The race to find a cure for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is on. In the U.S., President Donald Trump is touting antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential option to stop the virus.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Vodafone Foundation in collaboration with Imperial College London has unveiled a new app called DreamLab that leverages a smartphone’s processing power to advance research into diseases like cancer.
Users simply need to download the application and leave it running overnight when the smartphone is not in use. The DreamLab app crowdsources processing power from users’ smartphones to form a virtual supercomputer that conducts the research.
The virtual supercomputer can apparently compute millions of calculations which would otherwise take about 300 years if performed manually. However, using the combined processing power of all smartphones, it would take just three months.
For the time being, the DreamLab team is shifting from cancer research to focus on coronavirus research under the new Corona-AI project. The project hopes to find a safe and effective cure for COVID-19.
In the initial phase, the app will use AI to surf data for existing drugs and foods with antiviral properties that may help patients suffering with coronavirus. In the second phase, it will optimize combinations of these drugs to recommend potential drug treatments and nutritional advice for coronavirus patients.
Apparently, both Vodafone and non-Vodafone users can contribute to the research. Vodafone users can simply activate the app for free either using mobile data or Wi-Fi. People in UK using other networks like EE or O2 will be asked how much data they wish to donate to power the DreamLab app, or just connect using Wi-Fi.
If everyone across the country connects, the DreamLab app can harness the collective processing power of their smartphones to potentially make a considerable difference in the fight against coronavirus, noted Helen Lamprell, board member and trustee, Vodafone UK Foundation, and general counsel and external affairs director, Vodafone UK.