If you think this isn't much of a help, consider that scientific institutions are largely underfunded and every little bit helps. The five apps in the slideshow below use your Android device's hardware to contribute to research in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and others. Your device crunches numbers for humanity while you go spend your leisure time away from the distractions of your device. Sounds great, no?
Before you plunge into the slideshow, do mind that these apps can add wear and tear to your device's internals, as your processor and battery will be in use during times that used to be reserved for a break. Still, it's a negligible effect at worst, and the real-world impacts you'll potentially make will far outweigh the negatives!
5 Android apps that use your smartphone to help scientific projects
If you live somewhere along the Pacific Ring of Fire, MyShake will be just right for you. Published by researchers at UC Berkeley, it lets you track recent earthquake activity while simultaneously contributing valuable data to seismologists. The app uses the various sensors in your device to measure seismic activity. Combined with the rest of the users who have it installed, MyShake gives geologists an accurate and detailed map of earthquakes, which can lead to more advanced and timely warnings. You also get to see the data being collected, and overall, this is one of the most accurate earthquake-tracking apps available. Shake it off!
Folding@Home is a joint venture by Sony, your favorite Xperia device maker, and scientists from Stanford University who are trying to learn more about the mechanics behind many terrible diseases. It uses your device's idle processing power to aid research in protein folding, the process used by many cells in our bodies to form their final shapes. Most of the time, these shapes are biologically useful, but occasionally, improper folding can lead to diseases like Alzheimer's, Ebola, and cancer. With Folding@Home installed, your device's idle power will go towards analyzing protein folding patterns. This comes at virtually no cost to you, as the app will wait until your battery is fully charged and your device is connected to Wi-Fi before it starts doing its thing in the background.
DreamLab is the product of a partnership between Vodafone and researchers at the Garvan Institute in Australia, made to aid in curing several types of cancer. Once you've installed the app, you'll be able to choose the specific fields of cancer research you'd like to support. From there, the app will use your device's spare processing power to help find the antidote. For Vodafone customers, the mobile data used is free.
BOINC is another project by UC Berkeley, the makers of MyShake. Rather than using your device for one specific purpose, though, BOINC lets you choose the fields of research that you would like to contribute to. Your device's processor will be partnered with those of other participants around the world to form a supercomputer that analyzes important scientific data. Once you've chosen your preferred scientific fields, BOINC will wait until your phone or tablet is connected to a charger before it starts analyzing data, so there's no need to worry about battery drain.
5. Reverse the Odds
Rather than a number cruncher with a pretty interface, Reverse the Odds is a fun game made for scientific contribution. It offers credits when you analyze images that can help to identify different forms of cancer. It may sound complicated, but you don't need any clinical experience to use this app. It will teach you how to identify cancer cells with an easy-to-follow walkthrough, and when you're done learning, it will show you real slides to analyze and check for the presence of cancer cells. You will simultaneously contribute to science and earn credits that can be used in the game.