For almost half a decade, the project’s been coming up with different ways to reuse Galaxy phones by upcycling them, the process of giving old devices a new purpose instead of breaking them down for parts. In 2017, the team was able to turn an old Galaxy device into a smart fish tank monitor, as well to repurpose it as a smart pet bowl by using its packaging as a food container. However, Samsung now hopes to grow its upcycling initiative even further by giving Galaxy users themselves the tools to come up with their own smart home ideas.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Upcycling at Home initiative allows users to easily reprogram old Galaxy handsets to function as a particular smart home device that best suits their needs. With the help of Samsung’s dedicated smart home app, SmartThings, older phones can be assigned with different functionalities and work alongside other smart home devices managed through the app. The service is currently in the beta phase for users in the US, UK, and Korea.
How Does Samsung’s Upcycling Initiative Work?
The program repurposes the built-in sensors of old devices, enhancing their sound and light sensitivity. By doing so, old Galaxy handsets can function as smart monitors for keeping tabs of security, children, or pets, among other things. Users can set phones to utilize their sound sensors and alert them whenever it detects sounds like a baby crying, dog barking, or other sounds. Users can even be sent a recording if they want to hear what’s happening at home. Likewise, phones can be instructed to use their enhanced light sensors to automatically turn on lights when it starts getting dark.
Users can customize how their old Galaxy phones function as they please through the SmartThings Labs page found in the SmartThings app. Those who are feeling a bit more creative can make use of the app’s Scenes feature to link multiple old phones functioning as dedicated smart home devices. Of course, there are some limitations, such as its compatibility being limited to Galaxy S, Note, and Z series phones that were released no earlier than in 2018. Although Samsung intends to increase support to even more devices in the future, the service currently only works on devices running on at least Android 9. The Galaxy Upcycling program is just one of Samsung’s environmental sustainability efforts and it will be interesting to see if other smartphone manufacturers can come up with anything similarly creative in their environmental efforts.