Posted: 08.04.20 at 13:25 by Nick Hudson
ATHERSTONE’S smartphone users have been told they can help mankind find a cure for Covid-19 while getting their Zzzzzzzzz.
All that’s needed to “do their bit” to counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is to sign up to a research project crowdsourcing the collective computing power of a network of mobiles to analyse complex coronavirus research data.
The DreamLab app, developed by the Vodafone Foundation, pools the processing power of thousands of phone owners to create a virtual supercomputer that researchers say can carry out millions of calculations.
What would take 300 years to do manually can be retrieved in a matter of months by this method.
And the best part is once you have downloaded the app, it can be activated every night while you are asleep or when you are charging your phone.
The app, which was launched in 2017 to aid cancer research, is switching its focus for the time being to Covid-19 in the new Corona-AI project.
The collective power of those taking part then creates a virtual supercomputer, capable of processing millions of calculations.
The project uses artificial intelligence to trawl through data and look for potential treatments.
Once the research is complete, it will be made available to medical professionals, Vodafone said.
The technology will be used by researchers from Imperial College London hoping to identify how existing drugs and food-based molecules could help patients with or recovering from Covid-19.
A second phase will look to optimise combinations identified in phase one, with any insights on drug treatments or nutritional advice passed on to the medical profession.
Helen Lamprell, trustee and board member of the Vodafone UK Foundation and general counsel and external affairs director at Vodafone UK said: "We're working hard to keep the UK connected during this challenging time.
"We ask everyone to come together and harness the collective power of their smartphones by connecting to DreamLab.
"If everyone in the UK connects, we have the potential to really make a difference in the fight against Covid-19."
The app can be downloaded for free on both Apple's iOS and Android.
Dr Kirill Veselkov from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London – who is leading the research, said: "We urgently need new treatments to tackle Covid-19.
"There are existing drugs out there that might work to treat it, and the great thing about repurposing existing drugs is that we already know they are safe and therefore could get them to patients quickly.
"However, we have to do difficult and complicated analyses using artificial intelligence and all of this takes a huge amount of computing power.
"DreamLab creates a supercomputer that enables us to do this important work in a relatively short timeframe."
You don’t need to be a Vodafone customer to contribute to the research. If you are on Vodafone, you can activate the DreamLab app for free using either mobile data or Wifi connectivity.
If you’re on a different network such as O2 or EE, you will be asked how much data you would like to donate to power the app.
Using the app for six hours a night will use 500MB in a month, but users can simply connect to Wi-Fi to avoid using mobile data.
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