I recently stumbled upon a mobile app that will utilize the compute power of your mobile phone, while you are sleeping to decrypt protein sequences for cancer research. Even though utilizing an idle computer CPU for research isn’t something new, it caught my attention for the fact that it has now evolved to a mobile device.

We often overlook the compute power and technical maturity of mobile phones in today’s world. Now that the new technical wave known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more of a reality we must always keep in mind the possibilities of utilizing that technical power for the greater good.

The IoT brings compute power to devices we never imagined would ever have technical guts; such as a street light. With just a single street lamp we can benefit with things like improved awareness; utilizing cameras or sensors to detect data within proximity. Safety is increased as lighting can be automatically increased when people are detected or decreased during periods of inactivity. We can also realize energy efficiency as street lights become smarter.

So how does a street light and the IoT cure cancer? It doesn’t…

The IoT and a street lamp lack the human element, which is a key element in the Internet of Everything (IoE). The street light is programmed to provide safety and at the same time stay energy efficient. Now imagine that we add the human element and sacrifice a day of energy efficiency a week to an army of smart street lights. Each light would be capable of comparing several sets of cancer protein data while normally sitting idle.

I’ve only used street lamps as an example but as all of our household devices become smarter, we can just as easily designate all of the idle processing power in our homes for cancer research while we sleep. We will soon see a day where we no longer donate money to cancer research but instead donate idle CPU cycles. Well until then, I will download this mobile app and get a good night’s sleep while my phone helps to cure cancer.


Rob Steele

Principal Systems Engineer

Roundtower Technologies