Our mobile phones generally lie dormant while we're asleep, which means that millions of powerful processors are going unused for hours at a time. Samsung Austria and the University of Vienna's Faculty of Life Sciences have teamed up to try and tap the potential of all that unused processing power. Power Sleep is a new Android app that allows mobile phone users to donate the processing power of their devices to scientific research while they are asleep.

The Power Sleep app provides users with a simple alarm clock function. When the alarm is set and the user's phone is plugged in, fully charged and connected to a Wi-Fi network, the app begins to process data sent from the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database. The research is focused on deciphering protein sequences in order to help with medical advancements in disciplines such as genetics and heredity, biochemistry, molecular biology and cancer research.

"In order to fight diseases like cancer and Alzheimers, we need to know how proteins are arranged," says Thomas Rattei, professor of bioinformatics at the University of Vienna. "This requires trials that need a tremendous amount of processing power. Power Sleep is a bridge between science and society. It promotes not only our research, but allows people in Austria to become part of the project and, at the same time, to do good in their sleep."

Power Sleep is connected to the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), a network that links around 60,000 PCs worldwide and harnesses their processing power for computational-based research. The app extends the reach of BOINC to include mobile devices, which Martin Wallner, senior director of IT & Mobile at Samsung Electronics Austria, points out are not necessarily much less powerful than computers nowadays.

I found the app itself simple and straightforward to use. Users can set the alarm easily from the main screen, although the functionality to set multiple alarms is not available. A selection of alarm sounds is included as well as the option to set snooze duration, repeat the alarm daily and to allow the app to operate over 3G. Users can also swipe through an information section about the project and another section details the number of hours that users have contributed to the project, which is a nice touch.

Power Sleep is free to download and available now from the Play Store.

The video below provides more information about the project and the app.

Source: Power Sleep