Thursday, November 21, 2013

Morpheus

The following is an excerpt from my blog post in the Dwolla Blog where I recounted my experience at the largest hackathon in Texas, HackTX.
A screenshot from Morpheus.
A screenshot from Morpheus.
Morpheus, whose name bears no relation to the well known leader in the human fight against dystopian robot overlords from The Matrix, but instead is named after the Greek god of dreams and sleep, is a platform that brings distributed computing to mobile devices.  Mobile devices, such as Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, are exponentially increasing in processing power.  If we consider the fact that in my pocket lies an HTC One which contains a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, (which truly is mind-blowing, because the last time I shopped for computer components, a few years ago, Intel was just rolling out their first Quad Core processors and the world was going nuts over it) and we also consider that 80% of the time, my phone is resting idly in my pocket or missing underneath my bed, we realize that the true potential of its is being wasted 90% of the time.  The other 10% is wasted because I use my phone to check my Facebook news feed and text my buddies.  Now, imagine if your phone could instead be used to work in a cluster of other computing devices to tackle large computational problems, like those being solved by [email protected], a project that takes advantage of the powerful Playstation 3's gamers have sitting in their homes to simulate protein folding, design medical drugs, and understand molecular dynamics to save human lives.  The true power of Morpheus is realized when you consider that smartphones and tablets are growing in their ubiquity.  Think about the impact that billions of super-quick devices could have if they were used for a purpose greater than taking selfies and tweeting about what you're about to buy from the supermarket.

"But do you really think people will drain their battery just because of the philanthropic goodness of their hearts?"  you may be inclined to ask.  Morpheus answers this in two ways: a) participants only leave their phone to compute when charging at night, and b) researchers will pay participants, using Dwolla, for the work their phone does.  This brings an interesting twist to the Folding @ Home model, which relies on gamers to rack up their energy bill and subject their PS3 to computational slavery for nothing except the knowledge that they're doing good in this world.  With Morpheus, researchers and even commercial enterprises can leverage the immense power hidden away in everyone's pockets to solve their problems.  Imagine IBM renting your phone for the night so it can compute the Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything in just a fraction of the 7.5 million years it took Deep Thought to do so.
The Morpheus team!
The Morpheus team! 
So, in essence, you get paid while you sleep just for running a simple app on your phone during the night. This simple idea is mind-bogglingly cool and has a ton of potential to do good for the world. I'm hopeful that the Morpheus team, uTexas students Eduardo Saenz, Bulat Bazarbayev, Comyar Zaheri Brandon Lee, and Sudheesh Katkam, will take this beyond HackTX and launch this in the wild, real world. Very well done, gentlemen.

0 comments:

Post a Comment