Cesar Mauri, Agusti Solanas, Toni Granollers

International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 28 (3), 202-212

Description: A new multisensory system that aims at fostering the interaction of people with cerebral palsy is presented. This article describes the strategies and technologies used to provide people who have moderate to severe cerebral palsy with playful and fun activities designed according to their abilities. These activities are based on interactive systems that use computer vision and generate graphics and sounds in real time. The well-being that is achieved through the use of these activities is the result of gaining a significant degree of autonomy by the users. The presented system was first developed in the Cerebral Palsy Centre of Tarragona, Spain. Its motivation came from the low rate of users able to interact with computers. Although several assistive technology gadgets and special software applications (e.g., cause–effect and educational activities, simple navigation environments, etc.) were used, most users simply did not understand the interaction mechanisms. It was thought that a highly interactive activity (reinforced with sounds and images closely related with gestures) would be more accessible to most users in spite of their sensory, motor, and cognitive impairments. Tests with impaired users show that the proposal promotes participation, engagement, and play. In this article, the experimental methodology, the used and developed tools, and the results that were obtained are explained.

Stefano Guarino, Eyüp S Canlar, Mauro Conti, Roberto Di Pietro, Agusti Solanas

IEEE Transactions on Services Computing 8 (6), 985-997

Description: In remote storage services, delays in the time to retrieve data can cause economic losses to the data owners. In this paper, we address the problem of properly establishing specific clauses in the Service Level Agreement (SLA), intended to guarantee a short and predictable retrieval time. Based on the rationale that the retrieval time mainly depends on the storage media used at the server side, we introduce the concept of Provable Storage Medium (PSM), to denote the ability of a user to efficiently verify that the provider is complying to this aspect of the SLA. We propose PSM as an extension of Provable Data Possession (PDP): embedding challenge-response PDP schemes with measurements of the response time, both properties can be enforced without any need for the user to locally store nor download her data. We describe a realistic implementation of PSM in a scenario where data should be stored both in RAM and HDD. A thorough analysis shows that, even for relatively small challenges, the total time to compute and deliver the response is sensibly affected by the remarkable difference in the access time of the two supports. An extensive simulation campaign confirms the quality and viability of our proposal.

Josep M Mateo Sanz, Agusti Solanas, Dolors Puigjaner Riba, Carme Olivé Farré

The International journal of engineering education 26 (3), 667-680

Description: Statistics is fundamental to many disciplines and plays a central role in Engineering and Sciences. To understand and apply statisticsrequires students to be highly motivated. Therefore, fostering students’ learning and reducing dropout rates implies increasing students’ motivation. We present a guided problem-based learning approach to teaching statistics in hybrid learning environments and we analyseits impact on students’ motivation. We pay special attention at subdividing problems into small sections to obtain detailed sets ofquestions associated with specific concepts or procedures. This degree of detail guarantees that students can easily tackle theseproblems in virtual learning environments. In addition, thanks to the use of automatically generated log files, our proposal allowsteachers to finely analyse the steps in which students have difficulties. We assess our proposal in terms of student satisfaction andmotivation. The results show that although success rates are not improved, students’ motivation for the subject increases. Consequently, our approach is a good choice to improve motivation and reduce the dropout rate in difficult subjects such as Statistics.

Chiara Mariti, Giovanni Gerardo Muscolo, Jan Peters, Domenec Puig, Carmine Tommaso Recchiuto, Claudio Sighieri, Agusti Solanas, Oskar von Stryk

Journal of Veterinary Behavior 10 (3), 248-254

Description: Collaboration between veterinarians and other professionals such as engineers and computer scientists will become important in biorobotics for both scientific achievements and the protection of animal welfare. Particularly, cats have not yet become a significant source of inspiration for new technologies in robotics. This article suggests a novel approach for the investigation of particular aspects of cat morphology, neurophysiology, and behavior aimed at bridging this gap by focusing on the versatile, powerful locomotion abilities of cats and implementing a robotic tool for the measurements of biological parameters of animals and building cat-inspired robotic prototypes. The presented framework suggests the basis for the development of novel hypotheses and models describing biomechanics, locomotion, balancing system, visual perception, as well as learning and adaption of cat motor skills and behavior. In subsequent work, the resulting models will be tested and evaluated in simulated and real experiments and validated with specific experimental data gathered from cats. This methodology has application in several areas including dynamic models and artificial vision systems. From an ethical point of view, this approach is in line with the 3R principles: the detailed and integrated systems will allow us to study a small number of cats (reduction) for the implementation of noninvasive tools such as electromyography and gaze analysis (refinement), which will make the construction of a substitute to experiments on living cats (replacement) easier. For instance, bioinspired prototypes could be used to test how specific visual and physical impairment in cats (up to partial or total blindness, loss of a leg, and so forth) change their walking and jumping abilities. This modus operandi may pave the way for a new generation of research in the veterinary field. Moreover, the measurement tools to be developed will constitute an achievement per se as for the first time visual, muscular, and gait analysis of cats will be integrated, and this will help to improve the rehabilitation procedures for cats and other nonhuman animals.

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