You don’t have enough time or money to donate in support of an important cause such as, say, AIDS research? Now there are other ways to help, with virtually no costs and no time-consuming tasks for you, as your smartphone will do all the work.
A new Android app allows smartphone and tablet users to donate their gadgets’ computing power for scientific research to fight AIDS. The combined power of all the donated gadgets will make up some sort of supercomputer that scientists will be able to use freely.
Smartphones fight AIDS with the help of an application called BOINC, short for Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, and can be downloaded for free from the Google Play app store. Since its launch on July 22, BOINC has been downloaded 30,000 times.
So how does it work? After you install the app, your smartphone will become part of a network of similar gadgets that will use their processing power together to solve various problems raised by scientists. The phones will be used at night, when they’re idle.
All you have to do is keep your phone connected to a Wi-Fi network, nearly fully charged and plugged into the power outlet, to make sure that the project will not drain the battery while it uses its idle processing power to work out solutions.
The project is sponsored by IBM’s World Community Grid and is not the first of the kind. A previous version called SETI@home and developed more than 10 years ago harnessed the idle power of computers and laptops to help scientific research programs. Since then, however, the spread of smartphones and their capabilities have greatly increased, and this is why the Android app was developed.
One of the first projects that will use the smartphone network will be FightAIDS@Home, which aims to identify new drugs to treat HIV. Over 30 million people have HIV according to recent studies.
Scientists are hoping to use the smartphone grid for other research projects as well, as it significantly lowers time and costs, as renting a supercomputer for research is generally very expensive – more than $1,000 per hour.
What do you think of the project? If you have an Android and feel your smartphone can fight AIDS and actually make a difference, you should head over to the app store and download the BOINC app right now.