Samsung is one of the largest manufactures of consumer electronics in the world. They have manufactured some pretty amazing phones in the past. However, as time goes by these devices become outdated. People will buy new ones and the old phones loose value. In Order to promote reuse, Samsung has started an ‘UpCycling’ Program. UpCycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Samsung has created a BitCoin Mining rig out of these old Galaxy S5’s.
Bitcoin is a well known cryptocurrency and digital payment system. It is a decentralised digital currency, this means that this system works without a central repository. Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the blockchain. In this way new bitcoins are released. Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining.
The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards.
Samsung’s upcycling initiative has built a bitcoin mining rig which was unveiled during their annual Developer Conference held in San Francisco. This rig has around 40 Galaxy S5’s plugged into a specialized chassis. This is the product of Samsung’s Creative Child. The entire rig runs on a proprietary software specially made for these Galaxy S5s. Even though people may not have a bunch of Galaxy S5’s lying around to build this system that can run this software, It shows that Samsung is trying to use these outdated devices.
Samsung has taken up this upcycling initiative quite seriously. Apart from this Bitcoin mining rig, Samsung’s UpCycling Program has converted an old Galaxy Tablet into a ‘laptop’ with the ability to run Ubuntu. It has also repurposed the older Galaxy S3 to monitor a fishtank. They also modified an old camera phone to support facial recognition software, thus forming the bases of a Home Security System.
The company has promised to release these showcased projects online for free. Samsung’s spokesperson, Mr. Robin Schultz, has said that the heart of this “innovative platform provides an environmentally responsible way for old Galaxy mobile devices to breathe new life, providing new possibilities and potential extended value for devices that might otherwise be forgotten in desk drawers or discarded.”
CEO of iFixit, Mr. Kyle Wiens has praised this UpCycling Project from Samsung. He says that most of these old phones run older software, that is insecure and most of these phone can not run newer apps. This project provides a perfect way to put these old hardware into good use. He also says that the software Samsung is running on these phone involves complete removal of Android OS. This project has the potential to add secondary market value to these old outdated Samsung Phones.
Samsung has now opened up a GitHub page for the UpCycling Project. This webpage is said to help build a decentralized community for the project, that will help to find out innovative ways to repurpose of outdated technology.