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KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 -- Samsung Electronics is repurposing older Galaxy smartphones to create medical devices that enable greater access to ophthalmic healthcare in underserved communities in Vietnam, India, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.
For this initiative, the electronics company has partnered with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) in Korea.
In a statement, Samsung said the Galaxy Upcycling programme is helping to address approximately one billion global cases of vision impairment that are preventable with a proper diagnosis.
Its vice-president of sustainable management office, mobile communications business Kim Sung-koo said the programme embodies Samsung’s belief that technology can enrich people’s lives and help the company build a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
“People around the globe face barriers to access fundamental health care and we saw an opportunity to engineer smart, innovative solutions that reuse products to drive more sustainable practices and make a positive impact in our communities," he said.
In 2017, Samsung created the Galaxy Upcycling programme to introduce innovative ways that Galaxy devices can make a positive impact, where an older Galaxy smartphone can become the brain of the EYELIKE handheld fundus camera, which connects to a lens attachment for enhanced fundus diagnosis, while the smartphone is used to capture images.
The Galaxy device then utilises an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyse and diagnose the images for ophthalmic diseases and connects to an app that accurately captures patient data and suggests a treatment regimen at a fraction of the cost of commercial instruments, it said.
It said the unique and affordable diagnosis camera can screen patients for conditions that may lead to blindness, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
"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," said Dr Sangchul Yoon of Yonsei University Health System.
Since 2018, Samsung has partnered with IAPB and Yonsei University Health System to benefit the lives and vision of more than 19,000 residents in Vietnam with its portable retinal camera and in 2019, it supplied 90 portable ophthalmoscopes to health professionals operating in remote regions of the country without access to walk-in clinics.
Now, Samsung has expanded the programme to India, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.
Samsung also broadening its capabilities to new screening areas, including using upcycled Galaxy devices to create smartphone-based portable colposcopes to screen for cervical cancer and improve women’s accessibility to quality health care.
In addition to its commitment to purposeful innovation, Samsung is building environmental sustainability that includes working towards its goal of collecting 7.5 million tons of e-waste and making use of 500,000 tons of recycled plastic by 2030, it said.
It said by transforming Galaxy smartphones into low-cost, portable eye diagnosis equipment, Samsung helps divert e-waste from landfill while providing innovative medical solutions to underserved communities.
“Additionally, the fundus camera diagnosis equipment is made with 35 per cent recycled content and is designed for easy reuse. It has been recognised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a Sustainable Materials Management Cutting Edge Champion Award.
“The Galaxy Upcycling programme is part of Samsung’s continued commitment to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” it added.