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Computación y Sistemas

Print version ISSN 1405-5546

Comp. y Sist. vol.12 n.1 México Jul./Sep. 2008


Ambient Computing Research for Healthcare: Challenges, Opportunities and Experiences


Investigación en Computación Ambiental para la Salud: Retos, Oportunidades y Experiencias


Jesús Favela1, Ana I. Martínez1, Marcela D. Rodríguez2 and Víctor M. González3


1 CICESE, Ensenada, México e–mails:,,

2 UABC, Mexicali, México e–mail:,

3 University of Manchester, UK e:mail:


Article received on April 15, 2008
Accepted on June 20, 2008



Ambient computing refers to the development of physical environments enhanced through information and communication technology to better serve the needs of users. In contrast with traditional computer applications, ambient computing offers a vision in which computer support migrates from the desktop to the physical environment, thus demanding natural means of interaction, in contrast with the traditional keyboard and mouse. This approach to computing is particularly well suited for working environments characterized by local mobility, frequent activity switching, and intense collaboration, as it is often the case in healthcare. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of research conducted in Mexico for several years towards the development of an ambient computing environment in support of hospital work, the iHospital. The paper describes the research methodology used, major findings, ambient computing technology that has been designed and developed as a response to the needs identified, and results from its evaluation with potential users.

Keywords: Ambient Computing, Pervasive Healthcare, Medical Informatics.



La computación ambiental involucra el desarrollo de ambientes físicos enriquecidos con tecnologías de información y comunicaciones para asistir a las necesidades de los usuarios. En contraste con aplicaciones computacionales tradicionales, la computación ambiental ofrece una visión en la que el apoyo computacional migra del escritorio al entorno físico, demandando con ello modos naturales de interacción, en lugar de utilizar el teclado y el ratón. Este modelo de computación es particularmente adecuado para ambientes de trabajo caracterizados por movilidad local, cambio frecuente de actividades, e intensa colaboración, como sucede comúnmente en el sector salud. Este artículo ofrece una visión del trabajo de investigación que se ha realizado en México durante varios años para desarrollar un entorno de cómputo ambiental en apoyo al trabajo hospitalario, concepto al que hemos denominado, iHospital. El artículo describe la metodología de investigación que se ha seguido, algunos de los principales resultados, tecnología de cómputo ambiental diseñada y desarrollada en respuesta a las necesidades identificadas, y resultados de su evaluación con usuarios potenciales.

Palabras clave: Computación Ambiental, Computación Ubicua en Salud, Informática Médica.





We thank the following students who have contributed to our research in ambient computing over the last years: Miguel A. Muñoz, Alfredo Preciado, Monica Tentori, Irma Amaya, Elisa Moran, Luis A. Castro, Jesús F. Camacho, Mryna S. Zamarripa, Carlos Córdova, Gilberto Borrego, Dariazalia Sánchez, Daniela Segura and David A. Mejía. This research would not have been possible without the help of Julia Mora and Simitro Rojas from IMSS in Ensenada México. This work was partially funded by UCMexus under grants Conacyt–CN–02–60, Conacyt–U–40799, and Conacyt–CO3–42447.



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