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.
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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.
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.
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?
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