320 research outputs found

    Emoty: an Emotionally Sensitive Conversational Agent for People with Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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    Our research aims at exploiting the advances in conversational technology to support people with Neurodevelopmental Disorder (NDD). NDD is a group of conditions that are characterized by severe deficits in the cognitive, emotional and motor areas and produce severe impairments in communication and social functioning. This paper presents the design, technology and exploratory evaluation of Emoty, a spoken Conversational Agent (CA) created specifically for individuals with NDD. The goal of Emoty is to help these persons enhancing communication abilities related to emotional recognition and expression, which are fundamental in any form of human relationship. The system exploits emotion detection capabilities based on the semantics of the speech by calling the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer API and from the harmonic features of the audio thanks to an “all-of-us” Deep Learning model. The design and evaluation of Emoty are based on the close collaboration among computer engineers and specialists in NDD (psychologists, neurological doctors, educators)

    Screening of a Combinatorial Library of Organic Polymers for the Solid-Phase Extraction of Patulin from Apple Juice

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    Patulin is a water-soluble mycotoxin produced by several species of fungi. Governmental bodies have placed it under scrutiny for its potential negative health effects, and maximum residue limits are fixed in specific food matrices to protect consumers’ health. Confirmatory analysis of patulin in complex food matrices can be a difficult task, and sample clean-up treatments are frequently necessary before instrumental analyses. With the aim of simplifying the clean-up step, we prepared a 256-member combinatorial polymeric library based on 16 functional monomers, four cross-linkers and four different porogenic solvents. The library was screened for the binding towards patulin in different media (acetonitrile and citrate buffer at pH 3.2), with the goal of identifying polymer formulations with good binding properties towards the target compound. As a proof of concept, a methacrylic acid-co-pentaerithrytole tetraacrylate polymer prepared in chloroform was successfully used as a solid-phase extraction material for the clean-up and extraction of patulin from apple juice. Clean chromatographic patterns and acceptable recoveries were obtained for juice spiked with patulin at concentration levels of 25 (64 ± 12%), 50 (83 ± 5.6%) and 100 ÎŒg L−1 (76 ± 4.5%). The within-day and between-day reproducibility evaluated at a concentration level of 25 ÎŒg L−1 were 5.6 and 7.6%, respectively

    Affinity Capillary Electrochromatography of Molecularly Imprinted Thin Layers Grafted onto Silica Capillaries Using a Surface-Bound Azo-Initiator and Living Polymerization

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    Molecularly imprinted thin layers were prepared in silica capillaries by using two different surface polymerization strategies, the first using 4,4â€Č-azobis(4-cyanovaleric acid) as a surface-coupled radical initiator, and the second, S-carboxypropyl-S’-benzyltrithiocarbonate as a reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) agent in combination with 2,2â€Č-azobisisobutyronitrile as a free radical initiator. The ability to generate imprinted thin layers was tested on two different polymerization systems: (i) a 4-vinylpyridine/ethylene dimethacrylate (4VP-EDMA) in methanol-water solution with 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) as a template; and (ii) methacrylic acid/ethylene dimethacrylate (MAA-EDMA) in a chloroform solution with warfarin as the template molecule. The binding properties of the imprinted capillaries were studied and compared with those of the corresponding non-imprinted polymer coated capillaries by injecting the template molecule and by measuring its migration times relative to a neutral and non-retained marker. The role of running buffer hydrophobicity on recognition was investigated by studying the influence of varying buffer acetonitrile concentration. The 2,4,5-T-imprinted capillary showed molecular recognition based on a reversed phase mechanism, with a decrease of the template recognition in the presence of higher acetonitrile content; whereas warfarin-imprinted capillaries showed a bell-shaped trend upon varying the acetonitrile percentage, illustrating different mechanisms underlying imprinted polymer-ligand recognition. Importantly, the results demonstrated the validity of affinity capillary electrochromatography (CEC) to screen the binding properties of imprinted layers
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