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Galaxy Upcycling repurposes older Samsung phones into affordable medical diagnosis cameras

The company has now expanded the program to India, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea.
The company has now expanded the program to India, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea. (Samsung)

The fundus camera created from older Galaxy devices, can screen patients eyes for conditions that may lead to blindness, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration leading to blindness.

Back in January, we reported that Samsung had announced at CES 2021 that its four-year-old Galaxy Upcycling program was going to be repurposed to give older Galaxy phones a new sense of purpose again. The company on Wednesday announced that it would now ‘repurpose’ older Galaxy smartphones to improve access to eye care in select countries.

The South Korean company cited World Health Organisation statistics that showed visual impairment is prevalent in some form or other in over a quarter of the world’s population, with over a billion cases either preventable or yet to be addressed. However, access to eye care can be very difficult, especially in lower and middle-class regions, the company says.

Also read: Samsung wants to turn your old phone into a sustainable DIY smart home device with Galaxy Upcycling

As part of the Galaxy Upcycling program, Samsung will allow owners of its older smartphones to gain new smarts, via an operating system update, which will turn it into the “EYELIKE” Fundus camera, which doctors attach a lens to and leverage AI to diagnose and treat ophthalmic diseases. The company says that this app accurately captures patient data and the cost of operation will be a “fraction” of the cost of commercial alternatives.

A Galaxy Upcycling powered “EYELIKE” fundus camera. 
A Galaxy Upcycling powered “EYELIKE” fundus camera. 

A fundus camera can photograph the rear section of a human eye; also known as the fundus. Fundus cameras can also consist of an advanced microscope attached to a camera but these are very expensive and not easily available in all regions. 

The South Korean giant has partnered since 2018 with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) in Korea to work with professionals using the affordable, portable retinal camera. After working with over 19,000 patients in Vietnam, the company has now expanded the program to India, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea.

Samsung says that the fundus camera created from older Galaxy devices can screen patients eyes for conditions that may lead to blindness, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration leading to blindness. In most cases, early detection is key to preventing permanent damage to the patients’ vision.

“We were looking for an eye health diagnosis solution that was cost-effective to reach as many people as possible, and when we saw the performance of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, we wanted to integrate their upcycling efforts into our research,” said Dr Sangchul Yoon of YUHS.

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“The combination of using multiple optical technologies and artificial intelligence, coupled with camera performance of a Galaxy smartphone, created an affordable medical device that was just as capable as a fundus camera used by medical professionals. This not only solved a health issue, but a growing environmental concern as well,” Yoon added.

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