London: Coming soon! A recycling ATM which can take in an old mobile phone and pay out an agreed price on the spot.
Most of us have an old mobile phone floating around in a drawer somewhere. Now, inventors are hoping to get people recycling their old phones by rolling out an 'ATM' which can take an old mobile and pay out the agreed price.
The machine is sophisticated enough that it can even see if a screen is cracked, the kiosks evaluate unwanted goods for resale and recycling, hoping to inspire people to go green.
Just because a new phone has come out, old devices still have a value as either an affordable alternative, spare parts, or even melted down for the residual value of the metals inside.
Californian company ecoATM with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), has developed the system that lets consumers trade in those devices for reimbursement or recycling, the Daily Mail reported.
Company 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 recycling."
"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," he said.
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 machine becomes 'smarter' over time, based on previous transactions.
The 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 end of the year.
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.
While that setup proved consumers would be comfortable with the device-exchange concept, it was limited by the need for human intervention.
The team therefore developed artificial intelligence and diagnostics 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.
First Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 18:23