Samsung Smart Home

Samsung SmartThings Turns Old Galaxy Devices into Smart Home Audio Sensors

Samsung has launched a program to turn old Galaxy smartphones into Internet of Things (IoT) sensors for a smart home ecosystem via the SmartThings platform. The Galaxy Upcycling at Home program adapts the phones to respond to sound and light in a way that enhances the intelligence of the smart home. The repurposed phones also operate through Google Nest, thanks to the ongoing partnership between the two companies.

Galaxy Homes

Galaxy Upcycling at Home runs through the Labs feature of the SmartThings app. Once the program is installed, the smartphone becomes an extension of the home’s AI through its microphones and cameras. The upcycled phone listens for sounds the user might want to know about such as a knock at the door, a crying baby, or a dog barking. forwarding an alert to their current smartphone with a recording so they are aware of the event. It shares some similarities with the Sound Notifications accessibility feature Android debuted last fall. Though Sound Notifications was designed specifically for those with hearing difficulty or who otherwise might not be aware of the sounds they should pay attention to, it’s easy to imagine the alerts as useful for anyone with smart home devices.

The device’s camera, meanwhile, becomes a light detector that the smart home’s AI can use when making decisions about whether to adjust the lighting in the room to fit preset conditions on the SmartThings (or Google Nest) system. The program also adjusts the Galaxy’s battery to operate more efficiently since it needs to passively wait for stimulus for long periods. Galaxy Upcycling at Home is still in beta and limited to the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea, but is slated to add new features and locations after the kinks are worked out.

Smarter Homes

Google Nest’s integration with Samsung SmartThings was announced last year, but took a big leap forward in January when SmartThings introduced a Google Nest app for its platform, giving extensive but incomplete control over Nest devices to SmartThings users. The app lets users add Nest devices to the SmartThings controls, Nest can integrate devices certified in the Works With SmartThings (WWST) program. Though Nest is not explicitly cited in the upcycling update, the relatively basic nature of the adapted Galaxy devices should make it simple to include with Nest as well. And the certification means there shouldn’t be an issue with the tightened safety and quality standards Google introduced for voice-enabled apps in March.

“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,” SmartThings team lead Jaeyeon Jung said in a statement. “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.”


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