In A Nutshell
The World Community Grid uses computing power from idle home computers to help search for new drugs to combat HIV and AIDS. An Android app allows users to donate their phone’s unused power to this cause, at no cost or effort to the user.
The Whole Bushel
Drug research is extremely costly, and much of the expense involves renting time on a supercomputer. Most people, you see, don’t have one of those lying around, and it takes an immense amount of energy to power one—unless they’re built from energy-efficient gaming consoles, but we digress.
The World Community Grid is a project that allows scientists to drastically cut down on the expense and time involved in doing this type of research. The hardware and software was donated by IBM, but the raw computing power necessary is largely donated by ordinary home computer users. They can register with the Grid and then download and install a small program. When the machine is idle, it will request a tiny, manageable task from the main server to compute, then send back the results and request another. Seems like a small thing, and it is, requiring practically no power—but when lots of people sign up, all of those little computations add up pretty quickly.
Now, an Android application allows users of those phones to install an app that will let their phones do the same thing. It only kicks in when the phone is plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi, to avoid draining the battery or charging the user extra for data.
And just like that, your phone—or laptop, should you care to register that as well—can quietly go to work for the Scripps Research Institute, performing the little calculations that add up to the mountain of research that may one day discover the next groundbreaking HIV medicine. May we suggest you click the below links to learn more?