The smartphone business isn’t exactly the most eco-friendly. Companies have been working to correct that in recent years, like through programs that disassemble and reuse the metals inside of our phones, but there’s still a long way to go. Samsung has announced an alternative solution to the problem, though — the new Galaxy Upcycling at Home initiative that envisions your old Galaxy phones as smart home devices.
Galaxy Upcycling at Home works with Samsung’s SmartThings smart home system and allows users to designate their old phones as a number of different things.
For starters, an old phone could be used as a childcare tool. In this mode, the phone can use its sensors and microphone to act as a baby monitor and send alerts to your phone if and when it hears crying.
Alternatively, a smartphone can be used as a kind of SmartThings remote, allowing users to trigger scenes and automations, as long as they have other SmartThings devices, and automations for those devices, set up.
Samsung has outlined a number of other things that devices could be used for. For example, they could be used as clocks, music players, security cameras, and more, all accessible through the SmartThings ecosystem.
It’s really an ingenious idea. Smartphones in general are perhaps the smartest devices that we own, and companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on developing every aspect of them. As a result, the camera in your smartphone is probably of much higher quality than your actual security camera.
Of course, there are arguably better ways to recycle old phones. Probably the best way to ensure that a phone doesn’t end up headed right to landfill is to give it to someone or sell it to someone who can keep using it.
We’ll likely get a little more information about the new program at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event on Friday, where it’s expected we’ll finally see the heavily leaked Galaxy S21 series. As a new phone series is released, it’s likely millions of people will be replacing their old devices — and hopefully, the Upcycling at Home program will help ensure that fewer of those old phones end up discarded completely.