How You Can Help Beat Cancer With Your Smartphone

Today I wanted to tell you about a smartphone app called DreamLab. You can download this free to your smartphone or tablet, to add its computing power to a massive cancer research project. Versions are available for both Android and Apple iOS.

DreamLab was developed by Vodafone Australia and the Garvan Insitute of Medical Research. While your smartphone is charging (typically overnight; hence the name), the app automatically downloads genetic sequencing profiles provided by the Garvan Institute. This information is then processed using your smartphone’s CPU and sent back to the Institute to be used in cancer research.

There are currently two projects you can support. The first one, Project Decode, aims to decode breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers. The second, which launched recently, is Project Genetic Profile. This aims to decode brain, lung, melanoma and sarcoma cancers.

As well as the project you wish to support, you can select how much mobile data (if any) the app uses every month. Personally I only use DreamLab with my wifi, so I have the monthly data allowance set to zero. You might, though, like to know that if VodaFone is your service provider, any data used for DreamLab processing is free of charge.

The app keeps track of how many hours of computing time you have donated to the project and the number of sequencing problems your device has solved. You can also see what proportion of the overall project has been completed. In the case of Project Decode – which I am supporting – the figure is currently 69 percent. So while the project is well past the half-way mark, there is still a fair way to go.

DreamLab is a distributed computing project, which relies on volunteers donating spare processing capacity on their computers and mobile devices to a specific cause. One of the best-known such projects is SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which uses this method to search for extra-terrestrial life by analyzing radio waves emanating from space. You can read more about this and other distributed computing projects (including DreamLab) on this Wikipedia page.

In conclusion, I do hope you will consider signing up to this very worthwhile project. All you have to do is install the app and leave it running when you put your phone/tablet on to charge (it will start automatically when the device is up to 80%). Here’s a link to the download page in Google Play and here is a link to the version for iOS in the Apple store..

As ever, if you have any comments or questions about DreamLab, please do leave them below.

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