Author: Alberto Vidal Rodríguez
DreamLab is an application that allows the user to collaborate remotely in different scientific research projects using their Smartphone.
Both on iOS and Android, the operation within the application is practically identical. In both operating systems there are 5 different functionalities, which can be accessed from the bottom of the screen. These functionalities are: The Lab, Projects, Contribution, News and Settings.
- The Lab: This section shows the project that is currently selected by the user, that is, the one with which they are collaborating. In this case it would be Corona-AI (Phase 3). In addition, pressing the "Start Session" button at the bottom will allow the mobile device to start calculating, as long as the mobile is charging and has an internet connection. This is the main functionality of this application.
- Projects: In this section a list will appear with the projects in which you can collaborate at that moment. To select the project you want to collaborate in, simply click on the "Select" button. Once selected, that project will appear in purple and will be shown as “Selected”. In addition, by clicking on each project you can access information about the project's mission and its statistics.
- Contribution: In the Contribution section, the user is shown a series of simple statistics regarding how they have contributed to research projects by using DreamLab. Among them the time during which calculations have been made and the total number of calculations that have been made in that time. This way the user can be aware of this contribution and feel more involved to continue collaborating with the different projects.
- News: From this section you can access current news and information related to the different projects in which DreamLab collaborates.
- Settings: In this section there are three different functionalities:
-Network settings: By clicking on "Data usage" you can configure the maximum data limit that you want DreamLab to use on a monthly basis, both via WiFi and mobile data. You can also activate or deactivate the use of DreamLab with Roaming, for which the application will ask for confirmation.
-About DreamLab: In this section you can obtain relevant information regarding the application, you can access a tutorial on how to use the app, you can share it via social networks or consult the most common questions from users in FAQs. In addition, you can rate the app and send comments or suggestions, as well as access the Terms and Conditions, the Privacy Statement and the Third Party Licenses.
-Communication: Finally, in the Communication section you can enable or disable the application notifying the user through reports and analysis. In addition, the app can be configured to display in Dark Mode (black background with white letters) or Light Mode (white background with black letters).
In iOS, at least until version 2.2.6, it is not possible to select Dark Mode or Light Mode from the application itself, so it will show us by default the Mode that is predetermined on the mobile phone.
In order to analyze and evaluate the application, a series of tests have been carried out to verify its operation. The tests have been carried out on a Samsung Galaxy J7 (Android 9.0) device with version 184.108.40.20641 and an iPhone SE (iOS 14.3) with version 2.2.6.
In order to use the application on both devices, it has been necessary to install it through the respective application stores of each operating system.
Once the application is installed, there is no need to register in any way.
First, the application will show the download number that we have assumed and a short tutorial on how to use the application. Afterwards, a screen will be displayed in which it will be necessary to establish the maximum limit of mobile data that DreamLab can consume monthly, when it is not connected to a WiFi network. This limit may be modified later within the app, to adjust it to the wishes of the user.
For DreamLab to start performing calculations, just go to the "The Lab" tab (lower left of the screen) and, while the Smartphone is charging and with an Internet connection, press the "Start Session" button. This is where a big difference in functionality appears between the Android and iOS operating systems.
- On devices with Android operating system, the Smartphone can continue to function normally while using DreamLab. The app will work in the background while the mobile is charging so it can be used normally. DreamLab will start automatically when your phone is plugged in with at least 80% charge. You can also choose to tap "Login" from within The Lab functionality at any time. To stop using DreamLab, simply disconnect your phone from charging or tap "Sign out" to stop it. To permanently stop using DreamLab, uninstall the application.
- On devices with an iOS operating system, it is NOT possible to use the application in the background. DreamLab will start working when you tap "Login" within the application without using your iPhone, without pressing the home button or locking it. If you press Start, open another app, or use your phone, DreamLab may pause or stop. Therefore, in these iOS devices, its use is especially recommended when the user is going to charge the mobile while they sleep. During the night, and while you sleep, the Smartphone will be charged and DreamLab will take advantage of the processor power that is not being used to aid this investigation.
These tests are intended to measure the possibilities of the application to be understood by the user.
The application is quite easy to use as it has a simple and intuitive interface. It has the 5 menus explained previously in the Operation section and each one of them in turn has very few elements, so the use is simple.
In general, the buttons are easy to recognize, which means that they can be used by profiles of different ages of users. Being simple to use, if the application is uninstalled at some point the simplicity of the interface makes it easy to remember how it works.
Regarding portability, DreamLab works on any type of Smartphone, both Android and iOS, although in old versions it may not be available.
In short, it can be concluded that the product generally has good usability.
In this section, different criteria have been applied to assess whether the application can be used regardless of the capabilities of the user.
-Cognitive accessibility: When the accessibility functions of the phone are active, a description of the application menu icons appears, which facilitates their understanding. The size of the buttons can be temporarily enlarged thanks to the zoom function available in the accessibility settings of the phone.
-Accessibility for people with reduced vision: The application does not present a settings section where the theme can be changed. It only allows, on Android devices, to activate or deactivate Dark Mode from the Settings tab. The size of the font cannot be changed, so depending on the screen size of the device being used, it is possible that the words may be difficult to read, especially the lower menu in which the words are displayed. 5 screens of the app. However, with the accessibility functions that different devices usually offer, the screen can be zoomed and / or the font size increased in general, which greatly facilitates use for people with reduced vision. To complete this section, some tests have been carried out with the screen reader systems available to Android and iOS devices. These tests have focused on checking the correct labeling of the icons and buttons available to DreamLab. In the tests carried out it has been verified that the operation using both screen readers is correct, with all the icons and buttons correctly labeled and working correctly.
-Accessibility for people with hearing difficulties: People with hearing difficulties can use the application without any problem, as there is no content in the form of video or audio.
These tests are intended to verify if the application has errors that do not allow it to perform its functions.
During the days that the application was tested, no notable or critical failure was detected in its operation. The only aspect to note is that, since the application works while the mobile is charging and at the same time it must perform calculations internally, sometimes the device can get hotter than desired. Even so, from DreamLab's own page it is specified that the app has been designed to extract only a small amount of battery from the phone, so that DreamLab will only work if the phone is at an optimal temperature. If this temperature is exceeded, DreamLab will pause and display the following message if the application is accessed.
Privacy & Security
Regarding privacy and security of the application, the application does not need any type of registration, or email, or username.
On Android devices, the application requests access to photos, media and file permissions to store small research problems while your phone calculates and solves them. DreamLab will only access files that you have created in file directories. DreamLab does not need access to any private information or photos in order to solve small research problems.
On devices with an iOS operating system, DreamLab does not access any type of private information.
Very interesting application developed by the Vodafone Foundation that allows you to take advantage of the power of the Smartphones processor to accelerate scientific research projects. Thanks to this app and collective processing, thousands of people are already collaborating to help fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) or in cancer research projects.
The application works correctly and during the tests no problem was detected in its operation. As mentioned, when used while the mobile device is charging, it may tend to heat up slightly, but the app itself regulates its use so that this temperature is never excessive.
The operation of the app is simple and intuitive, which allows it to be used by profiles of different ages. In addition, it has been verified by screen readers that, both for Android (TalkBack) and for iOS (Voice Over), it works correctly using both readers, which favors the accessibility of the application for people with reduced or no vision.
Finally, it should be noted that it is completely free and does not offer purchases within the app itself and its use can have a clear positive impact on society. It only requires an Internet connection to use, either via WiFi or mobile data and that the Smartphone is charging.
- Very interesting project with a clear social and research purpose.
- It allows collaboration in different scientific research projects of the user's choice.
- Very intuitive and easy to use interface.
- It allows the user to know, almost in real time and with simple statistics, their contribution to the different projects when using the app. This greatly favors feeling involved in these research projects.
- There is no possibility of using the app without the mobile device charging. From DreamLab they indicate that this is done to avoid discharging the battery of mobile devices.
- Its use slightly slows down the charging speed of the mobile phone if the app is being used.
- On devices with an iOS operating system, you cannot continue to use your mobile normally while the application works in the background.