Sony has a long standing partnership with the Folding@Home research project and has just released a Beta version of Folding@Home for smartphones, following successful trials back in 2012.

For those who haven’t come across Folding@Home before, it’s essentially a scientific simulation program that makes use of the combined processing capabilities of computers, and now smartphones, from all over the world to cost effectively crowd-source research data that would otherwise only be obtainable through the use of hugely expensive supercomputers. Each peer chips in a small amount of processing power, but it adds up when you combine the entire user base together.

The Folding@Home project is designed and used for disease research. By simulating protein folding and drug design, researches can obtain a better look at difficult to observe molecules, which could help find cures for cancer, Alzeimer’s and Huntington’s disease, among others.

The increase in computing capacity is having a real effect on what we can achieve … The potential of smartphones in this space is enormous and we’re really pleased that Sony has been able to support us with this. – Dr Vijay Pande

Computing-Power-IllustrationDr Vijay Pande, a doctor in biology and structural chemistry at Stanford, suggests that research contributing towards a ground-breaking paper might need somewhere around 150,000 phone days spent using the app. That’s an incredibly long time, but if 10,000 phones were all running at once you would have the solution within just two weeks. 100,000 smartphones all running the app at once could produce around 2 PFLOPS of processing power, smashing through the previous 2007 world record which was accomplished with a selection of Sony PS3 gaming consoles.

The beta version of the Folding@Home app is compatible with all smartphones in the Xperia Z series, as well as the Xperia T3, T2 Ultra, M2 Aqua and C3, and can is available for download from Google Play. Once the beta stage comes to a close, the app will be available for all Android 4.4 smartphones sometime early this year.

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