#ShareTheHealth: health research using spare Android phone processing, used fitness trackers

click to enlargeCitizen Science on the Move. Two new campaigns harness the power of everyday people to boost research and personal health.

The World Community Grid is coordinated by IBM and taps into the spare processing power of potentially millions of Android smartphones and tablets. Users download an app called BOINC through the IBM site and select a research area in health or sustainability. Researchers then can use the processing power of the device at idle times to fuel processing of massive records or simulations required for research. The app operates in the background when your device is connected to Wi-Fi and at 90 percent+ charge, so it doesn’t use data or drain significant power. It has been or is currently being used for up to two million daily calculations in research initiatives for Ebola, Zika, TB and HIV/AIDS. Highlighted in the BBC News article is the new Smash Childhood Cancer project to help find cures for six types of childhood cancer, including brain tumors, liver and bone cancer. Previously, 200,000 World Community Grid volunteers contributed device power to research on neuroblastoma, which helped identify several potential treatments. The BOINC project started in 2004 and originally used spare mainframe and PC processing. It remains free to researchers in exchange for allowing other researchers to access the data. More information on the IBM World Community Grid with app download links here to put your Android device on the grid. It beats a cat video app! Hat tip to reader Guy Dewsbury via LinkedIn.

RecycleHealth and #ShareTheHealth is a crowdfunded research/wellness project that aims to put used fitness trackers back to work for those who wouldn’t normally buy them at retail: older adults with chronic disease, veterans’ organizations working to reduce PTSD, inner city running clubs, and more. Developed by Tufts University School of Medicine assistant professor Lisa Gualtieri, Ph.D., RecycleHealth has cleaned and refurbished over 1,000 donated fitness trackers which have been used in three research studies on how wearables affect behavior change and clinical outcomes. The three and future rounds of crowdfunding help with postage (donor and new user) and refurbishment. So far the research has covered hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. Future studies are planned for how wearable activity tracker data can be used in clinical visits for actionable physician counseling and wearables’ therapeutic role in assisting veterans recovering from mental health and other concerns. Dr. Gualtieri’s Tufts crowdfunding site is here, but this Editor discovered her through LinkedIn. (And hope that she will not mind our borrowing her hashtag!)

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