Vodafone has teamed up with scientists at Imperial College London to help gather research on Coronavirus, with the aid of smartphone users across the UK.
The Corona-AI project is a two-pronged plan that uses artificial intelligence to research potential treatments for COVID-19.
The first step is to find molecules based in food and drugs that have antiviral properties that could be used to combat the effects of Covid-19.
The second step is to optimise these drugs and food molecules, and even combine them where possible, to create treatments and nutritional advice that could aid people who have been infected with the virus.
When the research is finished, it will be shared with medical professionals with the aim to push drugs through to clinical trials. And any results from the food analysis will be released as dietary advice for COVID-19 sufferers.
But gathering and analysing the data takes a lot of computing power, and that’s where you come in. The Vodafone DreamLab app was first launched in 2017 to help with cancer research, and now it’s being used for COVID-19.
By downloading the DreamLab app and leaving it running while your phone charges overnight, your smartphone joins the network of DreamLab app users to help make millions of calculations, essentially creating a virtual supercomputer. And the more DreamLab users there are, the more power there will be and the quicker the research can be conducted.
You don’t have to be a Vodafone customer to help. The DreamLab is available for free download to all smartphone users in both the iOS App store for iPhone users and the Google Play store for Android users.
As long as your smartphone is connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, DreamLab will not use any of your data allowance when you leave it on overnight. It only helps the research too. It won't collect any personal data, so it's completely free to help with no knock-on effects.
Leading the project is Dr Kirill Veselkov Imperial College London, who 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.”
Meanwhile, Helen Lamprell of Vodafone UK talked about the impact individual smartphone users can make by downloading the app: “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.”