Vodafone puts idle smartphones to work to fight cancer

Initiative with Garvan Institute creates country’s first smartphone supercomputer for cancer research

Vodafone and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have partnered in an attempt boost cancer research using Australian smartphones while their users sleep.

The joint project involves a new app called DreamLab which uses the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public Cloud platform to download and solve small cancer research problems. The app then sends the results back to Garvan.

The process works while a smartphone is plugged in and fully charged. Vodafone said that users will participate in the project “while they sleep.”

To counteract the possible bill shock Vodafone has offered its customers free data while using the app.

According to a statement, it has the potential to greatly speed up cancer research by the institute. With 100,000 users, researchers would be able to crunch data approximately 3,000 times faster than they are currently able to.

Garvan breast cancer research group leader, Dr. Samantha Oakes, said that with the help of innovations like DreamLab, she is hopeful we will see cures of certain types of cancer in our lifetime.

“I was six years old when my brother was suspected of having bone cancer, so I understand the toll this disease takes on patients and their friends and family. The worst thing for those touched by cancer is fear; the fear of the unknown and of what’s to come,” she said.

Vodafone Foundation Australia head, Alyssa Jones, said it has never been easier for Australians to give back to a cause that means so much, to so many.

“Almost every Australian has a heartbreaking story to tell about cancer,” said Jones.

“We all want to play a part in the fight against this disease and now, with more smartphones than people, we have an opportunity to make a tangible difference.

“DreamLab is free to purchase and incredibly easy to use. Download the app and charge your phone at night. It’s really that simple.”

ARN understands that the project has been in open beta for a number of weeks with Vodafone employees using the app to test before it was released to the general public.



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