HTC Wants To Harness Your Smartphone’s Idle Power To Make The World A Better Place

HTC is wacky – in a good way. The smartphone company is one of the few that still does things that surprise me, and today’s MWC announcements are no exception. Sure, the Taiwanese company introduced a new mid-range handset that’s par for the course, but it also unveiled a new app and service that puts your smartphone to work when it’s not in use, for the good of all humanity.

HTC’s new “Power To Give” program takes your One or Butterfly series smartphone (with more Android devices to get support later) and harnesses its processing power to help cure diseases, map proteins and generally tackle tough problems that only high-powered computers can handle. To get started with Power To Give, all you need to do is download a free app from Google Play, pick a project you want to contribute to, then plug in your phone to charge and connect it to Wi-Fi.

One million One smartphones add up to a single one-petaflop supercomputer (the first of which actually just became obsolete and was decommissioned last year), which means your smartphone alone won’t be singlehandedly curing any diseases. Still, every little bit counts.

You may recognize this approach to crowdsourced computing: Sony used PlayStation power to run the Folding@home project, which worked on synthesizing key proteins, and SETI@home harnessed distributed computing networks to help try to find alien life. I only hope that if my HTC One ends up being the tipping point in terms of finding ET, someone somewhere gives me credit.