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Computers, Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2021) – 16 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Literacy skills are critical for future success, yet an alarming number of students lack proficient reading skills according to standardized assessments. Focus on standardized assessment scores may lead teachers to focus on test preparation rather than the transferable skills that students need to be successful readers. In this article, we describe the StairStepper adaptive literacy game that is part of the Interactive Strategy Training for Active Reading and Thinking (iSTART) intelligent tutoring system. Results of this study indicate that the StairStepper game is a promising solution to fill this gap in instruction by providing a fun and engaging way for students to practice essential literacy skills. Acknowledgement: The authors wish to thank Tong Li for his production of the graphical abstract for this article. View this paper
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Open AccessArticle
Sparsity Increases Uncertainty Estimation in Deep Ensemble
Computers 2021, 10(4), 54; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040054 - 19 Apr 2021
Viewed by 349
Abstract
Deep neural networks have achieved almost human-level results in various tasks and have become popular in the broad artificial intelligence domains. Uncertainty estimation is an on-demand task caused by the black-box point estimation behavior of deep learning. The deep ensemble provides increased accuracy [...] Read more.
Deep neural networks have achieved almost human-level results in various tasks and have become popular in the broad artificial intelligence domains. Uncertainty estimation is an on-demand task caused by the black-box point estimation behavior of deep learning. The deep ensemble provides increased accuracy and estimated uncertainty; however, linearly increasing the size makes the deep ensemble unfeasible for memory-intensive tasks. To address this problem, we used model pruning and quantization with a deep ensemble and analyzed the effect in the context of uncertainty metrics. We empirically showed that the ensemble members’ disagreement increases with pruning, making models sparser by zeroing irrelevant parameters. Increased disagreement im-plies increased uncertainty, which helps in making more robust predictions. Accordingly, an energy-efficient compressed deep ensemble is appropriate for memory-intensive and uncertainty-aware tasks. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Supporting School Aged Children to Train Their Vision by Using Serious Games
Computers 2021, 10(4), 53; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040053 - 16 Apr 2021
Viewed by 331
Abstract
Several children struggle with vision difficulties caused by problematic coordination between their left and right eye muscles, i.e., oculomotor dysfunction (OMD). Many OMDs can be improved by training the eyes via physical exercises defined and supervised by vision experts. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Several children struggle with vision difficulties caused by problematic coordination between their left and right eye muscles, i.e., oculomotor dysfunction (OMD). Many OMDs can be improved by training the eyes via physical exercises defined and supervised by vision experts. The aim of this paper is to investigate the feasibility of utilizing Serious Games (SGs) and eye-tracking technologies (ETs) for training the eyes of children having OMD. Via these activities, a trainee can, with her eye gaze, follow objects which are moving, change their directions and speed, or pop up on the screen. The results present mapping the current physical training goals to activities for SGs using input from ETs, and illustrate this correspondence for designing and developing six games. The games’ feasibility evaluation is done via semistructured interviews and evaluating user experiences. Three vision teachers (VTs) were involved in design and development, ensuring achievement of training goals, and five VT students in evaluations. The findings demonstrate the potential of using SGs and ETs to train OMD and point to future needs for improvements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game-Based Learning, Gamification in Education and Serious Games)
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Business Performance by Employing Virtualization Technology: A Case Study in the Financial Sector
Computers 2021, 10(4), 52; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040052 - 16 Apr 2021
Viewed by 369
Abstract
The financial crisis of the last decade has left many financial institutions with limited personnel and equipment resources. Thus, the IT departments of these institutions are being asked to explore novel approaches to resolve these constraints in a cost-effective and efficient manner. The [...] Read more.
The financial crisis of the last decade has left many financial institutions with limited personnel and equipment resources. Thus, the IT departments of these institutions are being asked to explore novel approaches to resolve these constraints in a cost-effective and efficient manner. The goal of this paper is to measure the impact of modern enabling technologies, such as virtualization, in the process of replacing legacy infrastructures. This paper proposes an IT services upgrade plan approach for an organization by using modern technologies. For this purpose, research took place in an operating financial institution, which required a significant upgrade of both its service-level and its hardware infrastructure. A virtualization implementation and deployment assessment for the entire infrastructure was conducted and the resulting consolidated data are presented and analysed. The paper concludes with a five-year financial-based evaluation of the proposed approach with respect to the projection of expenditures, the return of investment and profitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Paper in Computers)
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Open AccessArticle
CAT-CAD: A Computer-Aided Diagnosis Tool for Cataplexy
Computers 2021, 10(4), 51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040051 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 467
Abstract
Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a severe lifelong disorder characterized, among others, by sudden loss of bilateral face muscle tone triggered by emotions (cataplexy). A recent approach for the diagnosis of the disease is based on a completely manual analysis of video recordings of [...] Read more.
Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a severe lifelong disorder characterized, among others, by sudden loss of bilateral face muscle tone triggered by emotions (cataplexy). A recent approach for the diagnosis of the disease is based on a completely manual analysis of video recordings of patients undergoing emotional stimulation made on-site by medical specialists, looking for specific facial behavior motor phenomena. We present here the CAT-CAD tool for automatic detection of cataplexy symptoms, with the double aim of (1) supporting neurologists in the diagnosis/monitoring of the disease and (2) facilitating the experience of patients, allowing them to conduct video recordings at home. CAT-CAD includes a front-end medical interface (for the playback/inspection of patient recordings and the retrieval of videos relevant to the one currently played) and a back-end AI-based video analyzer (able to automatically detect the presence of disease symptoms in the patient recording). Analysis of patients’ videos for discovering disease symptoms is based on the detection of facial landmarks, and an alternative implementation of the video analyzer, exploiting deep-learning techniques, is introduced. Performance of both approaches is experimentally evaluated using a benchmark of real patients’ recordings, demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence for Health)
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Open AccessArticle
MyDiabetes—The Gamified Application for Diabetes Self-Management and Care
Computers 2021, 10(4), 50; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040050 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 345
Abstract
Gamified applications are regarded as useful for patients in facilitating daily self-care management and the personalization of health monitoring. This paper reports the development of a gamified application by considering a design that had previously been investigated and reported. Numerous game elements were [...] Read more.
Gamified applications are regarded as useful for patients in facilitating daily self-care management and the personalization of health monitoring. This paper reports the development of a gamified application by considering a design that had previously been investigated and reported. Numerous game elements were installed in the application, which covered several tasks aimed at managing diabetes mellitus. The development process utilized the Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology in terms of system requirements, user design, construction, and cutover; this paper refers to the user design and cutover processes. The developed application was tested through system testing and usability testing. The usability testing adopted the Software Usability Scale (SUS) to assess the usability of the application. Twenty participants were involved in the testing. The result showed that the gamified application is easy and practical to use for an individual with or without diabetes. All the provided functions worked as designed and planned, and the participants accepted their usability. Overall, this study offers a promising result that could lead to real-life implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game-Based Learning, Gamification in Education and Serious Games)
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Open AccessReview
A Brief Review on the Sensor Measurement Solutions for the Ten-Meter Walk Test
Computers 2021, 10(4), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040049 - 11 Apr 2021
Viewed by 446
Abstract
The wide-spread use of wearables and the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm provide an opportunity to use mobile-device sensors for medical applications. Sensors available in the commonly used devices may inspire innovative solutions for physiotherapy striving for accurate and early [...] Read more.
The wide-spread use of wearables and the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm provide an opportunity to use mobile-device sensors for medical applications. Sensors available in the commonly used devices may inspire innovative solutions for physiotherapy striving for accurate and early identification of various pathologies. An essential and reliable performance measure is the ten-meter walk test, which is employed to determine functional mobility, gait, and vestibular function. Sensor-based approaches can identify the various test phases and their segmented duration, among other parameters. The measurement parameter primarily used is related to the tests’ duration, and after identifying patterns, a variety of physical treatments can be recommended. This paper reviews multiple studies focusing on automated measurements of the ten-meter walk test with different sensors. Most of the analyzed studies measure similar parameters as traditional methods, such as velocity, duration, and other involuntary and dangerous patients’ movements after stroke. That provides an opportunity to measure different parameters that can be later fed into machine learning models for analyzing more complex patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence for Health)
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Open AccessArticle
iSTART StairStepper—Using Comprehension Strategy Training to Game the Test
Computers 2021, 10(4), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040048 - 09 Apr 2021
Viewed by 371
Abstract
Literacy skills are critical for future success, yet over 60% of high school seniors lack proficient reading skills according to standardized tests. The focus on high stakes, standardized test performance may lead educators to “teach-to-the-test” rather than supporting transferable comprehension strategies that students [...] Read more.
Literacy skills are critical for future success, yet over 60% of high school seniors lack proficient reading skills according to standardized tests. The focus on high stakes, standardized test performance may lead educators to “teach-to-the-test” rather than supporting transferable comprehension strategies that students need. StairStepper can fill this gap by blending necessary test prep and reading comprehension strategy practice in a fun, game-based environment. StairStepper is an adaptive literacy skill training game within Interactive Strategy Training for Active Reading and Thinking (iSTART) intelligent tutoring system. StairStepper is unique in that it models text passages and multiple-choice questions of high-stakes assessments, iteratively supporting skill acquisition through self-explanation prompts and scaffolded, adaptive feedback based on performance and self-explanations. This paper describes an experimental study employing a delayed-treatment control design to evaluate users’ perceptions of the StairStepper game and its influence on reading comprehension scores. Results indicate that participants enjoyed the visual aspects of the game environment, wanted to perform well, and considered the game feedback helpful. Reading comprehension scores of students in the treatment condition did not increase. However, the comprehension scores of the control group decreased. Collectively, these results indicate that the StairStepper game may fill the intended gap in instruction by providing enjoyable practice of essential reading comprehension skills and test preparation, potentially increasing students’ practice persistence while decreasing teacher workload. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game-Based Learning, Gamification in Education and Serious Games)
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Open AccessArticle
Online Judging Platform Utilizing Dynamic Plagiarism Detection Facilities
Computers 2021, 10(4), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040047 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 496
Abstract
A programming contest generally involves the host presenting a set of logical and mathematical problems to the contestants. The contestants are required to write computer programs that are capable of solving these problems. An online judge system is used to automate the judging [...] Read more.
A programming contest generally involves the host presenting a set of logical and mathematical problems to the contestants. The contestants are required to write computer programs that are capable of solving these problems. An online judge system is used to automate the judging procedure of the programs that are submitted by the users. Online judges are systems designed for the reliable evaluation of the source codes submitted by the users. Traditional online judging platforms are not ideally suitable for programming labs, as they do not support partial scoring and efficient detection of plagiarized codes. When considering this fact, in this paper, we present an online judging framework that is capable of automatic scoring of codes by detecting plagiarized contents and the level of accuracy of codes efficiently. Our system performs the detection of plagiarism by detecting fingerprints of programs and using the fingerprints to compare them instead of using the whole file. We used winnowing to select fingerprints among k-gram hash values of a source code, which was generated by the Rabin–Karp Algorithm. The proposed system is compared with the existing online judging platforms to show the superiority in terms of time efficiency, correctness, and feature availability. In addition, we evaluated our system by using large data sets and comparing the run time with MOSS, which is the widely used plagiarism detection technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Paper in Computers)
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Response Time for Crowd Management in Hajj
Computers 2021, 10(4), 46; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040046 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 483
Abstract
Flying Adhoc Network (FANET) is a particular type of Mobile Adhoc Network (MANET) that consists of flying drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). MANETs are especially useful in rural and remote areas, where the lack of public networks necessitates data delivery through mobile [...] Read more.
Flying Adhoc Network (FANET) is a particular type of Mobile Adhoc Network (MANET) that consists of flying drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). MANETs are especially useful in rural and remote areas, where the lack of public networks necessitates data delivery through mobile nodes. Additionally, FANETs provide better coverage where there is a lack of roads. Generally, the goal of FANETs is to provide multimedia data to applications such as search and rescue operations, forest fire detection, surveillance and patrol, environmental monitoring, and traffic and urban monitoring. The above applications’ performance and efficiency depend on the quality and timely delivery of these essential data from an area of interest to control centers. This paper presents a Priority-based Routing Framework for Flying Adhoc Networks (PRoFFAN) for the expedited delivery of essential multimedia data to control centers. PRoFFAN reduces the FANET application’s response time by prioritizing the sending and forwarding of critical image data from the UAV to the control center. Our motivation application is crowd management; we believe that having important image features as early as possible will save lives and enhance the crowd’s safety and flow. We integrated PRoFFAN over the RPL routing layer of Contiki-NG’s IPv6 network stack. We used simulations in Cooja to demonstrate the benefit of PRoFFAN over conventional ZigBee. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Networked Telemetry
Computers 2021, 10(4), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040045 - 03 Apr 2021
Viewed by 502
Abstract
This paper presents the modeling of the networks supporting today’s telemetry. The incorporation of networking features has significantly enhanced the capability and performance of modern telemetry systems. The development of Integrated Network-Enhanced Telemetry protocols and the use of networked telemetry applications has introduced [...] Read more.
This paper presents the modeling of the networks supporting today’s telemetry. The incorporation of networking features has significantly enhanced the capability and performance of modern telemetry systems. The development of Integrated Network-Enhanced Telemetry protocols and the use of networked telemetry applications has introduced a host of potential cybersecurity risks inherent in modern networking. This paper will investigate how telemetry applications are uniquely structured with wide-, local-, and micro-area networks that represent modern telemetry solutions. The development of these models and the traffic on these networks will enable analysis into the unique threats and vulnerabilities of telemetry networks. The core of this paper is the notion that telemetry networks are unique, and modeling these networks is key to the current work. The core premise of this paper is also that telemetry networks look and function like Supervisory Command and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks. By digging deeply into both of these structures, we have shown here that SCADA architectures can be adapted to telemetry networks. This approach opens the door to a wealth of analysis, strategies, and solutions for telemetry networks that are well developed in the SCADA realm. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
LoRa Channel Characterization for Flexible and High Reliability Adaptive Data Rate in Multiple Gateways Networks
Computers 2021, 10(4), 44; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040044 - 02 Apr 2021
Viewed by 483
Abstract
We characterize the LoRa channel in terms of multi-path fading, loss burstiness, and assess the benefits of Forward Error Correction as well as the influence of frame length. We make these observations by synthesizing extensive experimental measurements realized with The Things Network in [...] Read more.
We characterize the LoRa channel in terms of multi-path fading, loss burstiness, and assess the benefits of Forward Error Correction as well as the influence of frame length. We make these observations by synthesizing extensive experimental measurements realized with The Things Network in a medium size city. We then propose to optimize the LoRaWAN Adaptive Data Rate algorithm based on this refined LoRa channel characterization and taking into account the LoRaWAN inherent macro-diversity from multi-gateway reception. Firstly, we propose ADRopt, which adjusts Spreading Factor and frame repetition number to maintain the communication below a target Packet Error Rate ceiling with optimized Time-On-Air. Secondly, we propose ADRIFECC, an extension of ADRopt in case an Inter-Frame Erasure Correction Code is available. The resulting protocol provides very high reliability even over low quality channels, with comparable Time on Air and similar downlink usage as the currently deployed mechanism. Simulations corroborate the analysis, both over a synthetic random wireless link and over replayed real-world packet transmission traces. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Systematic Investigation of Models for Color Image Processing in Wound Size Estimation
Computers 2021, 10(4), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040043 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 396
Abstract
In recent years, research in tracking and assessing wound severity using computerized image processing has increased. With the emergence of mobile devices, powerful functionalities and processing capabilities have provided multiple non-invasive wound evaluation opportunities in both clinical and non-clinical settings. With current imaging [...] Read more.
In recent years, research in tracking and assessing wound severity using computerized image processing has increased. With the emergence of mobile devices, powerful functionalities and processing capabilities have provided multiple non-invasive wound evaluation opportunities in both clinical and non-clinical settings. With current imaging technologies, objective and reliable techniques provide qualitative information that can be further processed to provide quantitative information on the size, structure, and color characteristics of wounds. These efficient image analysis algorithms help determine the injury features and the progress of healing in a short time. This paper presents a systematic investigation of articles that specifically address the measurement of wounds’ sizes with image processing techniques, promoting the connection between computer science and health. Of the 208 studies identified by searching electronic databases, 20 were included in the review. From the perspective of image processing color models, the most dominant model was the hue, saturation, and value (HSV) color space. We proposed that a method for measuring the wound area must implement different stages, including conversion to grayscale for further implementation of the threshold and a segmentation method to measure the wound area as the number of pixels for further conversion to metric units. Regarding devices, mobile technology is shown to have reached the level of reliable accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence for Health)
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Open AccessReview
Serious Games and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Dental Education: An Integrative Review of the Literature
Computers 2021, 10(4), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040042 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 547
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced faculties including dental schools into a ‘new normal’, where the adoption of remote or distance learning is required to minimise the risk of infection. Synchronous learning historically was favoured due to the perceived advantage of ‘real time’ interactions [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced faculties including dental schools into a ‘new normal’, where the adoption of remote or distance learning is required to minimise the risk of infection. Synchronous learning historically was favoured due to the perceived advantage of ‘real time’ interactions between instructors and learners; these interactions are not always possible in asynchronous settings. However, serious games can overcome this limitation of asynchronous learning. This integrative review explores the literature on serious games in dental education, to construct a conceptual framework of their strengths in this pandemic. Following consideration of inclusion and exclusion criteria, 15 articles on 11 serious games designed for dental education were included in this review. Our investigation points to an increase in the use of serious games since 2018. The findings of the review support the use of serious games in dental education during the recent crisis. Key strengths include positive educational outcomes, enhanced engagement and motivation, interactive asynchronous distance learning, a safe learning environment, and the advantage of stealth assessment. Consequently, the ‘new normal’ in education appears to support a very promising future for serious games, particularly in dental education. A conceptual framework is proposed to inform further research across all education settings and timeframes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game-Based Learning, Gamification in Education and Serious Games)
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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Correia, S.D., et al. Development of a Test-Bench for Evaluating the Embedded Implementation of the Improved Elephant Herding Optimization Algorithm Applied to Energy-Based Acoustic Localization. Computers 2020, 9, 87
Computers 2021, 10(4), 41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040041 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 322
Abstract
The third affiliation of the paper should have been completed in our original article [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy in the Conditions of Social Crisis
Computers 2021, 10(4), 40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040040 - 25 Mar 2021
Viewed by 571
Abstract
In the present day, Internet technology and social media totally dominate as a means of communication. The media and social interaction have a two-sided nature, as the important role is not only those of the media messages to the users, but of the [...] Read more.
In the present day, Internet technology and social media totally dominate as a means of communication. The media and social interaction have a two-sided nature, as the important role is not only those of the media messages to the users, but of the users to the media, too. This article aims to present the dominant importance of digital media, digital literacy transformation into a precondition for social inclusion, and an indicator of professional competence and social skills. Digital citizenship is a term that reflects the level of training and competencies, with a view to active participation in social, professional, and civic life. The article is based on two methods: Focus groups that were conducted in late 2019, which includes: Students, young mothers, pensioners, and unemployed. The second method used is the documents analysis—publications, materials, and quantitative results of research on social reactions to digital media as a source of information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The combination of materials and data that have been analyzed are related to the period of the lockdown between March 2020 and December 2020. In the time of global social crises and confrontations, digital media literacy has turned out to be of critical importance for the normal course of social events and their interpretations. In this regard, digital citizenship contributes to social understanding and control, as well as the individual practices in the global pandemic trajectory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactive Technology and Smart Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Adaptation Parameters for Dynamic Video Adaptation in Wireless Network Using Experimental Method
Computers 2021, 10(4), 39; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/computers10040039 - 24 Mar 2021
Viewed by 491
Abstract
A wireless network gives flexibility to the user in terms of mobility that attracts the user to use wireless communication more. The video communication in the wireless network experiences Quality of Services (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) issues due to network dynamics. [...] Read more.
A wireless network gives flexibility to the user in terms of mobility that attracts the user to use wireless communication more. The video communication in the wireless network experiences Quality of Services (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) issues due to network dynamics. The parameters, such as node mobility, routing protocols, and distance between the nodes, play a major role in the quality of video communication. Scalable Video Coding (SVC) is an extension to H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC), allows partial removal of layers, and generates a valid adapted bit-stream. This adaptation feature enables the streaming of video data over a wireless network to meet the availability of the resources. The video adaptation is a dynamic process and requires prior knowledge to decide the adaptation parameter for extraction of the video levels. This research work aims at building the adaptation parameters that are required by the adaptation engines, such as Media Aware Network Elements (MANE), to perform adaptation on-the-fly. The prior knowledge improves the performances of the adaptation engines and gives the improved quality of the video communication. The unique feature of this work is that, here, we used an experimental evaluation method to identify the video levels that are suitable for a given network condition. In this paper, we estimated the adaptation parameters for streaming scalable video over the wireless network using the experimental method. The adaptation parameters are derived using node mobility, link bandwidth, and motion level of video sequences as deciding parameters. The experimentation is carried on the OMNeT++ tool, and Joint Scalable Video Module (JSVM) is used to encode and decode the scalable video data. Full article
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