Vodafone wants your phone – for cancer research

DreamLab comes to NZ

Vodafone has announced the local launch of a program to use the processing power on mobile phones — iOS and Android — to help with cancer research.

Any phone owner can participate in the program by downloading the DreamLab app from the Apple or Google app store, but only Vodafone customers will be exempt from any charges resulting from the app’s data usage.

Vodafone says its app “harnesses [the phone’s] processing power, creates a virtual super computer and uses it to crunch complex cancer research calculations.”

According to Vodafone, 33 devices using the app “enables the analysis of the same amount of data as quickly as a single CPU core of a typical research organisation’s in-house supercomputer.”

Vodafone says the app was developed in partnership with the Australian-based Garvan Institute of Medical Research, which “has pioneered world-class cancer genomics research.” However, it has not provided any details of what research projects will make use of the processing power harnessed by DreamLab.

Vodafone is also seeking corporate sponsors for the project and, according to the DreamLab website, has to date signed up WM Wavemaker, Toll, NZ Rugby, FCB NZ, Otago Polytechnic, Q-Sol, the NZ Chamber of Commerce.

The app works only when the phone is connected to a charging source and has mobile network or WiFi connectivity. It also only operates “while you sleep” according to Vodafone.

To promote the app it has launched a ‘National Sleep-in Day’, back up with a YouTube video from singer Anika Moa, and is giving its staff an extra hour’s sleep by delaying start time on Friday 18 May.

Before DreamLab there was BOINC

‘Crowdsourcing’ of processing power is a long established practice Seti – the project searching for extra-terrestrial life has been using individual’s personal computers to process data for a number of years and there is now an app, BOINC, for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android that anyone can download and use to dedicate their processing power to their choice from a wide range of projects.

The BOINC project is based at the University of California, Berkeley Spaces Sciences Laboratory and has operated since 2002 with funding primarily from the US National Science Foundation.

According to its web site, over a recent period it harnessed 18.796 PetaFLOPS of processing power from 164,012 volunteers and 849,637 computers.

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