ecoATM recycles and buys back your tech | Cool Mom TechI am fascinated by the concept of something called an ecoATM. My first thought is that it runs on solar power and doesn’t print receipts. But then I learned it’s not about getting money. At least not without putting more inside it than a debit card.

The ecoATM is starting to crop up in malls and high-traffic locations around the country. (Find us in the Westfield Mission Valley Mall at the food court next to Macy’s Home Furniture!) It’s essentially an automated way to get market value resale prices for your used mobile phones, tablets and MP3 players. Sorry for those of you looking to dump that old blueberry iMac.

The technology is super cool–watch the demo video to get a sense of it–and the prices you’re offered are based on the condition and resale value, fetching you anywhere up to a reported $300 for a new phone.

Now here’s the crazy techie stuff: there’s all kinds of fancy electrical diagnostics, a vision system, and “artificial intelligence” (really) to determine the value of your used tech. It will know if your screen is cracked or there’s water damage from that one time at the pool. It also means the valuation system is better than a guy in a pawn shop going eh, I’ll give you five bucks for an iPad 2 in great shape.

Other nice things about this: You get paid immediately. You can reject the price if you don’t like it. Or if the item has no resale value, it will be properly recycled. I also like that you can recycle chargers and acccessories through the machines, even if you don’t get paid for them, and have the option to donate some or all of your cash to one of several charities instead of keeping the money.

Now here’s the Big Brother part: you have to present a valid ID at the ecoATM which is scanned and then checked by real people against photos of you in front of the machine to ensure that you’re that person, and over 18. I get it, because it’s what helps prevent fraud. But on top of that, your thumbprint is scanned at the kiosk and your info shared with national law enforcement agencies. I suppose that’s not scary if you’re not a cell phone thief, but wow…that’s a lot of info I’m giving out just to be able to recycle an old Nokia from 1998.

On the other hand, it’s reassuring to know that if someone tries to pawn off your own stolen phone through the kiosk, you’ll probably get it back. I can’t think of another ATM that tracks you down to give you anything at all. –Liz

Find an ecoATM location near you and learn more about reselling your tech with ecoATM from the ecoATM website.

Also visit this post on 5 easy ways to recycle your tech.