Samsung upcycles older phones to diagnose eye diseases in impoverished communities

The electronics giant has been repurposing older Galaxy model smartphones for medical uses.
By Thiru Gunasegaran
05:52 am
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(Credit: Samsung)

Samsung has developed a medical device that uses older models of its Galaxy smartphone line to screen for eye diseases in underserved areas.

The global electronics firm teamed up with International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and Yonsei University Health System in South Korea to create the EYELIKE fundus camera under its Galaxy Upcycling programme, which started in 2017.

WHAT IT DOES

An old unused Galaxy smartphone is used to capture images through a lens attachment. The device then uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyse and diagnose the images for ophthalmic disease. It also connects to an app that gathers patient data and suggests a treatment regimen.

The EYELIKE fundus camera can screen patients for conditions that may lead to blindness, including diabetic retinopathy; glaucoma; and age-related macular degeneration.

WHY IT MATTERS

Since 2018, Samsung and its partners have screened more than 19,000 residents in Vietnam using portable retinal cameras. In 2019 alone, they supplied 90 portable ophthalmoscopes to health professionals operating in remote regions of the country. The Galaxy Upcycling programme has now expanded to India, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.

At least 2.2 billion people worldwide are dealing with near or distance vision impairments, nearly half of which are preventable or have yet to be addressed, the World Health Organization reported. The affordability and availability of eye care services are challenges in addressing these concerns, which are four times more common in low and middle-income regions than in high-income areas.

The electronics giant is also broadening its capabilities to use repurposed Galaxy devices in making smartphone-enabled portable colposcopes to screen for cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s upcycling programme, which mainly aims to provide innovative medical solutions to poor communities, also helps divert electronic waste from landfills. Its reusable fundus camera equipment is said to be made with 35% recycled content.

THE LARGER TREND

Samsung has been penetrating the healthcare space with its suite of solutions featuring its security software solution Knox. Also, the electronics maker has introduced various digital health tools, the most recent of which are the blood pressure measurement and ECG monitoring tools in its consumer smartwatches.

ON THE RECORD

"People around the globe face barriers to accessing 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," said Sung-Koo Kim, VP of Sustainability Management Office, Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics.

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