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App that taps into collective power of world’s smartphones directed to Covid-19 research

Written by Wed 8 Apr 2020

The Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London’s DreamLab app is being used to boost Covid-19 research

Scientists looking into treatments for coronavirus are hoping to use the collective power of a network of smartphones to help boost research.

The DreamLab app, developed by the Vodafone Foundation, uses the collective power of a network of phones to analyse huge amounts of information in a much shorter space of time.

The technology will be used by researchers from Imperial College London hoping to identify how existing drugs and food-based molecules could help patients with or recovering from Covid-19.

The app, which was launched in 2017, has previously used as part of cancer research.

Those wishing to join the research simply have to download the app and activate it every night before they go to sleep and while they charge their phone.

The collective power of those taking part then creates a virtual supercomputer, capable of processing millions of calculations.

The project uses artificial intelligence to trawl through data and look for potential treatments.

Once the research is complete, it will be made available to medical professionals, Vodafone said.

‘Repurposing existing drugs’

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, and the great thing about repurposing existing drugs is that we already know they are safe and therefore could get them to patients quickly.

“However, we have to do difficult and complicated analyses using artificial intelligence and all of this takes a huge amount of computing power.

“DreamLab creates a supercomputer that enables us to do this important work in a relatively short timeframe.”

The app can be downloaded for free on both Apple’s iOS and Android.

Helen Lamprell, trustee and board member of the Vodafone UK Foundation and general counsel and external affairs director at Vodafone UK said: “We’re working hard to keep the UK connected during this challenging time.

“We ask everyone to come together and harness the collective power of their smartphones by connecting to DreamLab.

“If everyone in the UK connects, we have the potential to really make a difference in the fight against Covid-19.”

Written by Wed 8 Apr 2020

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