How to turn an old iPhone into a media center.

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I just wrapped up a small side project at work where I wanted to explore how to give an old phone new life. LPK is generous enough to provide phones to all of us, but I wondered what happened to the old ones when we go through the inevitable annual iPhone update. With a help from our product design team member Eric Sillies, and their very cool 3D printer, I came up with a product and solution to recycle the old, outdated phones into media centers.

If you’re interested in how I came to my solution see below, scroll further to see the how-to portion.

The Original Plan

This idea first came from a desire to add music to our elevators. Our office elevators are terrifying. They are very dreary and people are constantly getting stuck in them. I also personally hate the elevator space itself, in general. As a space we constantly have to experience in our lives, it’s cramped, sometimes smells weird, and provides the worst kind of environment for awkward small talk.

iphone media center
The original sketch.

There were some security risks to this idea, namely the possibility of someone coming into the building, ripping the holder off the wall and running off with the phone. Tamper proof screws exist, but we have some pretty determined criminals here in Cincinnati.

Not wanting to destroy the elevator at the expense of a few moments of music, we pivoted the idea into creating a media center for one of our more fun office spaces, the foosball room.

A few quick product sketches…

iphone media center

Led to a very quick first render of the product in an awesome in-browser tool called TinkerCad

iphone media center

Then some fun explorations in 3D printing..

iphone media center

Which led to prototypes…

iphone media center

Add some fun signage, and maybe a little brand identity…

iphone media center

And the final product was born.

iphone media center

iphone media center

It was probably a bit excessive to create an entirely new product to put a cell phone on a wall, but this way I was able to create a solution custom to LPK, while considering our security risks. A great at-home phone wall-mount can be found on amazon.

How To Make Your Old iPhone into a Media Center

  1. Take your old iPhone, and download a music provider, I would recommend Spotify. Other music programs are great, but with Spotify you can control your music with your primary phone like a remote control.
  2. Make sure the phone is securely connected to a wifi network, since hopefully you’ve cancelled your data plan on this phone.
  3. Obtain or make, a wall-mount.
  4. Install your wall-mount in a space you want to activate with music.
  5. Open Spotify, choose your music and enjoy!
  6. To control this media center with a remote, open the app on your primary phone, and Spotify will prompt you to choose which device you’d like to keep listening on. Choose your media center device, and if select a new song on your primary device. The media center iPhone will play the selected song! So cool! If you ever want to switch back to your primary phone you can find that option at the bottom of their UI.
  7.  IMG_7736 IMG_7737
  8. To take this a step further and make this media center even more secure and disable access to all other apps on the phone, you can use a feature called Guided Access. Guided Access is great for parties when you want to stop a wayward guest from looking through your pictures or other apps. To enable Guided Access access, tap your settings icon: .
  9. Click ‘General’.
    IMG_7739
  10. Then ‘Accessibility’.
    IMG_7740
  11. And down at the very bottom is ‘Guided Access’.
    IMG_7741
  12. Switch on, and then you’re given a few options. Choose ‘Passcode Settings’.
    IMG_7742 IMG_7743 copy
  13. Here you can choose whether you’d like to unlock Guided Access with a passcode or with TouchID.
  14. To enable Guided Access mode, open the app you’d like to remain open, and triple-click the home button, and click start in the upper right hand corner.
  15. To escape Guided Access mode, triple-click your home button again, input your passcode, and your phone becomes unlocked.

Okay this is cool, but why?

  1. Provide a fun and collaborative music and DJ space at a party, without compromising phone security.
  2. Make a tiny micro-media space in your home.
  3. Create a party-zone at work.
  4. Spotify has a very loud community of people clamoring for an alarm function, so if this is hopefully integrated into their platform someday, you could even build a wall-mount for a phone alarm clock!

There’s tons of uses for old iPhones, as long as you make them easy to access and more user-friendly with some kind of wall-mount. So if you want to do more than just send back your old phone for recycling, or selling it, they can make for a fun repurposing project.