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Concept: IPod Touch


Nonhuman primates use social touch for maintenance and reinforcement of social structures, yet the role of social touch in human bonding in different reproductive, affiliative, and kinship-based relationships remains unresolved. Here we reveal quantified, relationship-specific maps of bodily regions where social touch is allowed in a large cross-cultural dataset (N = 1,368 from Finland, France, Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom). Participants were shown front and back silhouettes of human bodies with a word denoting one member of their social network. They were asked to color, on separate trials, the bodily regions where each individual in their social network would be allowed to touch them. Across all tested cultures, the total bodily area where touching was allowed was linearly dependent (mean r(2) = 0.54) on the emotional bond with the toucher, but independent of when that person was last encountered. Close acquaintances and family members were touched for more reasons than less familiar individuals. The bodily area others are allowed to touch thus represented, in a parametric fashion, the strength of the relationship-specific emotional bond. We propose that the spatial patterns of human social touch reflect an important mechanism supporting the maintenance of social bonds.

Concepts: Human, Sociology, Primate, Interpersonal relationship, Bond, Human anatomy, IPod Touch, Human bonding


This article introduces the ArduiPod Box, an open-source device built using two main components (i.e., an iPod Touch and an Arduino microcontroller), developed as a low-cost alternative to the standard operant conditioning chamber, or “Skinner box.” Because of its affordability, the ArduiPod Box provides an opportunity for educational institutions with small budgets seeking to set up animal laboratories for research and instructional purposes. A pilot experiment is also presented, which shows that the ArduiPod Box, in spite of its extraordinary simplicity, can be effectively used to study animal learning and behavior.

Concepts: Educational psychology, Behaviorism, IPod Touch, Operant conditioning, Experimental analysis of behavior, B. F. Skinner, Operant conditioning chamber, Laboratory equipment


As the rise of tablets and smartphones move the dominant interface for digital content from mouse or trackpad to direct touchscreen interaction, work is needed to explore the role of interfaces in shaping psychological reactions to online content. This research explores the role of direct-touch interfaces in product search and choice, and isolates the touch element from other form factor changes such as screen size. Results from an experimental study using a travel recommendation Web site show that a direct-touch interface (vs. a more traditional mouse interface) increases the number of alternatives searched, and biases evaluations toward tangible attributes such as décor and furniture over intangible attributes such as WiFi and employee demeanor. Direct-touch interfaces also elevate the importance of internal and subjective satisfaction metrics such as instinct over external and objective metrics such as reviews, which in turn increases anticipated satisfaction metrics. Findings suggest that interfaces can strongly affect how online content is explored, perceived, remembered, and acted on, and further work in interface psychology could be as fruitful as research exploring the content itself.

Concepts: Psychology, IPod Touch, Personal digital assistant, User interface, Explorer, IPhone, Touchpad, Touchscreen


BACKGROUND: Smartphone use is growing exponentially and will soon become the only mobile phone handset for about 6 billion users. Smartphones are ideal marketing targets as consumers can be reached anytime, anywhere. Smartphone application (app) stores are global shops that sell apps to users all around the world. Although smartphone stores have a wide collection of health-related apps they also have a wide set of harmful apps. In this study, the availability of ‘pro-smoking’ apps in two of the largest smartphone app stores (Apple App store and Android Market) was examined. METHOD: In February 2012, we searched the Apple App Store and Android Market for pro-smoking apps, using the keywords Smoke, Cigarette, Cigar, Smoking and Tobacco. We excluded apps that were not tobacco-related and then assessed the tobacco-related apps against our inclusion criteria. RESULT: 107 pro-smoking apps were identified and classified into six categories based on functionality. 42 of these apps were from the Android Market and downloaded by over 6 million users. Some apps have explicit images of cigarette brands. CONCLUSIONS: Tobacco products are being promoted in the new ‘smartphone app’ medium which has global reach, a huge consumer base of various age groups and underdeveloped regulation. The paper also provides two examples of app store responses to country-specific laws and regulations that could be used to control the harmful contents in the app stores for individual countries.

Concepts: Tobacco, IPod Touch, Mobile phone, Smartphone, Motorola, Android, App Store, IPhone


Although the Health & Fitness category of the Apple App Store features hundreds of calorie counting apps, the extent to which popular calorie counting apps include health behavior theory is unknown.

Concepts: IPod Touch, Apple Inc., IPhone OS, App Store, IPhone, IPad, ITunes Store, Google Voice


Most psychological experimentation takes place in laboratories aiming to maximize experimental control; however, this creates artificial environments that are not representative of real-life situations. Since cognitive processes usually take place in noisy environments, they should also be tested in these contexts. The recent advent of smartphone technology provides an ideal medium for such testing. In order to examine the feasibility of mobile devices (MD) in psychological research in general, and laterality research in particular, we developed a MD version of the widely used speech laterality test, the consonant-vowel dichotic listening (DL) paradigm, for use with iPhones/iPods. First, we evaluated the retest reliability and concurrent validity of the DL paradigm in its MD version in two samples tested in controlled, laboratory settings (Experiment 1). Second, we explored its ecological validity by collecting data from the general population by means of a free release of the MD version (iDichotic) to the iTunes App Store (Experiment 2). The results of Experiment 1 indicated high reliability (r(ICC) = 0.78) and validity (r(ICC) = 0.76-0.82) of the MD version, which consistently showed the expected right ear advantage (REA). When tested in real-life settings (Experiment 2), participants (N = 167) also showed a significant REA. Importantly, the size of the REA was not dependent on whether the participants chose to listen to the syllables in their native language or not. Together, these results establish the current MD version as a valid and reliable method for administering the DL paradigm both in experimentally controlled as well as uncontrolled settings. Furthermore, the present findings support the feasibility of using smartphones in conducting large-scale field experiments.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Experiment, Validity, Laboratory, IPod Touch, App Store, IPhone


Smartphone touchscreens are known as pathogen carriers in clinical environments. However, despite a rapidly growing number of smartphone users worldwide, little is known about bacterial contamination of smartphone touchscreens in non-clinical settings. Such data are needed to better understand the hygienic relevance of these increasingly popular items. Here, 60 touchscreens of smartphones provided by randomly chosen students of a German university were sampled by directly touching them with contact agar plates. The average bacterial load of uncleaned touchscreens was 1.37 ± 0.33 CFU/cm(2). Touchscreens wiped with commercially available microfiber cloths or alcohol-impregnated lens wipes contained significantly less bacteria than uncleaned touchscreens, i.e., 0.22 ± 0.10 CFU/cm(2) and 0.06 ± 0.02 CFU/cm(2), respectively. Bacteria isolated from cleaned and uncleaned touchscreens were identified by means of MALDI Biotyping. Out of 111 bacterial isolates, 56 isolates (50 %) were identified to genus level and 27 (24 %) to species level. The vast majority of the identified bacteria were typical human skin, mouth, lung, and intestinal commensals, mostly affiliated with the genera Staphylococcus and Micrococcus. Five out of 10 identified species were opportunistic pathogens. In conclusion, the touchscreens investigated here showed low bacterial loads and a species spectrum that is typical for frequently touched surfaces in domestic and public environments, the general health risk of which is still under debate.

Concepts: Bacteria, Organism, Opportunistic infection, Pathogen, Skin, Genus, IPod Touch, Hygiene


Background Smartphone manufacturers offer mobile health monitoring technology to their customers, including apps using the built-in camera for heart rate assessment. This study aimed to test the diagnostic accuracy of such heart rate measuring apps in clinical practice. Methods The feasibility and accuracy of measuring heart rate was tested on four commercially available apps using both iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. ‘Instant Heart Rate’ (IHR) and ‘Heart Fitness’ (HF) work with contact photoplethysmography (contact of fingertip to built-in camera), while ‘Whats My Heart Rate’ (WMH) and ‘Cardiio Version’ (CAR) work with non-contact photoplethysmography. The measurements were compared to electrocardiogram and pulse oximetry-derived heart rate. Results Heart rate measurement using app-based photoplethysmography was performed on 108 randomly selected patients. The electrocardiogram-derived heart rate correlated well with pulse oximetry ( r = 0.92), IHR ( r = 0.83) and HF ( r = 0.96), but somewhat less with WMH ( r = 0.62) and CAR ( r = 0.60). The accuracy of app-measured heart rate as compared to electrocardiogram, reported as mean absolute error (in bpm ± standard error) was 2 ± 0.35 (pulse oximetry), 4.5 ± 1.1 (IHR), 2 ± 0.5 (HF), 7.1 ± 1.4 (WMH) and 8.1 ± 1.4 (CAR). Conclusions We found substantial performance differences between the four studied heart rate measuring apps. The two contact photoplethysmography-based apps had higher feasibility and better accuracy for heart rate measurement than the two non-contact photoplethysmography-based apps.

Concepts: Cardiology, Measurement, Test method, IPod Touch, Mobile phone, Smartphone, Pulse oximeter, IPhone


Because human-computer interactions are increasingly important, touch panels may require stretchability and biocompatibility in order to allow integration with the human body. However, most touch panels have been developed based on stiff and brittle electrodes. We demonstrate an ionic touch panel based on a polyacrylamide hydrogel containing lithium chloride salts. The panel is soft and stretchable, so it can sustain a large deformation. The panel can freely transmit light information because the hydrogel is transparent, with 98% transmittance for visible light. A surface-capacitive touch system was adopted to sense a touched position. The panel can be operated under more than 1000% areal strain without sacrificing its functionalities. Epidermal touch panel use on skin was demonstrated by writing words, playing a piano, and playing games.

Concepts: Electromagnetic radiation, Sodium chloride, Human body, Lithium, IPod Touch, Visible spectrum, The Panel, Panel


Previous studies have provided evidence for pain alleviating effects of segmental tactile stimulation, yet the effect of social touch and its underlying mechanism is still unexplored. Considering that the soma affects the way we think, feel and interact with others, it has been proposed that touch may communicate emotions, including empathy, interacting with the identity of the toucher. Thus, the goal of the current study was to examine the analgesic effects of social touch, and to test the moderating role of the toucher’s empathy in analgesia using an ecological paradigm. Tonic heat stimuli were administered to females. Concurrently, their partners either watched or touched their hands, a stranger touched their hands, or no one interacted with them. The results revealed diminished levels of pain during partners' touch compared to all other control conditions. Furthermore, taking into account the dyadic interaction, only during the touch condition we found (i) a significant relationship between the partners' pain ratings, (ii) a significant negative relationship between the male touchers' empathy and the pain experience of their female partners. The findings highlight the powerful analgesic effect of social touch and suggest that empathy between romantic partners may explain the pain alleviating effects of social touch.

Concepts: Male, Female, Effect, Affect, Opioid, Analgesic, IPod Touch, Hydrocodone