Scientists at CERN in Switzerland and in the US have been developing a new kind of computer system that is already being described as the successor to the World Wide Web.
Known as the Worldwide Grid, it would give users access to the computing power of all the machines connected to a network no matter where they are in the world.
The technology could turn desktop computers into supercomputers and is now being adapted to allow mobile devices such as phones and tablets to connect.
The World Community Grid now allows Google’s Android devices to work on the Grid.
Last month researchers began using the combined power of volunteer’s handsets to search for new drug candidates against HIV.
Around 20,000 smartphones are now on the network, along with 500,000 personal computers.
David Anderson, a researcher at the University of Berkeley’s space sciences laboratory, said: “There are about a billion Android devices right now, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers.
“Mobile devices are the wave of the future in many ways, including the raw computing power they can provide to solve computationally difficult problems.”