Update 1 (04/22/2021 @ 1:36 PM ET): Galaxy Upcycling at Home has launched in beta in the US, the UK, and Korea. Click here for more information. The article, as published on January 11, 2021, is preserved below.

If you own an old Samsung device that’s collecting dust on your shelf, you finally have a reason to power it back up. At the company’s CES 2021 event on Monday, Samsung announced a Galaxy Upcycling at Home program that will turn old smartphones into IoT solutions.

The Galaxy Upcycling at Home program will offer consumers the option to repurpose their old phones into things like a baby listening monitor or security device with Samsung Knox. You could put an old Samsung phone in a nursery and it can listen for a crying baby, for example, and send you notifications. Samsung also teased the system could potentially be used as a pet care tool.

“The new program reimagines the lifecycle of an older Galaxy phone and offers consumers options on how they might be able to repurpose their device to create a variety of convenient IoT tools,” Samsung said.

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Samsung said it’s planning to release a software update to older devices, although it’s unclear which devices will be on the list. It’s also unclear which versions of Android Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling at Home program will support. Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t share an ETA for when Galaxy Upcycling at Home will launch.

With e-waste becoming a major problem thanks to the rise in smartphone popularity, Samsung’s program is a really clever way to extend the life of older devices.

Samsung originally announced its Galaxy Upcycling program in 2017 in an effort to promote sustainability by repurposing older devices for new uses. In the video above, Samsung explains that some of its older phones were previously reimagined into portable eye exam devices. It’s an innovative way to lessen the impact of waste and promote recycling and repurposing.

Once Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling at Home program is released, we’ll be sure to let you know.


Update 1: First Beta Launch

In a press release, Samsung announced that the beta service for Galaxy Upcycling at Home has launched in the US, the UK, and South Korea. The service is available through SmartThings Labs found within the SmartThings app. Once your old Galaxy device has been added to SmartThings, it’ll be recognized as an IoT device that you can see and control from the SmartThings app. At launch, Galaxy Upcycling at Home enables devices to do the following:

  • Using an improved artificial intelligence (AI) solution, Galaxy devices can more accurately distinguish sounds in everyday surroundings, and users can choose to save certain sound recordings. For example, if the device detects sounds such as a baby crying, dog barking, cat meowing, or a knock, it will send an alert directly to the user’s smartphone and the user can listen to the recorded sound.
  • Devices can also be used as a light sensor to measure the brightness level of the room. Users can easily set the device to automatically turn on the lights or the TV through SmartThings if the room becomes darker than the preset standard of light.

Because these features require the phone to continuously operate, Samsung has introduced some unspecified battery optimization solutions so as to not wear out the battery longevity from frequent charging/discharging. The only devices that are currently supported by Galaxy Upcycling at Home are all S, Note, and Z series devices released from 2018 onward (ie. the S9, Note 9, and any newer devices) running Android 9 Pie or later. Samsung says that “more devices will be supported in the future”, which hopefully includes some Galaxy A series devices.

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