Harnessing the power of the smartphone to cure disease

Summary:Can the power of our favorite gadget pave the way for future medical discoveries?

Crowdsourcing computational power is nothing new -- millions of people have joined in with projects all over the world that contribute power to cracking formulas or search for extraterrestrial life.

Now, IBM and the University of California, Berkeley, want to harness our mobile devices to crowdsource scientific breakthroughs of the future through the release of a mobile app called Boinc earlier this year.

Once you have downloaded the Android application, you can choose from a series of projects to contribute your smartphone's computational power to.

Current projects include:

  • Climate studies
  • Astrophysics
  • Epidemiology
  • Protein structure prediction
  • and Humanitarian research.

Until the arrival of smartphones, mobile devices simply didn't have enough power to be useful in contributing to mathematical, astrophysical and biochemistry research -- unlike personal computers.

As PC sales continue to dwindle, research teams have to find alternative sources of free computational power. As high-end smartphones can do about 1.5 billion numerical operations a second -- roughly 20 percent of a PC and improving thanks to the development of better processors -- smartphones have become an appealing alternative.

David Anderson, a research scientist at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, said:

"Intel, Nvidia, AMD are pumping R&D money into faster mobile chips. The 20 percent may go to 100 percent. Mobile hardware is going to advance faster than any other digital product area. It's really important to include mobile devices in scientific research."

The application only kicks in when the phone is charging, and so it will not interfere with your daily activities. With the enormous amount of power sitting there, these types of apps could pave the way for crowdfunded breakthroughs -- resulting in boosts to science, space, and the medical industry.

Via: Bloomberg

Image credit: Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.