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Samsung’s Power Sleep app. Donate computing power while you sleep.

I think it’s safe to say that of all the “free giving” programs out there, Samsung’s Power Sleep app takes the prize. (And by “free giving” I mean programs that allow people to contribute to a good social cause while doing what they normally do anyway.) In case you haven’t heard about Power Sleep yet, the app was developed in collaboration with the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Vienna and donates your phone’s unused computing power to scientific research while you sleep. What kind of research, you might ask? How about research on cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer?

Researchers found that they didn’t have enough computing power to process the data they were working with. According to Dr Thomas Rattei, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Vienna, “in order to fight diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer, we need to know how proteins are created. This requires series of tests that need immense computing power and this is where Power Sleep bridges the gap between science and society.”

The phone app essentially turns your mobile phone into network computers that help the scientific researchers process the results of their studies. All you need to do is make sure your phone is plugged in, has access to wifi, and the app is on. It’s probably worth noting that some may find it prudent to check on the limits of their data plans to ensure a mega bill of data overages doesn’t make its way into the mail. That said, the data sent back and forth are no more than a megabyte in size each time for downloads and half of that for an upload. Each batch takes between 30-60 minutes. So depending on how long you sleep for, it would be around 12-24 megabytes of data for an average eight hours of sleep.

It may also be worth noting that “Power Sleep does not access personal data of any kind,” according to Dr. Thomas Rattei. “What comes back into the servers, as a result of the calculation process of the individual devices, are only numerical values relating to protein calculations. It is very important to us that the process is transparent, based on a true open-source collaborative platform.”

When it comes to incremental change and social impact, this is a perfect example of a program that is a sum of its parts. The more parts, the stronger the program and greater the impact. I don’t know about you, but I’ve downloaded the app. If you would like to as well, it’s available on Google Play.

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