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Old phone? Repurpose, reuse, rethink

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Before trashing, cashing-in, or just hoarding your unused old phone, consider repurposing instead. Why let it sit in a landfill, or in a drawer gathering dust? While the device might be outdated, the new world of smart homes and IoT devices makes that old phone more useful than ever. With a bit of creativity and a DIY attitude, the possibilities are endless. Here are just a few examples of how smartphones can be repurposed.

Smart Remote

Are you cutting the cord and need a new remote controller for your steam box, or in need of a replacement for a lost television remote? If your old phone has an IR blaster, you can control devices like your TV, stereo, game console, DVD and music players, even the air conditioners from your phone. Set up is easy—just download an app such as Smart IR Remote. If your phone doesn’t have an IR blaster, then no worries. There are plenty of apps to control specific devices such as Sony, Roku, and Android TV.

Smart Surveillance

Say hello to your pets from the office or just keep an eye on your house and kids by turning an unwanted phone’s camera into a surveillance system. Your old phone can be mounted in your house for added security, a baby monitor, pet cam or even a dashcam. Just like all of these projects, there is very little you need to get started. All you need is a phone, connection to WiFi, charging cables, and a mobile security app. Most apps on the market, such as Alfred or IP Webcam allow motion alerts, live streaming and cloud storage.

For Science

Want to save the world? If you don’t have a need for any of the uses listed above, you can always use it for science to benefit humanity. There’s a wide array of crowd-sourced services that utilize the computing power of your old phone to fuel research projects. Your phone can help researchers fight disease, find life on other planets and detect earthquakes. For instance, take HTC Power To Give, which uses your phone to connect to UC Berkeley’s BIONIC — the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. BIONIC uses your phone’s processing power to research varied areas of science like medicine and astronomy. You can help researchers in Australia fight cancer by using the DreamLab app. Or there’s also the MyShake app that uses the sensors on your phone to detect possible earthquakes.

Although your phone might be outdated or unused, it’s still a sophisticated set of chips, every bit as powerful as most computers built in the 1990s. This article only scratches the surface of what your phone can do. At the cost of charging your phone, your lifestyle (or humanity’s as a whole) could be improved, which sounds like a much better option than having it sit in a landfill forever.