- Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London scientists deploy DreamLab app to speed up coronavirus research
- DreamLab uses the processing power of smartphones to help analyse complex data while their owners sleep
- Data will help Imperial College London scientists identify existing drugs and food-based molecules with anti-viral properties, ultimately enabling tailored treatments for patients with coronavirus
Smartphone users are being encouraged to harness the collective processing power of their mobile phones to help speed up research into treatments for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) using the free DreamLab app, as part of a partnership between Vodafone Foundation and scientists at Imperial College London. The app is using the common processing power of smartphones to compute complex data much faster than traditionally.
“We are pleased to offer our DreamLab technology to assist researchers at Imperial College in their work to fight coronavirus,” said Joakim Reiter, Vodafone Foundation Trustee and External Affairs Director, Vodafone Group. “Vodafone Foundation’s award winning DreamLab app has already supported discoveries through cancer research thanks to our customers’ participation, and we want to do our part now as society battles against COVID-19.”
DreamLab is a specialist app, developed by Vodafone Foundation Australia as an easy way for anyone to support cancer research while their phone is on charge overnight. Today, a new Corona-AI project has launched on the app, which will use the same technology to help in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
“As I was saying back in September 2019, when Vodafone Romania Foundation first launched DreamLab locally to help fight cancer, this app gives us all the opportunity to use technology for good deeds. Now, as we are living unprecedented times with the Coronavirus pandemic raising alarms and creating uncertainty, we have to see the broader picture: the entire world is facing challenges, but we can overcome this situation if we unite forces. The DreamLab app is a great way to do this. It doesn’t require any effort or exposure to health risks: from the comfort of your home, you can download it freely and turn it on before going to sleep. During this time, everybody is contributing something to the Coronavirus research, thus helping tens of thousands of people who are suffering from this viral disease. We can and should use technology to save lives,” said Murielle Lorilloux, CEO Vodafone Romania.
Researchers believe that this work could speed up access to effective drugs and enable tailored treatments against this infectious disease.
Dr Kirill Veselkov from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who is leading the research, said: “We urgently need new treatments to tackle Covid-19. There are existing drugs out there that might work to treat it, but we need to do complex analyses using artificial intelligence to find out which molecule or combinations of molecules might be able to disrupt the virus when it’s inside the body. All of this takes a huge amount of computing power and DreamLab enables us to do this important work in a much shorter timeframe.”
The project is split into two phases:
- To identify uses of the existing drugs and food-based molecules with anti-viral properties
- To optimise combinations of these drugs and food molecules with antiviral properties for improved efficiency against coronavirus infections
While traditional experimental research and standard research methods could take years to develop, the mobile cloud-based processing approach of DreamLab can drastically reduce the time taken to analyse the huge amount of data that exists. A desktop computer running 24-hours a day would take decades to process the data, but a network of 100,000 smartphones running overnight could do the job in just a couple of months.
The app is available to download now in Romania, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the UK, with other countries to follow in the coming weeks.* DreamLab is free to download in the App store for iOS or Play Store for Android. In order for the app to work in Romanian, users must have their phones set in this language previous to the download. One installed, the app will eat into monthly data allowances. Vodafone Romania is supporting the DreamLab project by offering free national data for all the Vodafone customers. No personal data is downloaded to or processed from the user’s device. For more information, you can visit www.fundatia-vodafone.ro/dreamlab/.
*DreamLab will be launching from 27th April in Portugal, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Germany; and launching in Ireland, Greece, Turkey and Albania from 1st June.