By: Gordon Zheng,
Photo taken by @thetonyblank, devangelist at Context IO

Photo taken by @thetonyblank, devangelist at Context IO

This weekend, the Dwolla devangelists were in Austin for HackTX, the biggest hackathon in Texas, held at the exquisite University of Texas campus at Austin. Also happening in the area was the Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Texas Longhorns game, which brought herds of tailgating fans, and the F1 US Grand Prix, which attracted a crowd of 100,000+. Despite this, the real fun was to be had at HackTX, where hackers concentrated their brainpower on awesome projects like this one:

That's an Arduino being hooked up to a quadcoptor!

That’s an Arduino being hooked up to a quadcoptor!


A screenshot from Morpheus.

A screenshot from Morpheus.

Morpheus, whose name bears no relation to the well-known leader in the human fight against dystopian robot overlords from The Matrix, is actually named after the Greek god of dreams and sleep. Morpheus is a platform that brings distributed computing to mobile devices.

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are exponentially increasing in processing power.  If we consider that my HTC One is resting idly in my pocket or missing underneath my bed 80% of the time, the true potential of its quad-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon processor is being wasted.  It could instead be used to work in a cluster of other computing devices to tackle large computational problems, like those being solved by Folding@Home, a project that takes advantage of the powerful Playstation 3’s that gamers have sitting in their homes to simulate protein folding, design medical drugs, and understand molecular dynamics to save human lives.

The true power of this project is realized when you consider that smartphones and tablets are growing in their ubiquity.  Think about the impact that billions of super-quick devices could have if they were used for a purpose greater than taking selfies and tweeting about what you’re about to buy from the supermarket.

Now, you may be inclined to ask:

“But, do you really think people will drain their battery just because of the philanthropic goodness of their hearts?”

Morpheus answers this in two ways:

  1. Participants only leave their phone to compute when charging at night.
  2. Researchers will pay participants, using Dwolla, for the work their phone does.

So, in essence, you’ll get paid while you sleep, just for running a simple app on your phone.  This is mind-bogglingly cool and has a ton of potential to do good for the world.  For this, Morpheus deserves Dwolla’s API prize for using our API in such a fascinating way.  Morpheus was developed by uTexas students Eduardo Saenz, Bulat Bazarbayev, Comyar Zaheri Brandon Lee, and Sudheesh Katkam.

The Morpheus team!

The Morpheus team!


We’d like to give a massive thanks to Stephan Wan, Taylor Barnett, and Vivek Karuturi for bringing together all the ingredients of hackathons and cooking up (or since it’s Texas, barbecuing up) HackTX.  We had boat loads of fun and will definitely be returning next year!

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