Samsung opens Galaxy Upcycling beta to turn old phones into IoT gadgets

With their loaded device line-ups getting refreshed every year, smartphone makers are facing mounting criticism over their contributions to electronic waste. Samsung — which currently has more than 20 handsets for sale on its store after past efforts to cut its range by 30 percent — is hoping to resurrect old phones by repurposing them into smart home gadgets. Though the process of upcycling isn’t new, we applauded the company’s sustainability initiative for promising easy access to new functions inside existing devices. Now, the Galaxy Upcycling at Home program is making its way to the public.

Starting today, Samsung is opening the program’s beta for people in the US, UK and its native Korea. Like its other smart home experiments, Samsung is testing out the Upcycling software via the SmartThings Labs feature in its SmartThings app. Once enabled, users will be able to use their old Galaxy phones as baby monitors or light detectors with the help of repurposed sensors, improved AI and battery optimization.

In the case of the sound monitor, the device will alert you to recordings it’s picked up (such as a baby crying or dog barking) for you to listen back to. While the light sensor can measure the brightness level of a room and automatically turn on the lights or the TV if the room becomes darker than your preset standard. As smart home devices tend to operate for long durations, Samsung’s upgrade will also minimize battery usage, so your tired old handset keeps powering on.

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