Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 21

Search results for: Shunsuke Aoki

21 Development and Evaluation of Virtual Basketball Game Using Motion Capture Technology

Authors: Shunsuke Aoki, Taku Ri, Tatsuya Yamazaki

Abstract:

These days, along with the development of e-sports, video games as a competitive sport is attracting attention. But, in many cases, action in the screen does not match the real motion of operation. Inclusiveness of player motion is needed to increase reality and excitement for sports games. Therefore, in this study, the authors propose a method to recognize player motion by using the motion capture technology and develop a virtual basketball game. The virtual basketball game consists of a screen with nine targets, players, depth sensors, and no ball. The players pretend a two-handed basketball shot without a ball aiming at one of the nine targets on the screen. Time-series data of three-dimensional coordinates of player joints are captured by the depth sensor. 20 joints data are measured for each player to estimate the shooting motion in real-time. The trajectory of the thrown virtual ball is calculated based on the time-series data and hitting on the target is judged as success or failure. The virtual basketball game can be played by 2 to 4 players as a competitive game among the players. The developed game was exhibited to the public for evaluation on the authors' university open campus days. 339 visitors participated in the exhibition and enjoyed the virtual basketball game over the two days. A questionnaire survey on the developed game was conducted for the visitors who experienced the game. As a result of the survey, about 97.3% of the players found the game interesting regardless of whether they had experienced actual basketball before or not. In addition, it is found that women are easy to comfort for shooting motion. The virtual game with motion capture technology has the potential to become a universal entertainment between e-sports and actual sports.

Keywords: basketball, motion capture, questionnaire survey, video ga

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20 Solving 94-Bit ECDLP with 70 Computers in Parallel

Authors: Shunsuke Miyoshi, Yasuyuki Nogami, Takuya Kusaka, Nariyoshi Yamai

Abstract:

Elliptic curve discrete logarithm problem (ECDLP) is one of problems on which the security of pairing-based cryptography is based. This paper considers Pollard's rho method to evaluate the security of ECDLP on Barreto-Naehrig (BN) curve that is an efficient pairing-friendly curve. Some techniques are proposed to make the rho method efficient. Especially, the group structure on BN curve, distinguished point method, and Montgomery trick are well-known techniques. This paper applies these techniques and shows its optimization. According to the experimental results for which a large-scale parallel system with MySQL is applied, 94-bit ECDLP was solved about 28 hours by parallelizing 71 computers.

Keywords: Pollard's rho method, BN curve, Montgomery multiplication

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19 Third Language Perception of English Initial Plosives by Mandarin-Japanese Bilinguals

Authors: Rika Aoki

Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether being bilinguals facilitates or impedes the perception of a third language. The present study conducted a perception experiment in which Mandarin-Japanese bilinguals categorized a Voice-Onset-Time (VOT) continuum into English /b/ or /p/. The results show that early bilinguals were influenced by both Mandarin and Japanese, while late bilinguals behaved in a similar manner to Mandarin monolinguals Thus, it can be concluded that in the present study having two languages did not help bilinguals to perceive L3 stop contrast native-likely.

Keywords: bilinguals, perception, third language acquisition, voice-onset-time

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18 Evaluation Using a Bidirectional Microphone as a Pressure Pulse Wave Meter

Authors: Shunsuke Fujiwara, Takashi Kaburagi, Kazuyuki Kobayashi, Kajiro Watanabe, Yosuke Kurihara

Abstract:

This paper describes a novel sensor device, a pressure pulse wave meter, which uses a bidirectional condenser microphone. The microphone work as a microphone as well as a sensor with high gain over a wide frequency range; they are also highly reliable and economical. Currently aging is becoming a serious social issue in Japan causing increased medical expenses in the country. Hence, it is important for elderly citizens to check health condition at home, and to care the health conditions through daily monitoring. Given this circumstances, we developed a novel pressure pulse wave meter based on a bidirectional condenser microphone. This novel pressure pulse wave meter device is used as a measuring instrument of health conditions.

Keywords: bidirectional microphone, pressure pulse wave meter, health condition, novel sensor device

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17 Signal On-Off Ratio and Output Frequency Analysis of Semiconductor Electron-Interference Device

Authors: Tomotaka Aoki, Isao Tomita

Abstract:

We examined the on-off ratio and frequency components of output signals from an electron-interference device made of GaAs/AlₓGa₁₋ₓAs by solving the time-dependent Schrödinger's equation on conducting electrons in the channel waveguide of the device. For electron-wave modulation, a periodic voltage of frequency f was applied to the channel. Furthermore, we examined the voltage-amplitude dependence of the signals in time and frequency domains and found that large applied voltage deformed the output-signal waveform and created additional side modes (frequencies) near the modulation frequency f and that there was a trade-off between on-off ratio and side-mode creation.

Keywords: electrical conduction, electron interference, frequency spectrum, on-off ratio

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16 Segmental Motion of Polymer Chain at Glass Transition Probed by Single Molecule Detection

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

The glass transition phenomenon has been extensively studied for a long time. The glass transition of polymer materials is assigned to the transition of the dynamics of the chain backbone segment. However, the detailed mechanism of the transition behavior of the segmental motion is still unclear. In the current work, the single molecule detection technique was employed to reveal the trajectory of the molecular motion of the single polymer chain. The center segment of poly(butyl methacrylate) chain was labeled by a perylenediimide dye molecule and observed by a highly sensitive fluorescence microscope in a defocus condition. The translational and rotational diffusion of the center segment in a single polymer chain was analyzed near the glass transition temperature. The direct observation of the individual polymer chains revealed the intermittent behavior of the segmental motion, indicating the spatial inhomogeneity.

Keywords: glass transition, molecular motion, polymer materials, single molecule

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15 Forecasting the Influences of Information and Communication Technology on the Structural Changes of Japanese Industrial Sectors: A Study Using Statistical Analysis

Authors: Ubaidillah Zuhdi, Shunsuke Mori, Kazuhisa Kamegai

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to forecast the influences of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the structural changes of Japanese economies based on Leontief Input-Output (IO) coefficients. This study establishes a statistical analysis to predict the future interrelationships among industries. We employ the Constrained Multivariate Regression (CMR) model to analyze the historical changes of input-output coefficients. Statistical significance of the model is then tested by Likelihood Ratio Test (LRT). In our model, ICT is represented by two explanatory variables, i.e. computers (including main parts and accessories) and telecommunications equipment. A previous study, which analyzed the influences of these variables on the structural changes of Japanese industrial sectors from 1985-2005, concluded that these variables had significant influences on the changes in the business circumstances of Japanese commerce, business services and office supplies, and personal services sectors. The projected future Japanese economic structure based on the above forecast generates the differentiated direct and indirect outcomes of ICT penetration.

Keywords: forecast, ICT, industrial structural changes, statistical analysis

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14 A Propose of Personnel Assessment Method Including a Two-Way Assessment for Evaluating Evaluators and Employees

Authors: Shunsuke Saito, Kazuho Yoshimoto, Shunichi Ohmori, Sirawadee Arunyanart

Abstract:

In this paper, we suggest a mechanism of assessment that rater and Ratee (or employees) to convince. There are many problems exist in the personnel assessment. In particular, we were focusing on the three. (1) Raters are not sufficiently recognized assessment point. (2) Ratee are not convinced by the mechanism of assessment. (3) Raters (or Evaluators) and ratees have empathy. We suggest 1: Setting of "understanding of the assessment points." 2: Setting of "relative assessment ability." 3: Proposal of two-way assessment mechanism to solve these problems. As a prerequisite, it is assumed that there are multiple raters. This is because has been a growing importance of multi-faceted assessment. In this model, it determines the weight of each assessment point evaluators by the degree of understanding and assessment ability of raters and ratee. We used the ANP (Analytic Network Process) is a theory that an extension of the decision-making technique AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process). ANP can be to address the problem of forming a network and assessment of Two-Way is possible. We apply this technique personnel assessment, the weights of rater of each point can be reasonably determined. We suggest absolute assessment for Two-Way assessment by ANP. We have verified that the consent of the two approaches is higher than conventional mechanism. Also, human resources consultant we got a comment about the application of the practice.

Keywords: personnel evaluation, pairwise comparison, analytic network process (ANP), two-ways

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13 Rehabilitation Robot in Primary Walking Pattern Training for SCI Patient at Home

Authors: Taisuke Sakaki, Toshihiko Shimokawa, Nobuhiro Ushimi, Koji Murakami, Yong-Kwun Lee, Kazuhiro Tsuruta, Kanta Aoki, Kaoru Fujiie, Ryuji Katamoto, Atsushi Sugyo

Abstract:

Recently attention has been focused on incomplete spinal cord injuries (SCI) to the central spine caused by pressure on parts of the white matter conduction pathway, such as the pyramidal tract. In this paper, we focus on a training robot designed to assist with primary walking-pattern training. The target patient for this training robot is relearning the basic functions of the usual walking pattern; it is meant especially for those with incomplete-type SCI to the central spine, who are capable of standing by themselves but not of performing walking motions. From the perspective of human engineering, we monitored the operator’s actions to the robot and investigated the movement of joints of the lower extremities, the circumference of the lower extremities, and exercise intensity with the machine. The concept of the device was to provide mild training without any sudden changes in heart rate or blood pressure, which will be particularly useful for the elderly and disabled. The mechanism of the robot is modified to be simple and lightweight with the expectation that it will be used at home.

Keywords: training, rehabilitation, SCI patient, welfare, robot

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12 Single-Molecule Analysis of Structure and Dynamics in Polymer Materials by Super-Resolution Technique

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

The physical properties of polymer materials are dependent on the conformation and molecular motion of a polymer chain. Therefore, the structure and dynamic behavior of the single polymer chain have been the most important concerns in the field of polymer physics. However, it has been impossible to directly observe the conformation of the single polymer chain in a bulk medium. In the current work, the novel techniques to study the conformation and dynamics of a single polymer chain are proposed. Since a fluorescence method is extremely sensitive, the fluorescence microscopy enables the direct detection of a single molecule. However, the structure of the polymer chain as large as 100 nm cannot be resolved by conventional fluorescence methods because of the diffraction limit of light. In order to observe the single chains, we developed the labeling method of polymer materials with a photo-switchable dye and the super-resolution microscopy. The real-space conformational analysis of single polymer chains with the spatial resolution of 15-20 nm was achieved. The super-resolution microscopy enables us to obtain the three-dimensional coordinates; therefore, we succeeded the conformational analysis in three dimensions. The direct observation by the nanometric optical microscopy would reveal the detailed information on the molecular processes in the various polymer systems.

Keywords: polymer materials, single molecule, super-resolution techniques, conformation

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11 Nano-Particle of π-Conjugated Polymer for Near-Infrared Bio-Imaging

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

Molecular imaging has attracted much attention recently, which visualizes biological molecules, cells, tissue, and so on. Among various in vivo imaging techniques, the fluorescence imaging method has been widely employed as a useful modality for small animals in pre-clinical researches. However, the higher signal intensity is needed for highly sensitive in vivo imaging. The objective of the current study is the development of a fluorescent imaging agent with high brightness for the tumor imaging of a mouse. The strategy to enhance the fluorescence signal of a bio-imaging agent is the increase of the absorption of the excitation light and the fluorescence conversion efficiency. We developed a nano-particle fluorescence imaging agent consisting of a π-conjugated polymer emitting a fluorescence signal in a near infrared region. A large absorption coefficient and high emission intensity at a near infrared optical window for biological tissue enabled highly sensitive in vivo imaging with a tumor-targeting ability by an EPR (enhanced permeation and retention) effect. The signal intensity from the π-conjugated fluorescence imaging agent is larger by two orders of magnitude compared to a quantum dot, which has been known as the brightest imaging agent. The π-conjugated polymer nano-particle would be a promising candidate in the in vivo imaging of small animals.

Keywords: fluorescence, conjugated polymer, in vivo imaging, nano-particle, near-infrared

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10 Development of Polymer Nano-Particles as in vivo Imaging Agents for Photo-Acoustic Imaging

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

Molecular imaging has attracted much attention to visualize a tumor site in a living body on the basis of biological functions. A fluorescence in vivo imaging technique has been widely employed as a useful modality for small animals in pre-clinical researches. However, it is difficult to observe a site deep inside a body because of a short penetration depth of light. A photo-acoustic effect is a generation of a sound wave following light absorption. Because the sound wave is less susceptible to the absorption of tissues, an in vivo imaging method based on the photoacoustic effect can observe deep inside a living body. The current study developed an in vivo imaging agent for a photoacoustic imaging method. Nano-particles of poly(lactic acid) including indocyanine dye were developed as bio-compatible imaging agent with strong light absorption. A tumor site inside a mouse body was successfully observed in a photo-acoustic image. A photo-acoustic imaging with polymer nano-particle agent would be a powerful method to visualize a tumor.

Keywords: nano-particle, photo-acoustic effect, polymer, dye, in vivo imaging

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9 Characterizing Disparity of COVID-19 Infection Rates with City Level Demographic and Regional Features

Authors: Emi Aoki, Arkajyoti Sinha, Kavitha Chandra, Charles Thompson

Abstract:

A statistical analysis and characterization of COVID-19 positive cases as a function of race, demographic and regional features is presented for the state of Wisconsin. Of particular interest is the identification of the population and places where a disproportional rate of infections occurred. The data analyzed include the daily counts of positive cases disaggregated by race and ethnicity at the city level and data from Census.gov related to city-level regional and population demographics. A time-series representation of the deviation of infected cases relative to its population is derived for a year of data ranging from October 2020 to October 2021. The time series exhibits non-stationary features leading to a time-varying analysis of its statistical features. Examining the infection rates for Black/African American (BAA) and Hispanic/Latino cases, it is found that typically cities with a lower proportion of its population of color experience rates of COVID-19 that were disproportional to their population percentage. Methods for identifying cities that show a persistent trend for a higher than expected number of positive test cases are presented.

Keywords: COVID-19, statistical analysis, ranking, time series, demographic factors

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8 Benzpyrimoxan: An Insecticide for the Control of Rice Plant Hoppers

Authors: E. Satoh, R. Kasahara, T. Aoki, K. Fukatsu, D. Venkata Ramanarao, H. Harayama, T. Murata, A. Suwa

Abstract:

Rice plant hoppers (Hemiptera: Delphacidae) have been causing extensive economic damage in rice and are considered as serious threat in rice producing countries of Asia. They have developed resistance to major groups of chemical insecticide, and severe outbreaks occur commonly throughout Asia. To control these nuisance pests, Nihon Nohyaku Co., Ltd., recently discovered an insecticide, benzpyrimoxan (proposed ISO name), which is under development as NNI-1501 (development code). Benzpyrimoxan has a unique chemical structure which contains benzyloxy and cyclic acetal groups on pyrimidine moiety (5-(1,3-dioxan-2-yl)-4-[4- (trifluoromethyl)benzyloxy]pyrimidine). In order to clarify the biological properties of benzpyrimoxan, we conducted several experiments and found the following results. Benzpyrimoxan has high activity against nymphal stages of rice plant hoppers without any adulticidal activity. It provides excellent and long lasting control against rice plant hoppers, including populations that have developed resistance to several other chemical groups of insecticide. The study on its mode of action is undergoing. These features highlight the versatility of this insecticide as an effective and valuable tool from the viewpoints of insecticide resistance management and integrated pest management program. With the use of benzpyrimoxan, farmers shall be able to lead the best yield potential by keeping the population density of rice plant hoppers and associated virus diseases under control.

Keywords: acetal, benzpyrimoxan, insecticide, NNI-1501, pyrimidine, rice plant hoppers

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7 Segmental Dynamics of Poly(Alkyl Methacrylate) Chain in Ultra-Thin Spin-Cast Films

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

Polymeric materials are often used in a form of thin film such as food wrap and surface coating. In such the applications, polymer films thinner than 100 nm have been often used. The thickness of such the ultra-thin film is less than the unperturbed size of a polymer chain; therefore, the polymer chain in an ultra-thin film is strongly constrained. However, the details on the constrained dynamics of polymer molecules in ultra-thin films are still unclear. In the current study, the segmental dynamics of single polymer chain was directly investigated by fluorescence microscopy. The individual chains of poly(alkyl methacrylate) labeled by a perylenediimide dye molecule were observed by a highly sensitive fluorescence microscope in a defocus condition. The translational and rotational diffusion of the center segment in a single polymer chain was directly analyzed. The segmental motion in a thin film with a thickness of 10 nm was found to be suppressed compared to that in a bulk state. The detailed analysis of the molecular motion revealed that the diffusion rate of the in-plane rotation was similar to the thin film and the bulk; on the other hand, the out-of-plane motion was restricted in a thin film. This result indicates that the spatial restriction in an ultra-thin film thinner than the unperturbed chain dimension alters the dynamics of individual molecules in a polymer system.

Keywords: polymer materials, single molecule, molecular motion, fluorescence microscopy, super-resolution techniques

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6 Generation Mechanism of Opto-Acoustic Wave from in vivo Imaging Agent

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki

Abstract:

The optoacoustic effect is the energy conversion phenomenon from light to sound. In recent years, this optoacoustic effect has been utilized for an imaging agent to visualize a tumor site in a living body. The optoacoustic imaging agent absorbs the light and emits the sound signal. The sound wave can propagate in a living organism with a small energy loss; therefore, the optoacoustic imaging method enables the molecular imaging of the deep inside of the body. In order to improve the imaging quality of the optoacoustic method, the more signal intensity is desired; however, it has been difficult to enhance the signal intensity of the optoacoustic imaging agent because the fundamental mechanism of the signal generation is unclear. This study deals with the mechanism to generate the sound wave signal from the optoacoustic imaging agent following the light absorption by experimental and theoretical approaches. The optoacoustic signal efficiency for the nano-particles consisting of metal and polymer were compared, and it was found that the polymer particle was better. The heat generation and transfer process for optoacoustic agents of metal and polymer were theoretically examined. It was found that heat generated in the metal particle rapidly transferred to the water medium, whereas the heat in the polymer particle was confined in itself. The confined heat in the small particle induces the massive volume expansion, resulting in the large optoacoustic signal for the polymeric particle agent. Thus, we showed that heat confinement is a crucial factor in designing the highly efficient optoacoustic imaging agent.

Keywords: nano-particle, opto-acoustic effect, in vivo imaging, molecular imaging

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5 Angiogenic, Cytoprotective, and Immunosuppressive Properties of Human Amnion and Chorion-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Authors: Kenichi Yamahara, Makiko Ohshima, Shunsuke Ohnishi, Hidetoshi Tsuda, Akihiko Taguchi, Toshihiro Soma, Hiroyasu Ogawa, Jun Yoshimatsu, Tomoaki Ikeda

Abstract:

We have previously reported the therapeutic potential of rat fetal membrane(FM)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) using various rat models including hindlimb ischemia, autoimmune myocarditis, glomerulonephritis, renal ischemia-reperfusion injury, and myocardial infarction. In this study, 1) we isolated and characterized MSCs from human amnion and chorion; 2) we examined their differences in the expression profile of growth factors and cytokines; and 3) we investigated the therapeutic potential and difference of these MSCs using murine hindlimb ischemia and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) models. Isolated MSCs from both amnion and chorion layers of FM showed similar morphological appearance, multipotency, and cell-surface antigen expression. Conditioned media obtained from amnion- and chorion-derived MSCs inhibited cell death caused by serum starvation or hypoxia in endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes. Amnion and chorion MSCs secreted significant amounts of angiogenic factors including HGF, IGF-1, VEGF, and bFGF, although differences in the cellular expression profile of these soluble factors were observed. Transplantation of human amnion or chorion MSCs significantly increased blood flow and capillary density in a murine hindlimb ischemia model. In addition, compared to human chorion MSCs, human amnion MSCs markedly reduced T-lymphocyte proliferation with the enhanced secretion of PGE2, and improved the pathological situation of a mouse model of GVHD disease. Our results highlight that human amnionand chorion-derived MSCs, which showed differences in their soluble factor secretion and angiogenic/immuno-suppressive function, could be ideal cell sources for regenerative medicine.

Keywords: amnion, chorion, fetal membrane, mesenchymal stem cells

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4 Structural Analysis of Polymer Thin Films at Single Macromolecule Level

Authors: Hiroyuki Aoki, Toru Asada, Tomomi Tanii

Abstract:

The properties of a spin-cast film of a polymer material are different from those in the bulk material because the polymer chains are frozen in an un-equilibrium state due to the rapid evaporation of the solvent. However, there has been little information on the un-equilibrated conformation and dynamics in a spin-cast film at the single chain level. The real-space observation of individual chains would provide direct information to discuss the morphology and dynamics of single polymer chains. The recent development of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy methods allows the conformational analysis of single polymer chain. In the current study, the conformation of a polymer chain in a spin-cast film by the super-resolution microscopy. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) with the molecular weight of 2.2 x 10^6 was spin-cast onto a glass substrate from toluene and chloroform. For the super-resolution fluorescence imaging, a small amount of the PMMA labeled by rhodamine spiroamide dye was added. The radius of gyration (Rg) was evaluated from the super-resolution fluorescence image of each PMMA chain. The mean-square-root of Rg was 48.7 and 54.0 nm in the spin-cast films prepared from the toluene and chloroform solutions, respectively. On the other hand, the chain dimension in a bulk state (a thermally annealed 10- μm-thick sample) was observed to be 43.1 nm. This indicates that the PMMA chain in the spin-cast film takes an expanded conformation compared to the unperturbed chain and that the chain dimension is dependent on the solvent quality. In a good solvent, the PMMA chain has an expanded conformation by the excluded volume effect. The polymer chain is frozen before the relaxation from an un-equilibrated expanded conformation to an unperturbed one by the rapid solvent evaporation.

Keywords: chain conformation, polymer thin film, spin-coating, super-resolution optical microscopy

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3 Shaped Crystal Growth of Fe-Ga and Fe-Al Alloy Plates by the Micro Pulling down Method

Authors: Kei Kamada, Rikito Murakami, Masahiko Ito, Mototaka Arakawa, Yasuhiro Shoji, Toshiyuki Ueno, Masao Yoshino, Akihiro Yamaji, Shunsuke Kurosawa, Yuui Yokota, Yuji Ohashi, Akira Yoshikawa

Abstract:

Techniques of energy harvesting y have been widely developed in recent years, due to high demand on the power supply for ‘Internet of things’ devices such as wireless sensor nodes. In these applications, conversion technique of mechanical vibration energy into electrical energy using magnetostrictive materials n have been brought to attention. Among the magnetostrictive materials, Fe-Ga and Fe-Al alloys are attractive materials due to the figure of merits such price, mechanical strength, high magnetostrictive constant. Up to now, bulk crystals of these alloys are produced by the Bridgman–Stockbarger method or the Czochralski method. Using these method big bulk crystal up to 2~3 inch diameter can be grown. However, non-uniformity of chemical composition along to the crystal growth direction cannot be avoid, which results in non-uniformity of magnetostriction constant and reduction of the production yield. The micro-pulling down (μ-PD) method has been developed as a shaped crystal growth technique. Our group have reported shaped crystal growth of oxide, fluoride single crystals with different shape such rod, plate tube, thin fiber, etc. Advantages of this method is low segregation due to high growth rate and small diffusion of melt at the solid-liquid interface, and small kerf loss due to near net shape crystal. In this presentation, we report the shaped long plate crystal growth of Fe-Ga and Fe-Al alloys using the μ-PD method. Alloy crystals were grown by the μ-PD method using calcium oxide crucible and induction heating system under the nitrogen atmosphere. The bottom hole of crucibles was 5 x 1mm² size. A <100> oriented iron-based alloy was used as a seed crystal. 5 x 1 x 320 mm³ alloy crystal plates were successfully grown. The results of crystal growth, chemical composition analysis, magnetostrictive properties and a prototype vibration energy harvester are reported. Furthermore, continuous crystal growth using powder supply system will be reported to minimize the chemical composition non-uniformity along the growth direction.

Keywords: crystal growth, micro-pulling-down method, Fe-Ga, Fe-Al

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2 Sustaining Efficiency in Electricity Distribution to Enhance Effective Human Security for the Vulnerable People in Ghana

Authors: Anthony Nyamekeh-Armah Adjei, Toshiaki Aoki

Abstract:

The unreliable and poor efficiency of electricity distribution leading to frequent power outages and high losses are the major challenge facing the power distribution sector in Ghana. Distribution system routes electricity from the power generating station at a higher voltage through the transmission grid and steps it down through the low voltage lines to end users. Approximately all electricity problems and disturbances that have increased the call for renewable and sustainable energy in recent years have their roots in the distribution system. Therefore, sustaining electricity distribution efficiency can potentially contribute to the reserve of natural energy resources use in power generation, reducing greenhouse gas emission (GHG), decreasing tariffs for consumers and effective human security. Human Security is a people-centered approach where individual human being is the principal object of concern, focuses on protecting the vital core of all human lives in ways for meeting basic needs that enhance the safety and protection of individuals and communities. The vulnerability is the diminished capacity of an individual or group to anticipate, resist and recover from the effect of natural, human-induced disaster. The research objectives are to explore the causes of frequent power outages to consumers, high losses in the distribution network and the effect of poor electricity distribution efficiency on the vulnerable (poor and ordinary) people that mostly depend on electricity for their daily activities or life to survive. The importance of the study is that in a developing country like Ghana where raising a capital for new infrastructure project is difficult, it would be beneficial to enhance the efficiency that will significantly minimize the high energy losses, reduce power outage, to ensure safe and reliable delivery of electric power to consumers to secure the security of people’s livelihood. The methodology used in this study is both interview and questionnaire survey to analyze the response from the respondents on causes of power outages and high losses facing the electricity company of Ghana (ECG) and its effect on the livelihood on the vulnerable people. Among the outcome of both administered questionnaire and the interview survey from the field were; poor maintenance of existing sub-stations, use of aging equipment, use of poor distribution infrastructure and poor metering and billing system. The main observation of this paper is that the poor network efficiency (high losses and power outages) affects the livelihood of the vulnerable people. Therefore, the paper recommends that policymakers should insist on all regulation guiding electricity distribution to improve system efficiency. In conclusion, there should be decentralization of off-grid solar PV technologies to provide a sustainable and cost-effective, which can increase daily productivity and improve the quality of life of the vulnerable people in the rural communities.

Keywords: electricity efficiency, high losses, human security, power outage

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1 Reflections on the Trajectory of an Online Literature Cafe through Its Music and Arts Activities

Authors: Mariko Hara, Mari Aoki, Takako Ito, Masao Sugita

Abstract:

Social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 crisis had a severe impact on music and art practices based in community settings. They had to re-think how to connect with their dispersed community using online tools. As the social distancing continues, there is an urgent need to investigate the possibilities of online community music and art practices. Are they sustainable actions that can have positive impacts on the community and the quality of lives of people over time? The Online Lindgren Café (hereafter ‘OLC’) is a monthly online literature event which started in June 2020. In the OLC, up to 14 members meet online to discuss the works of Astrid Lindgren and similar authors. Members come from various places in Japan and Norway, with a variety of expertise from music therapy, music education, psychotherapy, music sociology, storytelling, and theatre, and their family members join them. In these meetings, music and arts activities emerged in response to interests among the members. The resources and experiences of the members helped to develop these activities further. This paper first introduces one of the music and art activities in one specific event, a collaborative picture book-making with music, which was initiated and led by the second author. The third author chose the music, and the activity itself was recorded. This is followed by the description of a reflecting event, where the recording of the collaborative picture book-making activity was shared to facilitate further creations (drawings, haiku, and fabric weaving) as well as group reflections on the trajectories of the Online Lindgren Café. Finally, we will discuss the preliminary findings using the data collected at the reflecting event. Key findings suggest that the resource-driven approach of the OLC leveled the relationships among the intergenerational, multi-cultural, and interdisciplinary members. This enabled the members to set aside their professional and/or predominant identities, which allowed them to discover their own and others’ resources. The relaxed, unstructured, and liminal phenomenon at OLC can be regarded as a form of communitas, where members gain a sense of liberation and belonging in a different way from in-person communications. Participation from one’s home, as well as a video conferencing function that allowed the members to position themselves among the other participants in equal-sized windows, seems to have enabled members to feel safe to express themselves openly at the same time feel a sense of belonging. Furthermore, in the OLC, music and arts activities acted to inclusively connect and re-connect dispersed, intergenerational members with each other. For instance, in a music and drawing activity, music acted as a means for each member to engage in their own ‘drawing space’ while still feeling connected with the others. The positive experiences from these activities inspired the members to use similar approaches outside of the OLC. The finding suggests that, because of its resource-driven approach supported by the music and arts activities, the OLC could be developed further as a permeable and sustainable action even after any current social distancing measures are lifted.

Keywords: communitas, COVID-19, musical affordances, online community of practices, resource-driven approach

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