Many of us have a remarkable piece of technology in our pockets, a mini computer that has more processing power than most of us know what to do with, in the form of a smartphone. And while these smartphones get a lot of use from us during the day, they tend to sit idle while we’re sleeping, except for maybe serving as our alarm clock.
Why not use that idle processing power during the night to help move scientific knowledge forward? That’s the idea behind Power Sleep, an Android app that lets users donate the services of their mobile device to scientific research.
Once the free app is downloaded, users simply plug in their device, set the alarm clock function in Power Sleep, and it begins processing data related to the decryption of protein sequences from the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database at the University of Vienna. For the rest of the night, Power Sleep uses the otherwise idle processing power in the device to advance this research, and once the user’s alarm goes off, the process ends and the resulting data is uploaded to the SIMAP database.
The data packages are small, no more than 1 MB in size, which is smaller than a single MP3 file or full-resolution photo, but the Power Sleep app still requires a WiFi connection to quickly transfer the data between the University of Vienna servers and the smartphone.
“In order to fight diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer, we need to know how proteins are created. This requires series of tests that need immense computing power and this is where Power Sleep bridges the gap between science and society.
Not only does it drive our research forward, but also allows everyone in Austria to be part of the project and to do good while they sleep. The more people who participate, the greater the effect.” – Dr Thomas Rattei, Professor of Bioinformatics at University of Vienna
Power Sleep is a collaborative effort from Samsung Austria and the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Life Sciences, and the app, which uses the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) network, could be potentially contributing to health advancements in cancer and Alzheimer’s research.
Download the free Samsung Power Sleep app at the Google Play Store, and start using the alarm clock that does good while you sleep.
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