Vodafone Ireland is encouraging smartphone users in Ireland to use their devices to help speed up research into treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19), by downloading the free DreamLab app. The initiative is being run as part of a partnership between the Vodafone Foundation and scientists at Imperial College London.
DreamLab is an award-winning specialist app, originally developed by Vodafone Foundation Australia, which was created as an easy way to enable smartphone owners to support cancer research while their device is on charge overnight.
Today, a new Corona Artificial Intelligence (AI) project has launched on the app, which will use the same technology to help in the global efforts of finding better treatments for the virus. The free app is now available to download in Ireland.
The project combines AI and the processing power of idle smartphones- typically when they are not in use overnight- to speed up the discovery of novel anti-viral components in existing medicines and help in the hunt for anti-viral molecules in foods.
The app works by creating a network of smartphones to power a virtual supercomputer, capable of processing billions of calculations, without collecting or disclosing users’ location data. Smartphone owners who engage, will simply be contributing the processing power of their smartphones while they are idle. The DreamLab app analyses data for research purposes only and no personal data is downloaded or processed from the user’s device preserving the privacy of the smartphone user.
While traditional experimental research and standard research methods can potentially take years to develop, the mobile cloud-based processing approach of DreamLab can drastically reduce the time taken to analyse the huge amount of information that exists. For example, a desktop computer running 24-hours a day would take decades to process this information, but a network of 100,000 smartphones running overnight could reduce this time to just a couple of months.
The Vodafone Foundation DreamLab app has already been used across the world to analyse research data, and Imperial College London is used as a central point for processing the data, maximising the efficiency in finding better treatment for the virus. The DreamLab app has already launched in 14 other markets globally.
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
In celebration of the launch of the DreamLab app in Ireland and as part of Vodafone’s weekly Fantastic Friday competition, ten lucky customers will be in with a chance to win an iPhone 11 or a Samsung S20. To be in with a chance of winning a new iPhone 11, customers need to log into the My Vodafone app and follow the instructions for Fantastic Friday.
Liam O’Brien, Director of Strategy and External Affairs at Vodafone said: “During the COVID19 crisis our ambition at Vodafone is to keep families, businesses, communities and the vulnerable connected but also to continue to innovate and look at ways in which technology can be used for good in our society.
As this outbreak continues to endanger human health at a global scale, efficient research into medical and nutritional interventions is crucial. DreamLab has already supported four world-first discoveries in Cancer research with the help of Vodafone customers and is now using its technology in the current global fight. The technology will be assisting researchers at Imperial College London in their work to fight coronavirus and we are encouraging smartphone users in Ireland to download this free app and play their part in aiding the research.‘’
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.”
DreamLab is free to download and use for Vodafone customers, meaning it does not eat into monthly data allowances. The app can also be used across other networks, with users choosing how much data they wish to donate, or by connecting via Wi-Fi.
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