Intelligent Energy

An ATM to buy your old iPhone

An ATM to buy your old iPhone

Posting in Energy

Keeping that old Blackberry for sentimental reasons? San Diego start-up EcoATM raises more than $14 million in capital for their kiosks that recycle used electronics.

The iPhone devotees that recently switched from AT&T to Verizon need to get a new iPhone to work with their new service. They could do a number of things with their old phone—eBay, give it to a friend, store it in a junk drawer, or toss it out and add to the millions of tons of toxic e-waste collecting in landfills.

Soon there may be another option. Take it to an ecoATM.

An ecoATM is an eCycling station that can scan your portable electronic device, check to see how well it works, and offer you cash right for it—right there in the supermarket.

The company says they will erase any personal info left on the device. It announced this week raising $14.4 million through Claremont Creek Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in IT tech, and Coinstar, the operator of almost 19,000 change-to-cash machines nationwide. The funds will help commercialize and launch the kiosks in the U.S. and internationally.

Americans' cell phone turnover each year, ecoATM estimates, comes in at about $7 billion. With around 3 billion devices in American households, many of these products have been rendered obsolete for one reason or another (some better than others). They now serve as above-ground time capsules or uncomfortable reminders of your hoarding* or shopping tendencies.

ecoATM also just received a National Science Foundation grant to upgrade the machine's analytical prowess.

ecoATM CEO Tom Tullie in a statement:

ecoATM’s systems must quickly learn and then accurately identify thousands of different models of phones and other devices and then precisely assess any cosmetic or internal damage in order for the system to work. This requires us to continually push the boundaries on a unique combination of artificial intelligence and non-traditional machine vision technology.

So it's kind of a cross between Watson and an ATM. Your e-junk serves as the bank card. Of course, you don't have to make a withdraw, the kiosk gives you the option of donating the money to a charity as well.

Check out how it works below. (It reminds me of a magical gadget-eating oven.)

Related on SmartPlanet:

Image: EcoATM
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: CNET
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Melissa Mahony

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Melissa Mahony has written for Scientific American Mind, Audubon Magazine, Plenty Magazine and LiveScience. Formerly, she was an editor at Wildlife Conservation magazine. She holds degrees from Boston College and New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure