Corona-AI Project Asks DreamLab App Users to Help Create ‘Virtual Supercomputer’ to Assist in COVID-19 Research Efforts

April 9, 2020

LONDON, April 9, 2020 — The Vodafone Foundation and scientists at Imperial College London are asking smartphone users across the UK to come together to support a project to speed up research into effective treatments for COVID-19. The Corona-AI project will be delivered through DreamLab, an award-winning app developed by the Vodafone Foundation and launched in 2017 to facilitate cancer research.

Image courtesy of Vodafone UK.

To get involved, all people need to do is download the DreamLab app and activate it every night while they sleep and charge their phones. This collective processing power creates a virtual supercomputer, capable of processing millions of calculations. Scientists from Imperial College London believe if 100,000 DreamLab users power the app for six hours every night for three months, they can complete vital research that would take Imperial’s supercomputers a year to process*.

The project uses Artificial Intelligence to trawl through data and identify existing drugs and food molecules that could benefit those with the infectious disease. The more people that plug in, the quicker possible treatments will be found. No personal data from the user’s device is affected or used in any way.

The Corona-AI project is split into two phases:

  1. Phase 1 will identify existing drugs and food-based molecules with anti-viral properties that may benefit those with COVID-19.
  2. Phase 2 will optimize combinations of these drugs and food molecules to provide potential drug treatments and nutritional advice for those with COVID-19.

Once the research is complete, it will be made available to the medical profession to facilitate clinical trials. In addition, any food-related findings will be translated into dietary advice that can be implemented by the medical community for patients recovering from COVID-19.

Dr Kirill Veselkov from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who is leading the research, 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 time frame.”

Helen Lamprell, Trustee and board member of the Vodafone UK Foundation and General Counsel and External Affairs Director at Vodafone UK, said: “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.”

To download the app, search for DreamLab in the App Store for iOS or Play Store for Android. Vodafone customers can activate DreamLab for free using either mobile data or Wi-Fi. Those on other networks will be asked how much data they would like to donate to power the app, or can connect via Wi-Fi.

*Timescale relates to Corona-AI phase 1 only.

About Vodafone Foundation

Vodafone Foundation is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Vodafone Foundation is an independent UK registered charity, number 1089625.

About Imperial College London

Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society. Imperial is the UK’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK’s most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry. http://www.imperial.ac.uk/

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT). Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text message, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. We now have 5G in more places than anyone else, with multiple locations now live across the UK and the rest of Europe.


Source: Vodafone UK

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