Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Folding@Home Now Lets Your Smartphone Cure Diseases While You Sleep

For most of the world, when you sleep your electronics do too. However, for those of us that are geeky enough to know you know that doesn't have to be the case. Thanks to some amazing distributed computing projects you can use those 'sleeping' devices to actually do some really important work!

Distributed computing uses the power of a network of connected devices to spread out the workloads needed to solve computational problems. One such problem is that of protein folding, which happens in only a few milliseconds, too fast for even the most powerful lab computer. While the immediate answer might be "build a more powerful computer", another solution is the more efficient use of building a DC project. Folding@Home is one such project.

While we are all aware of the raw computing power of our PCs, devices like your Sony PS3 actually pack a great deal of computing prowess. For years Folding@Home users have connected these devices to the distributed computing network to help Stanford University scientists studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and many cancers by simply running a piece of software on their devices.

Now, thanks to a partnership between Sony and  Dr Vijay Pande, a doctor in biology and structural chemistry at Stanford, and a key member of the Folding@Home team – the collective power stored in your smartphone can be used to dramatically speed up the fight against diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The team hopes that the new Folding@Home Android app will significantly reduce the time needed to conduct their research. “In order to publish a new paper, something that represents a genuine step forward, we would need about 150,000 “phone – days”, according to Dr. Pande that’s one phone running 24/7. Split that up amongst 10,000 phones though and all of a sudden you’re looking at two weeks.

For now, the beta version of the Folding@Home Android app will only be compatible with Sony Xperia Z series smartphones as well as the Xperia T3, T2 Ultra, M2 Aqua and C3. It is available for download from Google Play here. Following the initial Beta release, it will be made available for all smartphones running Android 4.4 and above early in 2015.

For those of you that are looking for more information or would like to use your PC or PS3 checkout the Folding@Home Wiki or the Folding@Home main site. If like me you are a Samsung owner and want your phone to 'do good while it sleeps' you can checkout the Samsung Power Sleep app which is a similar project backed by Samsung and the University if Vienna.

Source: Sony Mobile Communications

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