DreamLab

Your smartphone is a small but powerful computer. When it’s idle - like when you’re asleep at night - that power goes untapped. The DreamLab app for Android phones puts that power to use for good to fast track cancer research.

When it’s plugged in and fully charged, each phone is given a tiny part of a research problem, processes it and sends the result back to the research team at Garvan Institute of Medical Research. It’s like working on a crossword but everyone solving a different clue.

For more info about the app and how it works, check out the questions and answers below.

 

More info about how it works

A more technical version of how it works.

Garvan uploads a large research problem to the Amazon Web Services cloud server. Once a user has downloaded and set up the DreamLab app, their phone will download a tiny piece of the research problem (hundreds of KB). A novel algorithm built by Garvan researchers in the DreamLab app, allows the phone to solve the research problem, using the phone’s computing power. The algorithm enables the comparison of the functional similarities and differences in mutated genes from different cancer patients (de-identified), to enable creation of a library of cancers grouped by their genetic profile. The result is then sent back from the phone to the cloud server, for the Garvan team to analyse These patterns can help researchers identify subgroups of patients who share similar mutation profiles, who could therefore potentially respond to the same therapies (for example, a patient with pancreatic cancer who has a mutation pattern similar to a breast cancer patient, could respond better to a breast cancer drug). The combination of a large community (that’s you!), coupled with big data analytic algorithms, makes this revolutionary form of research possible.
 

How is DreamLab different to other grid computing systems and apps?

Since 2002, BOINC and other platforms have enabled people from around the world to donate the processing power of their desktop computers and gaming consoles to help solve research problems. The BOINC platform was extended to Android devices in 2013. DreamLab uses a world first and custom built solution (not using BOINC) that supports Garvan’s cancer research project.
 

Why isn’t DreamLab available for iPhone?

We are working to make DreamLab available on iPhone. We’ll keep you updated.

How it helps cancer researchers and cancer patients

How does DreamLab help fast track cancer research?

One thing slowing cancer research is the limited access researchers have to supercomputers to crunch their complex data. DreamLab gives cancer researchers at Garvan Institute of Medical Research free access to a dedicated virtual supercomputer to accelerate research into cancers including breast, pancreatic, ovarian and prostate. It also frees up Garvan’s other computing resources for other research activity.
 

Who is Garvan Institute of Medical Research?

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research is a driving force behind the transformation of medicine in Australia. For over 50 years, significant medical breakthroughs have been achieved by Garvan scientists in the understanding and treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, mental illness, osteoporosis, asthma, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Garvan's ultimate goal is prevention, treatment or cure of these and other major diseases. You can find out more at www.garvan.org.au/dreamlab.
 

How will DreamLab help people affected by cancer?

Currently cancer is thought of by its tissue of origin – lung, breast or pancreatic cancer. But cancer is a disease of the DNA, and so with the advances in genome sequencing, world-leading researchers at Garvan are interested in grouping cancers based on genetic mutations. It’s hoped in the future that this study will give doctors the information they need to personalise a patient’s cancer treatment. Because, due to their genetic profile, a person with pancreatic cancer may in fact respond better to a drug traditionally used to treat breast cancer – and if you have an aggressive cancer, then getting the right treatment first time is vital). The researchers at Garvan told us that one thing slowing their research progress is the limited access they have to supercomputers to crunch this complex data. That’s where Vodafone’s DreamLab comes in. DreamLab enables everyone to donate the processing power of their idle Smartphones to speed up cancer research. Each phone downloads part of a research problem, processes it and sends the result back to the team at Garvan. It’s hoped that in future, the information generated by DreamLab will enable doctors to personalise a patient’s cancer treatment, based on their genetic profile.
 

What research project can I support?

You can choose to support research into breast, pancreatic, ovarian or prostate cancer. To find out more visit garvan.org.au
 

Can I change which research project I’m supporting?

At the moment, the app is designed so that you choose once which project/s you’d like to support when you set the app up. We haven’t included the ability for you to change your mind later to support different projects. We may consider changing this functionality in the future.
 

How does DreamLab work faster than Garvan’s computers?

Based on our tests, 33 new android devices will analyse the same amount data about as fast as a CPU core of the Garvan’s supercomputer. Garvan’s supercomputer consists of 1,280 CPU cores in total.  
 

What is the goal of DreamLab?

Initially, DreamLab will finish analyzing the genetic mutations for breast, pancreatic, ovarian and prostate cancer within 12 months. Following this, we will extend the app to support additional cancer types, genomics analysis or other complex diseases.
 

How else can I support Garvan’s research?

To find out how else you can support Garvan’s research, visit garvan.org.au
 

Whose cancer / genetic information does DreamLab analyse?

DreamLab analyses somatic mutations from cancer patients that has been de-identified for research purposes. Garvan has sourced this data from the published studies of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).
 

How many research problems will my phone solve each night?

It depends on how powerful your phone is, and how many hours it’s plugged in and charging. As a guide, a new Android device will solve approximately 1,800 tiny research problems if plugged in and fully charged for six hours. Over a month, it would use just over 500MB of data.
 

Can other research organisations get involved in using DreamLab?

Not at this stage. Vodafone Foundation has committed to supporting Garvan for three years. In the future we may look to expand DreamLab to support other research projects at Garvan, or to support other research organisations – to help solve other important health related research problems.

How to start and stop using DreamLab

How do I start using DreamLab?

Download DreamLab from Google Play and complete the walkthrough. The app will work when your phone is plugged in and charging. It will automatically start when your phone reaches 95% charged, or you can press play or pause at any time.
 

How do I stop using DreamLab?

DreamLab will stop solving research problems when you unplug your phone from charge. You can also choose to pause or play the processing at any time. To stop using DreamLab permanently, just uninstall the app.
 

I don’t live in Australia can I still use DreamLab?

Yes the DreamLab app can be downloaded from Google Play from anywhere in the world. For international users, you’ll be charged as per your mobile or WiFi plan for the data you contribute.

Data usage questions

Will DreamLab use data from my mobile plan, or WiFi?

DreamLab will solve research problems when your phone is plugged in and charging. If your phone detects that WiFi is available, then DreamLab will work over WiFi. The default data contribution limit for WiFi is 250MB a month, but you can increase this, including to ‘unlimited’ in the app Settings. If WiFi is not available, then DreamLab will work over your mobile network, using data up to the monthly data contribution limit you have chosen (50MB, 250MB or 500MB a month). Just be mindful, DreamLab works on a calendar month, which might not be in sync with your billing cycle. You can see when your DreamLab monthly cycle will restart in the app Settings.

For Vodafone Australia customers, it’s free on the Vodafone network in Australia (but if you’re also contributing over WiFi, you’ll be charged as per your WiFi plan). Roaming incurs roaming rates, however we’ve auto disabled DreamLab from using mobile data when you’re overseas.

For everyone else, you’ll be charged as per your mobile or WiFi plan for the data you contribute.

DreamLab will pause when you reach the monthly data limit that you’ve chosen. At this point, you’ll be given the choice to increase your data contribution, turn on WiFi, or do nothing and DreamLab will resume again the next calendar month.
 

How much data will DreamLab use?

It’s up to you. On your mobile network, you can choose to give up to 50MB, 250MB or 500MB a month. For WiFi, you can choose to give up to 250MB, 1GB or ‘unlimited’ a month. You can change how much data you contribute at any time in the DreamLab app Settings. As a guide, 50MB is about the same as uploading 25 photos to social media a month. 500MB is approximately equivalent to streaming a video for 1.5 hours a month. 1GB is similar to streaming a video for 3 hours a month.

You can see how much data DreamLab has used in the app settings, and when your DreamLab month will restart.
 

How much will it cost me to use DreamLab?

For Vodafone Australia customers, it’s free to use DreamLab on the Vodafone network in Australia (but if you’re also contributing over WiFi, you’ll be charged as per your WiFi plan).  Roaming incurs roaming rates, however we’ve auto disabled DreamLab from using mobile data when you’re overseas.

For everyone else, you’ll be charged for the data you contribute each month as per the plan you have with your mobile phone or WiFi provider. Just be mindful, DreamLab works on a calendar month, which might not be in sync with your billing cycle. You can see when your DreamLab month will restart in the app Settings.
 

Why does DreamLab need data to work?

Whilst you’re donating the processing power of your Smartphone, DreamLab does need some data to work. However you’re in total control and can choose how much you contribute each month on your mobile network, or on WiFi.  You can change your monthly data contribution limit in the app Settings at any time.
 

How do I only use DreamLab over WiFi?

Go to the DreamLab app Settings, and turn mobile data off.
 

How do I only use DreamLab over my mobile network?

Go to the DreamLab app Settings and turn WiFi off.
 

What happens when DreamLab has reached the monthly data contribution limit I’ve set?

When you reach the data limit you’ve set, DreamLab will give you three options. You can increase your data limit, turn WiFi on, or do nothing, and DreamLab will automatically start again the next month.
 

My mobile phone provider has alerted me that I’m running low on data for my billing cycle. What should I do with DreamLab?

If you’re running low on data, it’s best that you turn off the mobile data contribution from DreamLab. You can always continue to give over WiFi.
 

I’m with Vodafone. How do I know I’m not being charged for the mobile data DreamLab uses?

For Vodafone Australia customers, it’s free to use DreamLab on the Vodafone network in Australia. It won’t even appear on your bill. The data used to solve research problems is sent to a dedicated server that is tagged with a unique rating group by Vodafone to ensure that customers are not charged for this data usage. It won’t count towards your monthly data allowance.

If you’ve chosen to also give over WiFi, then you’ll be charged for this data as per the plan you have with your WiFi provider.
 Roaming incurs roaming rates, however we’ve auto disabled DreamLab from using mobile data when you’re overseas.

 

How does the time I’ve contributed reflect how much data I give?

The dashboard will show how much time you’ve cumulatively given to DreamLab, but the app will only use the amount of data that you’ve chosen to contribute, and will only process research problems when charging. As a guide, if you’ve chosen to contribute 500MB a month, and you’re using a new Android device, your dashboard will show a time contribution around 186 hours a month (if your phone is plugged in and fully charged for six hours each night).
 

I’m travelling overseas. What should I do with DreamLab?

In the app Settings DreamLab is set to default OFF when roaming, which means if you are roaming, DreamLab won’t solve research problems using your mobile data. However if you have WiFi set to ON in the app Settings, DreamLab will continue to work on WiFi when overseas. If you’d like to not use DreamLab at all whilst overseas, you can turn WiFi OFF in the app Settings.

 

I don’t live in Australia can I still use DreamLab?

Yes the DreamLab app can be downloaded from Google Play from anywhere in the world. For international users, you’ll be charged as per your mobile or WiFi plan for the data you contribute.
 

Is the data I donate through DreamLab tax deductible?

No. According to the Australian Tax Office, donations are only deductible where payment of money, or in certain circumstances transfer of property, is made to a registered Deductible Gift Recipient. For more information, visit www.ato.gov.au

Reporting issues and getting help

DreamLab isn’t working, how do I get help?

First have a read of these FAQs. If you still need help, please visit the DreamLab app Settings to Send Feedback. Your feedback will be incorporated into updates and future releases of DreamLab.
 

How do I report a bug or issue?

Please visit the DreamLab app Settings to Send Feedback. Your feedback will be incorporated into updates and future releases of DreamLab.

Device related questions

Will it work on my device?

DreamLab will work on Android devices with “Ice cream sandwich” v4.0 and later. DreamLab is not compatible with other Smartphone operating systems, such as Apple iOS, Windows, Symbian OS, Blackberry and other.
 

Will it access private information on my phone?

No, DreamLab does not need access to any of your private information. DreamLab uses the processing power of your smart phone to solve research problems and allows you to remain anonymous while doing so. The app will access your smartphone’s processor and use a small amount of storage. The app requests access to photos, media, files permission in order to store Garvan’s tiny research problems whilst they are being processed and solved by your phone. DreamLab will only access the files it has created in the files directories. The app will never access any personal information on your phone. For more information on privacy, please visit vodafone.com.au/dreamlab
 

Will it drain my battery?

No. DreamLab will only work when your phone is plugged in and charging. DreamLab will automatically start solving research problems you’re your battery is over 95% charged, or you can choose to play or pause at any time.

 

Why does DreamLab automatically start at 95% charged??

We know that battery life is of pretty important to most people, so we designed DreamLab to automatically start solving problems when your phone is plugged in and charged (battery life over 95%). However we’ve also given you the choice to play or pause at any time.

Will it slow my phone or interfere with me using my phone as normal?

No. Even while DreamLab is solving a research problem, you can use your phone as normal - surf the web, take a call, or send a text message all whilst helping to speed up cancer research.
 

How much memory will it use?

Memory usage will vary significantly depending on what device you are using and what you are doing while DreamLab is running. Your operating system will prioritise memory based on your usage. Just remember, you will be able to use your device like normal.
 

Will it cause my phone to overheat?

No. The app has been designed to only draw a small amount of power from your phone.
 

Can I use DreamLab on a tablet?

Yes if you have the operating system requirements. However, the app is currently designed for use on phones, and won’t display optimally on a tablet. 
 

Can I use DreamLab on my computer?

No, currently DreamLab is only supported on Android devices.
 

Will my personal information be used for medical research?

No. DreamLab analyses somatic mutations from cancer patients that has been de-identified for research purposes. Garvan has sourced this data from the published studies of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Any contact details you may choose to provide will only be used to send you a quarterly update on Garvan’s research progress.
 

What happens if I change phones?

You will need to re-install DreamLab to continue using it. Your time contribution displayed on the dashboard will start again at zero.
 

What happens if I change mobile phone providers?

If you have kept your existing handset, then you can continue using DreamLab. If you have a new handset, you’ll need to re-install DreamLab again. Your time contribution displayed on the dashboard will start again at zero.
 

Will DreamLab impact the Vodafone network?

No. Vodafone’s network has been built for streaming, roaming, and now - speeding up cancer research.

Communications preferences

Do I have to provide my contact details?

No, it’s optional. If you’d like to keep up to date with the research that you’re supporting, you can provide your details to receive a quarterly update. You’ll never receive Vodafone marketing, and you can unsubscribe, or change your contact details anytime in the DreamLab app Settings.
 

How do I opt out of receiving DreamLab updates?

Go to the DreamLab app Settings and turn Research Updates off.
 

Who’s behind DreamLab?

The DreamLab Smartphone app is powered by Vodafone, with Vodafone Foundation supporting Garvan’s world-class research with three years of grant funding. DreamLab’s server is powered by Amazon Web Services. The clever team at b2cloud built the DreamLab app.
 

Why is Vodafone involved?

Vodafone Foundation Australia supports charities to harness the power of mobile technology to create a healthier Australia. DreamLab is the flagship program of the Foundation. Find out more at vodafonefoundation.com.au.

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