Sony is hoping to mobilise its army of smartphone users in the fight against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, with the help of the new ‘Folding@Home’ app.
Previously seen on Sony’s PS3 console, Folding@Home makes use of your mobile’s idle processor power when it’s connected to a power source (at 100%) and a Wi-Fi network – so for example, when it’s plugged in at night as you’re dozing. The aim is to explore the science of protein misfolding, from where issues like Alzheimers emanate, by performing background calculations and sending the results back to Sony bods.
If you had a PS3 you’ll likely remember Folding@Home. The app was included on the console between 2007 and 2012 and during that period an estimated 15 million users contributed over 100 million hours of computation to the project. It was dubbed a ‘game changer’ by the Pande lab at Stanford University, the folks behind the project, and it’s said to have assisted disease research greatly during its time.
The smartphone app is still in limited beta at the moment, but if you’re a user of Sony’s Xperia Z, Xperia T3, T2 Ultra, M2 Aqua and C3 smartphones, you can install it from the Google Play store and begin contributing to the project right away.
According to Sony, “the processor in a single Xperia smartphone is capable of performance in the 50 to 100 GFLOP range, though around 30 GFLOPS is more typical, meaning that it would take around 50,000 phones working full time to equal the 2007 world record. With half a million smartphone users running the app, (we) could more than double the power of the entire Folding@Home network today.”
Of course, Folding@Home doesn’t just tackle Alzheimers. The whizzy science behind it also aids the study of things like cancer and Huntingdon’s disease too, and if the app is a success the project will again benefit greatly from the public’s contributions. Distributed computing projects only work through co-operation and it’s great to see a company of Sony’s stature continuing to support something which affects many of our lives.
If you want to get involved, head over to the Google Play store and download the app now.