Today, when someone mentions crowdsourcing we think of sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but only a few years ago the term was more closely associated with projects like SETI@home. Developed in part by David Anderson, a computer science professor at the University of California at Berkley, the system tasked idle, network-connected PCs with using some of their extra processing power to aid in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Other projects developed around the concept, each with their own particular end goal, but have since fallen out of vogue. Anderson, who was always more interested in the computing aspect of SETI@home rather than the actual search for intelligent life among the stars, sees a new opportunity with mobile devices, however.
He is now aiding in the development of a mobile version of his crowdsourced computing method dubbed BOINCDROID (the original was simply BOINC, or Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing). As the name implies, BOINCDROID is tailored for Google’s Android platform.
Anderson sees the increasing power of smartphones as well as their always-on nature as perfect for the next generation of crowdsourced computing. This time the extra processing power will be used to crunch numbers for Einstein@Home, a project searching for undiscovered black holes, pulsars, and gravitational anomalies among the universe.
But what about precious battery life? Data rates? Phones running BOINCDROID software will only be tasked with aiding Einstein@Home when charging and connected to a WiFi network. Don’t worry, Anderson is one step ahead.