Repurpose Your Old Devices

Repurpose Your Old Devices

The cycle of consumption of electronic gadgets has made electronics waste (e-waste) the world’s fastest-growing solid-waste quandary. As the world is primed to upgrade to 5G wireless technology, experts say it will cause a dramatic increase in e-waste, as millions of smartphones, and other gadgets incompatible with 5G networks become obsolete.

With that in mind, there are some cool ways to give old phones, laptops, and cameras a new life and help keep them out of the landfills. You might be surprised at how many ways you can repurpose an old piece of hardware, even if it's several years old and has become too slow to fulfill its original function properly anymore. Here are a few favorites we have found:

SET UP A WEBCAM (Using a digital camera)

Most laptops come with a webcam built-in nowadays but those often only provide mediocre video quality and have limited options for the position angles you can view. Using a digital camera means your video calls and streaming is going to be of a much higher quality. It also means your webcam can be positioned at any angle and you are able to keep your laptop folded, which is great if you are using a dock.

Camera makers have been pushing out software to enable this functionality, and there are currently official tools from Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, GoPro, and others available. Wired has a great how-to guide available here.

SET UP A SECURITY CAMERA  (Using an old smartphone or tablet)

Using these repurposed gadgets to set up a security camera can provide you with a live video feed that you can tap into using another phone or tablet from anywhere.

Items you will need:

  • A tripod or mount, or an arrangement to prop up the device.
  • Software/App for video monitoring.
  • Keeping the device connected to a power supply.
  • To set up outdoors, the device will need to be waterproof.
SET UP AN DIGITAL FRAME (Using an old tablet)

Finally, enjoy that abundance of digital photos that you've collected over the years! Items you will need:

  • A stand or tripod/mount to prop up the device.
  • Software/App for photo slideshow (Android: try Fotoo | iOS: try LiveFrame)
  • Change settings to keep your tablet on at all times.
  • Keeping the device connected to a power supply.
SET UP A MEDIA REMOTE OR DEVICE HUB (Using an old smartphone or tablet)

Think of all the wireless streaming options we all use nowadays, from Bluetooth devices to media and music platforms. Having them all available on a single media remote or hub can help keep things organized and create easy access to everyone in the house. Setting up a dedicated device will also free up your current personal device from the job and give access without worrying about logins or lock screens.

SET UP A MEDIA CENTER  (Using an old laptop)

Similarly, to creating a dedicated media remote, an old laptop can be repurposed as a media center. Store your video, music, and photo libraries to be accessed and streamed around your home. (Think of all the space you will save on your new laptop!)

There are plenty of specialized Software platforms to help you get organized here are a few options:

  • Windows: if your PC is running Windows, you can rely on the apps you get from the Windows store. Windows has apps for popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and more, so you won't have to run all of those things in browser tabs. Tweaking your user settings in Windows can also give you a more app-focused desktop view that might be more suitable for a media center project.
  • Kodi: Kodi, is a great choice if you have a lot of local content because it helps you to organize them and makes it easy to pick something great to watch. There are also add-ons available to serve as a portal to your various streaming services.
  • Plex: Plex is a media center platform like Kodi. But it is also a media server application, which means that it can make your local files available on other devices. You can use Plex's apps to play your local files on mobile devices, streaming boxes, and more. Plus, you can use Plex's channels (their term for apps) and plug-ins to access streaming services like Netflix.
SET UP AN EREADER (Using an old smartphone or tablet)

Download the Kindle (AndroidiOS), and/or Kobo (AndroidiOS) apps to purchase and read eBooks and listen to audiobooks, on smartphones and tablets. Using these devices is faster than the software onboard the equivalent dedicated eReaders.

To remedy the bright screens of phones and tablets you can update your display settings on your device to reduce the blue light put out by your device's screen (Android: Night Light and iOS: Night Shift).

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