior cruciate ligament injury that afflicts many footballers. Risk of metatarsal stress fracture and even formation of calluses was investigated. They found that footwear with firm ground design outperformed those cleat configurations designed for artificial ground design and turf when used on natural turf in terms of athletic performance. Counter to that, however, was a great risk of knee of foot injuries. In other words, at the end of the day, as ever, it’s a game of two halves when it comes to football boots.

Sun, D., Gu, Y., Mei, Q. and Baker, J.S. (2017) ‘Different soccer stud configurations effect on running and cutting movements’, Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp.19–32

Obscuring digital fingerprints

Researchers from Japan and Norway have worked on the problem of copyright protection and specifically how a digital watermark, or fingerprint, might be transparently embedded in a digital file or multimedia object. They have tested just how well the commonly used spread spectrum fingerprinting resists “hacking” and have defined a mathematical argument for the effectiveness of the so-called moderated minority extreme (MMX) attack and offer several new ideas on how copyright holders might protect their commodities from such attacks which would otherwise facilitate untraceable file sharing facilitated by such attacks. Security through obfuscation seems to work, the team suggests, if the “pirates” are unaware of the presence of the digital fingerprint, then an attack will not be possible unless the attacker has the obfuscating key for the protection.

Schaathun, H.G. and Kuribayashi, M. (2017) ‘Obfuscation in digital fingerprinting’, Int. J. Information and Coding Theory, Vol. 4, Nos. 2/3, pp.185–200.

Personalized asthma care in the cloud

Asthma, a serious and potentially life-threatening inflammatory disorder of the lungs. Patients are often encouraged by their physician to manage their own inhaler and drug use in this disease, monitoring indicators of lung health, such as peak flow, and ensuring that they comply with their medication instructions. Researchers in India point out that electronic healthcare systems exist for the general patients of hospitals, clinics and other health centers. However, there is a growing need for e-healthcare, in the cloud, for patients of specific diseases and disorders in order to provide targeted information and recommendations. The team has now proposed an Asthma Healthcare Service Recommendation System (AHSRS) for asthma patients that works using remote servers and is accessible through cloud technology via desktop or mobile computing device, such as a tablet or smart phone. Such a system targeted at a specific disease can be more focused and avoid information overload of patients seeking advice and recommendations only for their particular condition.

Rani, A. and Kalra, S. (2017) ‘Personalised recommendation system for asthma patients using cloud’, Int. J. Telemedicine and Clinical Practices, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.100–120.

Self-sharpening tools

Ultra-precision processing in industry requires ultra-precision equipment. Unfortunately, all tools suffer from wear and tear in use. Now, a team from China has turned to nanotechnology to help them design a system for the likes of fine super-hard grinding wheel, diamond grinding wheels and carbon boron nitride grinding wheels. These abrasive tools have added fillers – zinc, calcium oxide, silica with iron chloride solution as a binder – that allow them to shed worn abrasive particles and thus undergo self-sharpening. The team suggests that this system overcomes the shortcomings of conventional metal bonded super-hard abrasive processing on hard and brittle machining materials.

Feng, K., Zhou, Z., Fan, H. and Yuan, J. (2017) ‘Experiment on self-sharpening fine super-hard abrasive tool’, Int. J. Nanomanufacturing, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.97–108.

Author: David Bradley

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