July 24, 2013
New App Lets Idle Android Devices Assist In Science Projects
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Developed by researchers at the University of California Berkeley, BOINC lets users of Android 2.3 Gingerbread or higher donate their 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," the university said in its announcement.
The app is the creation of the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (or BOINC) initiative, and allows projects to utilize unused processing power donated by computer users around the world to analyze data without the need for expensive supercomputers.
To minimize any inconvenience to users, BOINC only computes when a device is plugged in and more than 95 percent charged, so it won't run down battery life, and only transfers data over Wi-Fi so it won't tear through a user's data allotment.
"There are about a billion Android devices right now, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers," said David Anderson, the app's creator and a research scientist at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab, in a statement.
"Mobile devices are the wave of the future in many ways, including the raw computing power they can provide to solve computationally difficult problems."
Other projects supported by the BOINC include Asteroids@home, run by Charles University in Prague to study the shape and spin of asteroids, along with the privately run math and physics projects OProject@Home and Yoyo@home.
In the future, BOINC is expected to support UC Berkeley's SETI@home project, which analyzes radio telescope data in search of intelligent signals from space.
For those without an Android device, the researchers said a BOINC app for Apple products may be Anderson's next project.