How Idle Android Phones Can Be Used For Donating Computing Power To Science

Posted Jul 23, 2013

As your Android phone charges when you sleep, you can use that idle time to donate computing power towards scientific research.  University of California Berkeley released an app on Monday called BOINC.  BOINC lets you donate your phone’s idle computing power to “crunch numbers for projects that could lead to breakthroughs ranging from novel medical therapies to the discovery of new stars.”

You can decide which project to support across several options.  One of the options is called Einstein@Home, which is a project dedicated to finding spinning stars called pulsars.  The FightAIDS@Home project focuses on finding effective AIDS therapies.  Asteroids@home is run by Charles University in Prague to study the spin and shape of asteroids.  The app also supports SETI@home project, which analyzes radio telescope data that searches for intelligent signals from space.

This app was launched by the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).  BOINC is known for developing software that supports volunteer computing efforts across the globe.  The BOINC app lets projects tap into unused processing power that is donated by users around the world to analyze data without having to use costly servers.

The BOINC Android app was funded by the Max Planck Institute, Google, and the National Science Foundation.  The data is consumed only when your device is plugged in and is over 95% charged that way your battery is not drained when you use your phone the most.  Data is only transferred through WiFi so that your data plans are not affected.  This app works on Android devices that run on Gingerbread 2.3 or higher.

“There are about a billion Android devices right now, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers,” stated the app’s developer and research scientist at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab David Anderson. “Mobile devices are the wave of the future in many ways, including the raw computing power they can provide to solve computationally difficult problems.”

A BOINC app may be created for the iPhone and iPad next.  You can download the app from Google Play now.