We all likes to feel altruistic, but actually lending support generally takes money or physical labor that may not fit into your budget or schedule. A new application on Android devices, however, will allow you to help scientific research by just connecting a smartphone or tablet to a Wi-Fi connection and leaving the power on.
The new Android app, named BOINC (which stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), allows you to “donate” your mobile device’s idle processing power to help computers analyze data gathered for six different projects. Those projects include FightAIDS@home, which aims to develop AIDS-resistant drugs, as well as Einstein@Home, which analyzes data gathered from the world’s largest radio telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, in an effort to discover radio pulsars (star remnants) in space, according to Engadget. You can also switch between projects if you find more than one that you want to help out.
The application runs in the background and is only active when a phone is connected to Wi-Fi and not being used for something else. You can also specify what power consumption conditions the application can use. For instance, you can make the program activate only when the battery life is above 50% or when the device is plugged into a power source.
The application requires you to be running at least Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). If the new app is successful, an iOS version may be developed in the future, according to the FAQ on the BOINC website.
BOINC follows in the footsteps of other charitable applications like Folding@Home for the PlayStation 3, which allowed you to donate your gaming console’s extra power to help process data required for protein folding. That project was a rousing success and paved the way for the large-scale computing power-sharing we see today.
The BOINC app is currently available for Android phones and tablets on the Google Play store and can also be found in the Amazon app store for users who want to use their Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD to run the application.
It is estimated that there are over a billion devices running Android in use today, and their combined processing power would dwarf that of even the world’s most advanced supercomputer. If just a fraction of Android users could donate their device’s idle processing power by using this new android app, it could help scientists make amazing leaps and bounds.
Image courtesy of Flickr