Shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show, the EcoATM is a stand-alone computerized kiosk that accepts old electronics like previous versions of the iPhone and offers cash in exchange. After taking a smartphone out of a case and attaching a QR code sticker to the rear of the device, the user places the old technology into the machine. The EcoATM scans the device and determines what type of electronics is sitting in the tray. It also scans for cracks, scratches and other blemishes that would likely reduce the value of the smartphone if sold on a service like eBay. The EcoATM generates a rough estimate of the value of the device and asks the user if they would like to continue.
If the user chooses to continue the evaluation process, the kiosk produces the correct dock connector automatically and requests that the user plug in the device to the EcoATM. The kiosk is attempting to evaluate the electronics inside the device and make sure the device is in working order. Once the internal hardware has been verified as working, the EcoATM offers a final price based on the evaluation and the user can choose to take the entire offer or donate part of it to charity. In order to complete the process, the user must hold up a government ID to the EcoATM as well as scan the user’s thumbprint. This extra layer of security is included to scare off thieves. In addition, there are two cameras within the kiosk taking photos of the user during the entire process.
While someone trading in their smartphone would likely make more money selling the device on eBay, the convenience of using the kiosk is targeted at people that may be unfamiliar with eBay auctions or simply don’t have the time for that process. EcoATM makes money off reselling the devices in good shape through online auctions as well as breaking down broken electronics into mineral form to sell. EcoATM currently has about 50 kiosks mostly available in southern California, but hopes to expand eastward with a total of 500 kiosks by the end of 2012.