Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Smart Phone as your Mainframe?

The emergence of the Mobile Computing Cloud (McCloud) may lead to surprising innovations; here is one effort to give superpowers to your smart phone. Researchers at Intel in Berkeley create a supercharged clone of your smart phone that lives in "the cloud" and lets it do all the computational heavy lifting that your phone is too weak to handle.

CloneCloud uses a smart phone's high-speed connection to the Internet to communicate with a copy of itself that lives in a cloud-computing environment on remote servers. The prototype runs on Google's Android mobile operating system and seamlessly offloads processor-intensive tasks to its cloud-based double.

Of course, one could imagine an alternate implementation including smart phone and cloud based VM hypervisors that shift the workload automatically, no double required.

“But CloneCloud wouldn't just make smart phones more efficient: it could also make them more capable. A test application developed by Chun performs face recognition on photos. It required 100 seconds of processor time on a standard Android phone, but it finished in only one second when run by a clone of the phone running on a desktop computer. Because the software runs on a cloud-computing platform, it can be scaled in terms of the amount of both memory allocated and processing power, both of which increase performance on computationally intensive tasks.”

This work, developed by Byung-Gon Chun, a research scientist at Intel Research Berkeley, and his colleague Petros Maniatis, was recently reported by Christopher Mims in Technology Review and will be presented HotOS XII conference in Switzerland later this month.

1 comment:

  1. I would NOT have thought about this application of cloud computing. But once you say it, I realize "Of course they could do that!"

    This will obviously have implications for all kinds of applications, but one that again comes to my mind is the tools for the blind.

    For instance, my wife, uses a phone running a "screen reader" application that is essentially a bare-bones version of what runs on her laptop. That's great for basic applications (calendar, address book, SMS, etc.) but it can't do anywhere near what the software running on her laptop can do.

    With a mobile cloud, my wife could run top-of-the-line assistive tech software remotely and get the benefits delivered to her hands. And if this could be applied to a product like the Kurzweil phone+camera+OCR package (http://gizmodo.com/349558/kurzweil-develops-first-seeing+eye-cellphone)... WOW.