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EcoATM, an Automated iPhone Pawn Shop, Encourages Recycling

By   /   September 29, 2012  /   No Comments

In 2008, Mark Bowles realized he didn’t know where to recycle his old phones and that’s when he had the idea for EcoATM’s, an automated iPhone Pawn Shop.  They are currently operating in 10 U.S. states and Bowles’s San Diego company installs 2-3 more per day.  The kiosk works using cameras, artificial intelligence and proprietary algorithms to recognize 4,000 phones, MP3 players and tables with 97.5% accuracy.  Not only can the machine recognize the devices but it can also assess physical and electrical damage and then calculate a cash offer.  Similar to selling your broken jewelry for scrap gold, EcoATM takes broken and beat up phones and makes a profit selling the mined parts.  Currently only 20% of phones in the U.S. are recycled.  Similar to a regular pawn shop model, customers have to provide driver’s license numbers and thumbprints to discourage theft.  According to Bowles the EcoATM has been tricked into paying for about three dozen fakes, but each time he is able to refine his technology.

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