Kick-start your smart home by upcycling your old Samsung phone

Samsung Upcycling at Home
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung has rolled out a software update allowing users to turn their old Samsung phones into makeshift smart home devices.

The tech giant announced its Galaxy Upcycling at Home scheme at CES 2021 back in January, but now users in the US, UK and South Korea can benefit from the program in its beta stage.

Essentially, Samsung’s thinking is to reduce waste. It’s likely we all have several old phones lying around the house, and while these products still maintain functionality, the company has developed an initiative to convert them from dust-collecting relics to working IoT (internet of things) devices.

While the update won’t turn your old Samsung phone into anything close to a Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show, it will allow you to transform it into a childcare monitor, pet care solution or light controller by giving it the functionality to detect movement and audio in the home using sensors it already has built-in to its design. 

Samsung Upcycling at Home

(Image credit: Samsung)

The update adds an improved AI system to these devices, too, effectively upcycling them to better distinguish sounds and movement, and users can access these smart home features through SmartThings Labs via the SmartThings app.

For example, an old device’s integrated light sensor could now be used to measure the brightness level of a room. Using the SmartThings app, users could set the phone to automatically turn on the lights if the room becomes darker than a chosen level.

As for which devices will benefit from this new functionality, the Galaxy Upcycling at Home initiative is now available on all Galaxy S, Note and Z models released from 2018 onwards, and equipped with Android 9 and above. Samsung says it will also be adding support for more devices in the future.

Going green

The new initiative joins a long list of similar planet-saving schemes already in place as part of Samsung’s broader Upcycling program introduced back in 2017.

Last year, for example, the company created portable eye exam devices, powered by older Galaxy phones, to be used by organizations in need. It also launched its Eco-Packaging initiative, allowing consumers to repurpose TV boxes into small pieces of furniture.

With each idea, Samsung is clearly trying to push for greater sustainability – on the part of both manufacturer and consumer – while simultaneously ensuring the end user materially benefits from engaging with its schemes. 

That forward-thinking ethos is no more apparent than in its newest Upcycling at Home initiative. Who needs Alexa, anyway?

Via SamMobile 

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.