SAN DIEGO, Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- ecoATM, the award-winning San Diego start-up known for its commitment to the environment and its innovative kiosks that recycle consumer electronics, today announced that it has been awarded a Phase 1 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further refine and expand its research and development in advanced machine vision, artificial intelligence, and testing systems for used electronics.
Concurrently, the company announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office had granted its first patent on the ecoATM system, issued under patent number 7881965.
"ecoATM's systems must quickly learn and then accurately identify thousands of different models of phones and other devices and then precisely assess any cosmetic or internal damage in order for the system to work," said ecoATM Chairman and CEO Tom Tullie. "This requires us to continually push the boundaries on a unique combination of artificial intelligence and non-traditional machine vision technology. We are very happy that the USPTO has awarded these efforts with our first important patent and are extremely grateful to the NSF for their support as we refine and expand this technology."
"The NSF Phase 1 grant will help us further refine the precision of our system and to broaden the spectrum of devices the system can handle," said Mark Bowles, ecoATM co-founder and principal investigator on the NSF project. "This is a win-win-win for us, the consumer and the environment."
Inventors named on the patent are ecoATM founders Mark Bowles, Michael Librizzi, and Pieter van Rooyen. ecoATM began with, and continues to pursue, an aggressive IP and patent strategy which includes a broad set of patent applications on their inventions.
In a separate announcement today, ecoATM said it has closed the first round of its Series A preferred stock offering. The aggregate amount raised is $14.4 million.
Based in San Diego, Calif., ecoATM (http://www.ecoatm.com) is the first company to create an automated self-serve kiosk system that uses patented, advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics, and artificial intelligence to evaluate and buy-back used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit. ecoATM's eCycling stations provide a convenient trade-in solution that:
- electronically and/or visually inspects virtually any consumer electronic device,
- connects consumers in real-time with a broad worldwide secondary market to ensure best pricing, and
- pays consumers immediately in cash and/or store credit, and
- automatically administers trade-in / trade-up promotions for retailers and manufacturers.
In its infancy, ecoATM was supported by EvoNexus, the incubator for early-stage high-tech companies begun by San Diego's high tech industry group, CommNexus. Since then, ecoATM has been recognized by Popular Science, International Electronics Recycling Conference & Expo (IERCE), Green:Net, CES Innovations, and others. (http://www.ecoatm.com/about-awards.htm)
Media contact: Anita Giani, 650.743.0870