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Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling program still lives, and it could take off soon

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Last updated: December 18th, 2019 at 17:33 UTC+02:00

Some of our readers might recall Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling program unveiled a couple of years ago. It was meant to give mobile users ideas on how they can repurpose older Galaxy hardware and reduce e-waste.

Not a lot has come out of this idea over the past couple of years and the program is still technically not live yet, but Samsung hasn’t forgotten about it and it might bring it to some markets, including Vietnam, soon. Not through hardware repurposed as a Bitcoin mining rig, but through a medical eye screening device made out of old Galaxy phones.

Mark Newton, head of corporate sustainability at Samsung Electronics America, talked again about the program at a recent conference, where the company also demonstrated the concept of a medical device capable of screening for eye diseases. Following the Galaxy Upcycling program philosophy, the device was built from an older camera-equipped Galaxy phone that’s no longer used for its original primary function. There’s no word on when this concept might become a reality, but it did show that older devices can still be useful.

This is the highest order of a circular economy strategy

Samsung has been making great progress in reducing e-waste and achieving a circular economy. The company has had at least a couple of campaigns this year to promote recycling, and Samsung Display was recently awarded a Gold certificate by UL for its waste-recycling efforts.

But recycling and upcycling are two different concepts. The former aims to recycle raw materials from older products and use those materials in newer devices. The latter aims to repurpose existing products, such as Galaxy smartphones, and put that processing power to use in different ways.

These products have enough processing power to do a lot of things‘ claimed Mark Newton, adding that the Upcycling program represents ‘the highest order of a circular economy strategy.’

A medical device built from an old Galaxy smartphone, capable of screening for eye diseases, is a prime example of how old hardware can be repurposed with the help of custom software. If a real product based on this concept would exist, it could prove useful in countries with emerging economies, where healthcare diagnostic tools may be in short supply.

According to the recent report by GreenBiz citing Mark Newton, Samsung wants to test the eye screening solution presented at the conference in several markets, with Vietnam being the first. Having said that, we might start hearing more about Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling program in the near future. Readers who might want to be updated on the company’s progress on the matter can visit the official Galaxy Upcycling page and subscribe via email.

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