Research Picks – February 2015

The cloud manufactory

Researchers in New Zealand and Sweden have worked together to develop the concept of manufacturing in the cloud, borrowing from the world of cloud computing to develop a new concept for distributed production. Xi Wang of the Department of Production Engineering, at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm and Xun Xu of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at The University of Auckland, define the requirements of cloud manufacturing and how these can be brought together to facilitate the construction of a collaborative, intelligent, and distributed environment for manufacture.

Wang, X. and Xu, X. (2014) ‘Virtualise manufacturing capabilities in the cloud: requirements, architecture and implementation’, Int. J. Manufacturing Research, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.348–368.


Safety on takeoff

In order to avoid repeating the same often-lethal mistakes, airline crew must overcome the tyrannical nature of the pilot/co-pilot relationship as well as learning lessons from earlier accidents, according to new research published by a team from the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin. Many aeroplane accidents are caused by the same mistakes being repeated or by a senior pilot ignoring the safety warnings or protestations of junior members of the crew, the team explains. They suggest that flight safety can be reinforced by a friendlier more democratic mode of working that precludes tyranny and that crew members, whether they are in control of the aircraft at any given time or not should be forthcoming in alerting each other of status problems.

Zhao, W.Z. and Fang, J.C. (2014) ‘Diagnose the unreliability during flight takeoff’, Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 50, Nos. 3/4, pp.191–195.


Tearing a strip off Wifi

Computer scientists in China have used an evolutionary process to come up with a novel design for a tiny wireless, Wi-Fi, antenna that operates at the standard 2.4 gigahertz frequency used by most internet routers, access points and wireless network devices, such as computers, smart TVs, tablets. The antenna is just 25 × 25 × 1.6 millimetres and successfully connected a personal computer to an wireless router in trials. The team reached an optimal design for their antenna by starting with a basic prototype, making small variations, testing and discarding the least efficient of the new designs, then using the “survivor” to generate the next generation for modification and testing.

Zeng, S., Jiang, Y., Liu, Z., Wu, Y., Guo, D., Qiao, L. and Liu, Z. (2015) ‘A new WiFi microstrip antenna designed by differential evolution’, Int. J. Wireless and Mobile Computing, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp.45–50.


A design for health

Design engineer Tom Page of Loughborough University, has investigated the role played by the term “innovation” in the UK’s healthcare system and found that the word is markedly overused, causes confusion and does not help in the implementation of new technologies or approaches to treatments and healthcare provision. Specialism is the underlying cause of this problem and Page suggests that the healthcare service needs to take a step back to get a clearer view of how disparate specialists might be brought together across the industries involved in developing medical technologies so that they might then be charged with defining and answering real questions for which answers are needed in the healthcare service.

Page, T. (2014) ‘Notions of innovation in healthcare services and products’, Int. J. Innovation and Sustainable Development, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.217–231.

Author: David Bradley

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