Research Picks – July 2017

Good to go

Online communities, virtual worlds, cyberspace, the concepts are diffuse but the meaning is almost common knowledge. Now that almost everyone has a powerful computer in their pocket or purse and a penchant for playing games, the notion of the gamification of marketing has come to the fore in recent years. One of the more prominent fads in this area was the digital game Pokémon Go. The game is essentially an augmented reality version of the Pokémon video game and card-trading activity popular in the late 1990s and onwards. Researchers at the Lebanese American University, in Beirut, have carried out an exploratory, qualitative study of the impact of gamification, with Pokémon Go, as a particular focus. The trust built between members of such gaming communities could, the team suggests, have an enormous impact on product and brand perception and thus marketing and sales of products associated with a given game and franchised products aligned with that brand. The exploratory work shows, as one might expect, that marketers could utilize these communities and virtual venues in order to indirectly market their products and shape to their advantage consumer purchase intentions.

Ramadan, Z.B. and Farah, M.F. (2017) ‘The Pokémonisation of the first moment of truth’, Int. J. Web-Based Communities, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.262–277.


Tweeting about security

When a major security problem arises in the world of information and communications technology, such as the Heartbleed bug in the open SSL, security layer for web servers, many users turn to social media to find out what impact it may have on their privacy and security. A UK study, which takes the Heartbleed debacle as a case study, points to the microblogging platform Twitter as being one of the first ports of call for many users in the immediate aftermath of the revelations about this problem. Heartbleed essentially broke the security that protects data transmitted between server and client and vice versa and so could allow passwords and other sensitive data to be stolen via compromised computers. Fundamentally it seems, legal, financial, entrepreneurial, media, and IT professionals were the first to participate in Heartbleed discussion on Twitter. The research highlights the fact that there is no voice of authority when it comes to the field of cybersecurity users of all shades essentially fending for themselves and finding their own way through the data fog.

Jeske, D., McNeill, A.R., Coventry, L. and Briggs, P. (2017) ‘Security information sharing via Twitter: ‘heartbleed’ as a case study’, Int. J. Web-Based Communities, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.172–192.


Energetic clouds

Mobile computing requires powerful platforms for the massive amounts of data that are shuttled to and from consumers and between servers. Cloud computing has facilitated many of the applications we all rely on in this environment, reducing overheads on individual end-user gadgets and allowing server load to be distributed across different setups rather than a single provider having to offer full power to all users simultaneously. However, mobile cloud computing comes with security risks and an energy footprint. Now, a team in China has developed a lightweight mobile storage platform, that uses cloud storage technology and has several innovative mechanisms that offer better file query experience, enhanced data security, and optimized energy efficiency. The team’s extensive experiments on “QoS” (quality of service) performance as well as energy efficiency prove it offers a viable tradeoff between performance and energy consumption compared to many other approaches.

Xiao, P., Chen, R. and Qu, X. (2017) ‘Improving security and energy-efficiency for cloud-based storage platforms in mobile computing environments’, Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.468–481.


Infrared detection

Pyroelectric infrared radiation sensors are passive sensors, they detect infrared radiation, heat, from objects in their vicinity. They are commonly used in intruder detection systems for burglar alarms. Now, a team from China hopes to extend the use of these passive devices so that the signals from them can be used to discern multiple moving people in an environment. They explain that a clever piece of mathematics, decomposition of wavelet packets with multi-resolution allows them to extract energy variations and reconstruct the signals based on feature vectors to represent various characteristics of different moving human targets. Such a system would be useful in various security settings and perhaps in disaster management, and other applications.

Zhao, N., Li, F., Liu, X. and Li, Y. (2017) ‘Signal processing of pyroelectric infrared sensor for classification of multiple moving human targets’, Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.419–436.

Author: David Bradley

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