A recycling ATM offers gadget freaks the option to trade in their
discarded mobile phones for cash, rather than dumping them when they go
in for the latest model.
Californian company ecoATM has rolled out the
machine that is sophisticated enough to see if a screen is cracked,
evaluate unwanted goods for resale and recycling - hoping to inspire
people to go green.
Old gadgets still have a value as either an
affordable alternative, spare parts, or even melted down for the
residual value of the metals inside. ecoATM has developed the device
with support from the US National Science Foundation (NSF).
ecoATM finds second homes for three-fourths of the phones it collects,
sending the remaining ones to environmentally responsible recycling
channels to reclaim any rare earth elements and keep toxic components
from landfills. More than 300 kiosks are hoped to be rolled out across
the US by the year-end, the Daily Mail reported.
co-founder Mark Bowles said: "The basic technologies of machine vision,
artificial intelligence, and robotics that we use have existed for many
years, but none have been applied to the particular problem of consumer
"But we've done much more than just apply existing
technology to an old problem - we developed significant innovations for
each of those basic elements to make the system commercially viable,"
Using artificial intelligence (AI) ecoATM kiosks can
differentiate varied consumer electronics products and determine a
market value. If the value is acceptable, users have the option of
receiving cash or store credit for their trade - or donating all or part
of the compensation to one of several charities.
The system began
as a wooden-box prototype that required the presence of an ecoATM
representative to ensure that users were being honest with their trades.
The team therefore developed AI that delivered 97.5 percent
accuracy for device recognition, removing human oversight and making the
system viable. They are currently trying to eliminate the accuracy gap.
are now able to tell the difference between cracked glass on a phone,
which is an inexpensive fix, versus a broken display or bleeding pixels,
which is generally fatal for the device," Bowles added.
company's databases are now trained with images of more than 4,000
devices, and when an identification mistake occurs, the system learns
from that mistake.
When a phone is presented, the AI system
conducts a visual inspection, identifies the device model and provides
one of 23 possible connector cables to link it to the network.
value is then determined based on the company's real-time, worldwide,
pre-auction system in which a broad network of buyers have already bid
on the old technology, so the kiosk can immediately provide