Mobile phones lie dormant when users are asleep, which means that millions of powerful processors are going unused for hours at a time.
The University of Vienna's Faculty of Life Sciences and Samsung Austria are teaming up to tap the potential of all that unused processing power.
They developed the 'Power Sleep' app which provides users with a simple alarm clock function.
When the alarm is set and the user's phone is plugged in, fully charged and connected to a Wi-Fi network, the app begins to process data sent from the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database.
The research is focused on deciphering protein sequences in order to help with medical advancements in disciplines such as genetics and heredity, biochemistry, molecular biology and cancer research, 'Gizmag' reported.
"In order to fight diseases like cancer and Alzheimers, we need to know how proteins are arranged," said Thomas Rattei, professor of bioinformatics at the University of Vienna.
"This requires trials that need a tremendous amount of processing power. Power Sleep is a bridge between science and society. It promotes not only our research, but allows people in Austria to become part of the project and, at the same time, to do good in their sleep," Rattei said.
Power Sleep is connected to the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), a network that links around 60,000 PCs worldwide and harnesses their processing power for computational-based research.