Android Devices Can Now Help You Become A Citizen Scientist
July 24, 2013

New App Lets Idle Android Devices Assist In Science Projects

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Android users can now become citizen scientists and even select the projects they wish to power thanks to a new app released this week called BOINC.

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.

Several project options are already available through BOINC, such as [email protected], which searches for pulsars, and [email protected], which seeks out more effective AIDS treatments.

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 [email protected], run by Charles University in Prague to study the shape and spin of asteroids, along with the privately run math and physics projects [email protected] and [email protected].

In the future, BOINC is expected to support UC Berkeley's [email protected] 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.

Additional information about BOINC can be found at UC Berkeley's FAQ page, and the app can be downloaded at Google Play.