Samsung launches software update to turn older Galaxy phones into IoT devices

The company's Galaxy Upcycling at Home program will allow consumers to repurpose their older phones into IoT devices, such as childcare monitors and light sensors.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer
Image: Samsung

Samsung said on Wednesday it has launched a new software update that will allow consumers to convert their older Galaxy smartphones to various types of IoT devices.

Called Galaxy Upcycling at Home, it is an expansion of its Galaxy Upcycling program and is aimed at giving new life to older devices. 

Currently in beta, Galaxy Upcycling at Home will be available in South Korea, the US, and the UK first. The company said it would research usage in the three countries and support technical verification, then provide the service to additional countries at a later time.

According to Samsung, the software update provides enhanced sound and light-control features by repurposing built-in sensors of older Galaxy phones. Consumers can use the SmartThings Labs feature on their existing SmartThings app to choose how they want to use these older devices. 

The devices can be turned into smart home devices such as a childcare monitor, a pet care solution, or a light sensor, the South Korean tech giant said.

For sound, thanks to an artificial intelligence solution that enhances the device's ability to distinguish sounds, the old Galaxy devices can be used to save certain sound recordings, such as a baby crying, a dog barking, or a knock. When it detects these sounds, it will alert the consumer's main device so that they can listen to the recordings.

Older devices can also be set up to act as light sensors. They will measure the brightness of a room and automatically turn on the lights or the TV through SmartThings, if it becomes darker than the preset standard.

The update will also come with battery optimisation solutions to minimise battery usage, so that the devices can be used for long periods of time for these new functions, Samsung said.

The feature will be available for all Galaxy S, Note, and Z smartphones that were released from 2018 onwards and run Android 9 and above. More devices will be supported under the program in the future, Samsung said.

"Smart home devices are a fast-growing trend for consumer electronics, and we believe that Galaxy devices currently not in use can play an important role in turning every home into a smart home," Samsung Mobile vice president and head of SmartThings team Jaeyeong Jung said.

"The program transforms Galaxy devices into SmartThings devices and demonstrates the power of our intelligent IoT platform to broaden the possibilities of what users can do with their old phones. Through Galaxy Upcycling at Home, users will have access to the complete SmartThings ecosystem, enabling them to explore broader updates and features without having to purchase a new device."

Samsung Mobile vice president of sustainable management Kim Sung-koo added: "We are rethinking how we use existing resources, and we believe the key to upcycling is to enable solutions that transform old technology into something new by adding value."

Earlier this month, Samsung announced that it was repurposing older Galaxy smartphones to be part of eye care devices that were being provided to health workers in underserved communities around the world.

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