Mobile Health Applications

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Mission statement

Mobile systems, such as mobile phones and handheld computers, provide a very promising platform for mobile healthcare. Already very powerful, they can collect user information and deliver health-promoting messages in a non-interruptive fashion through a wireless body-area network; they can communicate with medical services through increasingly high-speed wireless Internet connectivity. However, a multidisciplinary endeavor is required to achieve their potentials for healthcare.

While biomedical sensor technologies, clinical studies, and medical informatics are important part of this endeavor, we intend to build the mobile computing infrastructure for healthcare. Our research seeks to address the fundamental research challenges in energy efficiency, security, and human-computer interaction through an implementation-driven approach. Our key medical collaborators include The Abramson Center for the Future of Health (Drs. Dacso and Crowder), Dept. of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine (Drs. Cheryl Anderson and Nancy Butte), School of Health Information Science, Univ. of Texas-Houston (Dr. Zhang), and  Univ. of Texas Dental Branch at Houston (Dr. Walji).

Rice Orbit platform

Our test-bed is the Rice Orbit platform that consists of three levels of computing. Wireless sensors and ambient user interfaces are the first level; they are the interface between the computing infrastructure and the human user. A mobile system, a mobile phone in the current prototype, is the second level; it manages the first level devices through a wireless body-area network (WBAN) and communicates with an Internet server. The internet server is the third level; it provides the ultimate capacity in computing  and medical knowledge. It also serves as the interface between the user and the healthcare personnel. The Orbit platform serves as an evolving test-bed for us to conduct fundamental research.


Health Diary

Health Diary collects health information of interest and report it real-timely. It will provide drastically more data for diagnosing diseases and identifying unhealthy lifestyles. Intended for not only people with special needs but everyone, it run continuously with minimal intrusion to user daily activities.

Health Diary poses many design challenges to mobile computing. Using the Orbit platform as the test-bed, we are investigating system support for energy-efficient wireless communication, context-aware resource management, and minimalist sensor node design.


Chronicare aims at using mobile systems like the Orbit platform to assist people with chronic illness. Chronic diseases have become a prominent problem in public health, especially in the developed world, due to lifestyle changes, longevity, and environmental factors. Unfortunately, existing health care systems are oriented toward acute diseases rather than chronic ones. Care of chronic illness requires continual interaction between the patients and medical personnel for an extended period of time. It also requires the patients to take more responsibilities and initiatives. Mobile computing infrastructures can help meet these requirements. Again, using the Orbit platform, we are investigating the fundamental research issues in human-computer interaction, energy-efficient design, and context-awareness for this application.

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