Samsung makes it possible to use old Galaxy phones as IoT devices


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Samsung wants to reduce e-waste generated by its Galaxy devices by giving older phones a new life with the Galaxy Upcycling at Home program, which is available in beta starting today. Right now, only users in South Korea, the UK, and the U.S. can join the program.

If you’re not familiar with Galaxy Upcycling, Samsung has been investing in it for some time, but not exactly at a consumer level. The program repurposes old Galaxy devices to be used in radically different scenarios, such as a camera to help diagnose blindness in patients in underserved regions.

Galaxy Upcycling at Home takes that idea directly to the consumer, specifically by letting them repurporse old Galaxy phones as IoT devices. Right now, only two major features are available: you can use the old phone as a sound sensor, which will alert you on your main phone or other device when it hears a baby crying, a dog barking, or a door knocking; or you can use it as a light sensor, so the phone can turn on the lights when it gets dark outside. Naturally, these devices all connect to Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem.

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A Galaxy phone being used as a sound sensor and notifying the user on another phone

Of course, unlike the regular purpose of a smartphone, these sensors need to be active continuously for a long time, so Samsung says it’s also making battery optimizations to minimize battery usage for phones in the Galaxy Upcycling at Home program.

At the moment, only Galaxy S, Note, and Z series phones released from 2019 onward with Android 9 or higher are supported by the program, which may leave it out of reach for the majority of users. However, Samsung says it will keep expanding the program, so hopefully more mid-range and/or older devices will be eligible at some point.

If you’re interested in trying this out, you can head into the SmartThings app and find the Labs section to set up your old phone as an IoT device.

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