A vending machine with a difference: this one buys your old phone

I`m visiting San Jose and looked into the Valley Fair shopping mall. I was intrigued to see an inverse vending machine, one that buys your old phone or other gadgets.

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You tap the screen to start the sale or get a valuation. Then you pop your old phone into the receptacle and the machine checks it out, using “Advanced machine vision and artificial intelligence” to work out what you have put in. You have power up your device for a second stage evaluation, presumably to check whether it actually works. Finally, you get paid in cash or credit, with an option to donate to charity.

The EcoATM machine will take anything, though some devices have zero value in which case you have only the warm glow of satisfaction that comes from recycling.

I was offered up to $104 for my 8GB Apple iPhone 4, though it was a valuation only since the machine was sadly not fully working. Of course you could do better on eBay, but instant cash and no hassle has its attractions.

OK, so what if you grab someone else’s phone, throw it into the machine, and walk away with the cash? The makers claim to have all sorts of anti-theft measures, including video of you doing the deed, though conceptually the idea does seem vulnerable to abuse.

These machines are USA only at the moment, though an international roll-out is planned.

Find out more here, or by watching the video below.

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