Vodafone and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia have launched DreamLab, an app that lets users share the processing power of their smartphones to analyze data related to cancer research.
As many of us head to bed, we put our smartphones on the charger where it sits unused for the rest of the night. People who DreamLab will contribute their charging devices to analyzing cancer genetic data collected by the Garvan Institute. Users can choose what kind of research they want to support (eg breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc) and set limits on data usage. In Australia, Vodafone is making this free for its subscribers as well so DreamLab won’t count against their data limits.
This model has been used in other settings, both on smartphones and computers. The application to medical research is particularly interesting now however given the rapid growth in smartphone based medical research, we could end up with enormous datasets comparable to the type of genetic data being analyzed here particular when you consider data captured by embedded smartphone sensors and wearable devices.
Just as people have proven willing to join these digital cohort studies, its likely that there would be a fairly enthusiastic response to this type of crowdsourced computing effort in parallel.