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01/16/2012

Vending machine buys old phones for cash

What do you do with your old phones? A new concept being launched in the US will let people sell their old, outdated equipment - to a machine.

EcoATMGen3Launched at CES last week, EcoATM is a vending machine that buys instead of sells. Users take their old equipment to the device, which then takes a picture of it and uses artificial intelligence to process the image and work out what it is. The system then provides an appropriate power cable that the user plugs in to prove that it works.

My first question was what happens if someone steals your phone to sell it. EcoATM tries to solve that problem by requiring the user to swipe their driver's license. It takes an image of the license, so that it can track the user in the event of any fraud or theft. Of course, if they steal a driver's license along with the phone, they could still sell the device, but then, they could sell it on Craigslist too, without any ID.

Once the phone has been scanned, the machine will offer the user a price for the device, and they can then either accept the cash, or get their device back. If they accept the payment, they can choose to make a donation to one of a selection of charities displayed by the machine.

This will be rolled out in the US. For the time being, those of us living north of the border will still be selling our old kit online, giving it to friends, or taking it to a recycling centre. In addition to Craigslist, Kijiji and eBay, there are other options. BuyMyTronics and NextWorth both buy your used electronics, and off you pre-arranged pricing based on the model and the condition that you describe on their web sites. The downside to these services is that you must pay for shipping to the US.

How do you get rid of your old electronics? And how quickly do you  replace your phone?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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