Samsung’s Upcycling Program expansion just gave the company’s old phones a new purpose in life.

Samsung Upcycling at home
An old Samsung smartphone repurposed as a light sensor
Credit: Samsung

The tech giant announced that it is expanding its Galaxy Upcycling program with an initiative called Galaxy Upcycling at Home. This initiative converts old Samsung Galaxy smartphones into a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) devices like childcare monitors and pet care solutions through a software update, giving old phones a new purpose.

The initiative is part of Samsung’s commitment to supporting the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. The company’s initiative was said to be focused on responsible consumption and production, the 12th of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sung-Koo Kim, Vice President of the Sustainability Management Office and Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, said that the company created the initiative to enable more people to turn their old devices into useful tools. The initiative will then allow both the company and their phones’ users to “be mindful of the impact we have on the environment.” He also added that through the initiative, users can also join Samsung’s journey towards a more sustainable future.

A demonstration of how a repurposed Samsung smartphone works as a sound detector
Credit: Samsung

Old Galaxy smartphone users who wish to upcycle their phones will need to download the SmartThings app first. Upcycled devices use an improved artificial intelligence (AI) solution to better distinguish sounds accurately and even save certain sound recordings. Should the device detect certain sounds, an alert will be sent to the user, who then can listen to the sound recording.

An example of how a repurposed Samsung smartphone works as a light sensor
Credit: Samsung

Upcycled devices can also be used as a light sensor to measure the brightness level in a room. Users can set a pre-set light standard on the device so that it can automatically turn on the room’s lights or a nearby TV through SmartThings if the room becomes darker than the pre-set.

Users need not worry about their upcycled devices’ battery; the company included a battery optimisation solution with its Galaxy Upcycling at Home upgrade to lengthen the upcycled device’s battery life. This means that the upcycled device will be able to continuously detect sound and light for a long period of time before recharging. Additionally, Samsung stated that devices will also be able to connect to SmartThings, allowing them to interact with other IoT devices in the SmartThings ecosystem.

Samsung stated that it has recently implemented the beta service for the Galaxy Upcycling at Home feature in the US, UK and Korea. The company also mentioned that the feature will be available on all Samsung S, Note and Z series released from 2018 (S9, Note 9 or later) running Android 9 and above, with more devices being supported in the future.


Written by John Paul Joaquin