CA1218439A - Self-contained cassette vending machine - Google Patents

Self-contained cassette vending machine

Info

Publication number
CA1218439A
CA1218439A CA000441125A CA441125A CA1218439A CA 1218439 A CA1218439 A CA 1218439A CA 000441125 A CA000441125 A CA 000441125A CA 441125 A CA441125 A CA 441125A CA 1218439 A CA1218439 A CA 1218439A
Authority
CA
Canada
Prior art keywords
means
article
vending machine
adapted
customer
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Expired
Application number
CA000441125A
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Robert J. Spooner
William W. Jacobus
Robert J. Randall
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
ESSEX ENGINEERING Co
Original Assignee
ESSEX ENGINEERING COMPANY
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US51538083A priority Critical
Priority to US515,380 priority
Application filed by ESSEX ENGINEERING COMPANY filed Critical ESSEX ENGINEERING COMPANY
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of CA1218439A publication Critical patent/CA1218439A/en
Application status is Expired legal-status Critical

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F11/00Coin-freed apparatus for dispensing, or the like, discrete articles
    • G07F11/02Coin-freed apparatus for dispensing, or the like, discrete articles from non-movable magazines
    • G07F11/04Coin-freed apparatus for dispensing, or the like, discrete articles from non-movable magazines in which magazines the articles are stored one vertically above the other
    • G07F11/06Coin-freed apparatus for dispensing, or the like, discrete articles from non-movable magazines in which magazines the articles are stored one vertically above the other supported individually on pivotally-mounted flaps or shelves
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C9/00Individual entry or exit registers
    • G07C9/00007Access-control involving the use of a pass
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus
    • G07F7/06Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by returnable containers, i.e. reverse vending systems in which a user is rewarded for returning a container that serves as a token of value, e.g. bottles
    • G07F7/069Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by returnable containers, i.e. reverse vending systems in which a user is rewarded for returning a container that serves as a token of value, e.g. bottles by box-like containers, e.g. videocassettes, books
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus
    • G07F7/08Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus
    • G07F7/08Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means
    • G07F7/12Card verification
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F9/00Details other than those peculiar to special kinds or types of apparatus
    • G07F9/08Counting total of coins inserted

Abstract

ABSTRACT OF THE INVENTION

A vending machine is disclosed for dispensing and accepting relatively small boxed articles such as video cassette tapes and the like. The machine is provided with a slot for credit cards and is equipped to authenticate credit cards. Advantageously a processor unit controls all the function of the machine including a display monitor on which operating instructions are given to the customer. A memory unit is connected to the processing unit is used to store inventory and cost information. Each article positioned within the machine is identified by a code secured to the article.
This code is sensed by the machine when the article is returned through an appropriate slot. Therefore the customer can use a credit card to obtain a selected article from the machine. If he decides to rent the article for a preselected period of time he may return it through the return slot. A hard copy of all the transactions is provided by a printer.

Description

This invention pertains to a self-contained vending machine adapted to disperse articles, more particularly video cassettes either as an outright sale or on a rental basis.

~ACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Vending machines for dispensing different articles for cash are well known in the art. However inventory control on these machines had to be done manually and there was no in-dication of lost sales other than an "empty" sign indication corresponding to a popular item.
The advent of high speed computer-assisted communi-cation devices brought in machines which were nothing more in reality but electronic extensions of centralized computers.
Through these terminals a customer is able to complete trans-actions such as ordering goods, or obtaining cash from a bank account by using a credit card or other similar identifying means. Such devices can be found in U.S. Patents Nos.
4,134,537, issued January 16, 1974 and 3,662,343, issued May 9, 1972. Devices which dispense articles instead of cash are described by U.S. Patent Nos. 4,120,452 issued October 17, 1978 and 4,300,040 issued November 10, 1981. However because all these devices are mere extensions of a central distribution, they are suitable only for a centralized operation requiring a large investment. Furthermore if the communication link between the terminal and the central computer is interrupted, 3g the terminal becomes useless.

OBJECTS OF THE I~ NTION

An Gbjective of the present invention is to provide a vending machine which can dispense independently articles such as video cassettes while providing inventory control.
A further objective is to provide a device which can be used for dispensing of said article independently on a rental basis.
Another objective is to provide a device which i6 easy to operate by the customer and the owner.
Other objectives and advantages shall be described in conjunction with the following description of the invention SUMM~RY OF THE INV~NTION

In accordance with this invention, an automatic vend-ing machine for video cassettes and similar articles comprises an enclosure: a plurality of holding means, each one adapted to hold one of said articles and to dispense said articles when a release command is received; a selecting means for selec~ing an article to be dispensed and control means connected to said selecting means and adapted to send said releasa command to the holding means associated with the selected article.

121~39 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGURE l shows a front view of the invention;
FIGURE 2 shows a sectional side view of the invention;
FIGURE 3 is a side view of the cassette release mechanism;
FIGUR~ 4 is a rear view of the mechanism of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 5 is a top view of the mechanism of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 6 is a partial sectional view of ~he cassette return mechanism:
FIGURE 7 is an interconnection diagram of the invention;
FIGURE 8 shows the decision flow chart for a normal cassette transaction; and FIGURES 9 and lO shows the decision flow chart for servicing the subject device.

A vending machine, in particular for video cassettes, according to this invention comprises an enclosure lO, as illustrated in FIGURE 1, which houses a storage means adapted to selectively dispense cassettes and a control means.
The various elements of the machine are best described in conjunction with its operation. All information from the machine is displayed on an electronic display unit 12. This ~21~439 display unit may be a 5" black and white CRT or any other similar device. In STANDBY mode this CRT displays a menu to the potential customer for selecting either the RENT or RETURN
mode. This selecting may be done by activating one or more keys in a preselected manner. Preferably a single selector keypad 14 i8 provided for use by the customer, having ten or more keys. A membrane-type keypad is particularly useful in this situation because such keypads are dust; water; and tamper-proof.
Once a customer selects the RENT mode he is instructed by the display means 12 to enter a code identifying the cassette he desires to rent. The present device can store either VHS or BETA format cassettes or both. The information on which format the customer needs is part of the code for a particular cassette.
The customer selects the correct code by consulting the master index 15 which is preferably displayed on the front of the vendor machine. Either the whole front of the machine may be used as an index, or only a portion of the front may be dedicated thereto, the rest being used for promotional materials.
After the customer enters the code of the desired cassette, a check is performed to see whether ~he desired cassette is in stock. If it is not then the customer is invited to make another choice. If the cassette is available the customer is instructed to insert a credit card or other 1~8~39 means of charging the customer for rendered goods and/or services into a slot 16. Behind the slot is a magnetic stripe card reader 16 of the type well-known in the art which reads the information magnetically stored on such cards as shown in FIGURE 7. The information gathered by the magnetic stripe reader is sent to a central processing unit 20. This unit is also connected to a driver 22 which acts as an interface between the central processing unit 20 and the digital display L~ unit 12. In fac~, the central processing unit ~i~ as a clearing house for all the information changes within the vendor. Naturally it also receives the information entered by keypad 14 by the customer, including the code number for the desired cassette and determines whether the desired cassette is in fact available. In all its functions, the central pro-cessing unit makes use of a memory unit 24 in which all the required information is stored in a non-volative fashion. Pre-ferably the me~ory unit comprises a magnetic disk and a compatible disk drive or a magnetic bubble memory.

Before the transaction continues, a check is performed on whether the credit card is acceptable. This is done by con-tacting a central information bank (not shown) where such datais electronically available. The contact can be made either through a modem 26 which transmits the identification number of the credit card, and if required, the amount of the trans-action, and receives a confirming message from the central line via a standard telephone company communication line 30. Alter-~.,'~1 13~39 natively a dedicated line 32 may be used through an interface unit 34, such as for example an RS 232C interface. It should be emphasized that except for this credit card checking feature, all other functions are performed internally within the vendor machine. Furthermore it is possible to operate the unit exclusively internally either by using a specialized credit care which could be used only for tape rental, or by storing in the memory a list of all the numbers of all the unacceptable credit cards, and by frequently updating the list. After the credit card is verified the central processing unit Zo activates an appropriate mechanical release mechanism such as a solenoid 36 to dispense the appropriate cassette.
This latter function is described in more detail further on in this disclosure.
The customer also receives a printout from printer 38 which identifies the location of the vendor machine, the tape dispensed and the terms of the rental, including the fees in-volved and the return dates. If the tape is not returned within a preset period of time, it is assumed that the customer wants to keep the tape and will be billed accordingly.
The video cassettes used in the vendor are preferably encoded by using an adhesive strip with a unique bar code.
Once an identifying strip is attached to a given cassette, the vendor machine keeps track of a given cassette through its code.
If a customer selects the RETURN mode for the machine, he is instructed to insert his credit card in slot 16 and to put the tape into a return slot 40. A bar code sensor 42 (see FIGURE 7) is used to sense the identifying code of the cassette. The code is decoded by a bar code reader 44 and sent to the central processing unit 20. The processing unit checks whether there is open transaction related to the cassette. If there is no record of such transaction the cassette is returned to the customer, and the customer is informed of this event.
If there is an open transaction, ie. the cassette has been rented from the subject vendor, the central processing unit calculates the rental charge, and issues an appropriate receipt through printer 38.
At preselected time intervals the vendor machine is put into a SERVICE mode by selecting the RETURN mode and in-secting a specially-coded service sard into card reader 16. In this mode the service person can accomplish the functions:

related to the day-to-day operation of the vendor related to net sales, inventory control, unfulfilled requests, open trans-actions, and net income. The service person can also add and delete cassettes from the active inventory. Advantageously, for this func~ion he can use the bar code sensor 40 and reader 42 to identify new or removed cassettes. Information requested by the service person is displayed by display unit 12, and a permanent record is made by printer 38.

A typical decision chart for implementing the RENT, and RETURN modes is shown on FIGURE 8. The decision chart for implementing the SERVICE mode is shown on FIGURE 9. The cen-~Z~8 ~39 tral processor unit 20 is programmed to perform the above-described functions in the manner illustrated in FIGURES 8 and 9. Of course the same functions could be performed by vacious other steps and decision charts well-known in the art.
The elemen~s of the invention described so far are off the shelf items available from a number of manufacturers. The following list is given as an example of parts that could be used in the present invention:

Video Monitor/ Motorola MD-1000-90 Display 12 Magnetic Stripe Vertel CR31 Card Reader 16 15 Central Processing Heurikon MLZ 92A
Unit 20 and Comark MTX 1632B
Video Monitor Matrox MTX 1632B
Driver 22 Storage Disk Shugart SA801 Drive 24 Modem 26 Advanced Micro 7910 Devices Trip Solenoids 36 Magnetec MC-34~-3533-01 Printer 38 Telpar PL20EX
Bar Code Sensor 42 Intermec 1301 Bar Code Reader 44 Intermec 9315 Of course one skilled in the art could easily sub-stitute equivalent parts.
The physical storage of the video cassettes may be done in a number of different ways. Preferably a rack ~6 as shown in FIGU~E 2 is provided inside enclosure lO. The rack comprises a plurality of ~iers each tier being adapted to hold several cassettes in a row. The rack may be made out of metal rods, or similar light materials. Each tier 48 is at an angle, as shown most clearly in FIGU~E 3 so that a cassette 50 resting thereon can slip off the tier and down into delivery chute 52.
The delivery chute can be reached through a swin~ing access door 54. The swinging door is hinged at the top at 56 and is preferably made of a plastic transparent material so that the customer can see that the cassette 50 has been delivered, as well as for aesthetic purposes.
The mechanism for releasing the cassette on command is illustrated in FIGURES 3, 4, and 5. It comprises a rod or similar rigid member 58 dispersed longitudinally underneath a member 60 of the rack 46. The cassette 50 is resting on the member 60. The rod is affixed rotatably to member 60 at points 62 and 6~ so that it can rotate around its own axis. The rod is terminated with a lower arm 66 and an upper arm 68 each arm being bent at approximately 90 with respect to the rod. The lower arm 66 normally extends beyond member 60 generally up-wards from rod 58 so that it forms the lowest rest point for the cassette 50. Thus, if the rod is rotated so that arm 66 moves away from the cassette, the cassette 50 is free to slip off from the rack 60.
Also on member 60, preferably above cassettee 50 is a solenoid 36, which is one of the central processor unit-8 ~39 activated solenoids shown in FIGURE 7. The solenoid is electrically connected to the central processor unit and has a plunger 70 which moves axially to the left in FIGURE 4 as the solenoid 36 i8 activated. The plunger is pivotally connected 5to upper arm 68 of rod 58. Therefore when the solenoid 36 is activated, plunger 70 moves right in the direction shown by the arrow in FIGURE 5, the rod 58 rotates clockwise, and the lower arm 66 moves downward accordingly releasing the cassette 50 associated with the solenoid. Thus the release of the cassette 10into the delivery chute 52 on command from the central pro-cessinq unit 20 is effectuated.
As shown in FIGURE 6, the return mechanism 40 (FIGURE
l) comprises a tray 70 pivotally mounted at its lower portion 72 to the front panel 74 of the vendor so that when it is 15closed, the front face 76 of the tray is flus-h with the front panel 74. At the top the front face 78 ends with fingergrip-type handle 78 which can be used to turn or pivot tray 70 in and out. Tray 70 is adapted to hold cassette 50 preferably on ~ its edge as shown in FIGURE 6. Instructions for inserting the 20cassette into the tray can be mounted on the insid~ ~,urface 80 of the front face 76 or adjacent to it.
As previously described each cassette 50 is provided with an identifying label 82 which is electrically or optically encoded to provide identifying information abou~ the respective 25cassette. After the cassette is inserted into the tray, the tray is pivoted back into the main body of the vendor. As the ~8~

tray is being pivoted, the label of the cassette passes by a code sensor such as a bar code sensor 42. As the tray reaches the flush position, the identifying code of the cassette is sent to the central processor 20. If the cassette matches an open transaction the central processor operates a release mechanism 84 which allows a rear portion 86 to swing back and release the cassette into a storage bin 88.
During servicing the operator gains access to the storage bin and removes the returned tapes. He may take them away or he may reload them together with new tapes into the vendor du~ing the vendor machine servicing routine. For example, if during seIvicing (see flow chart on FIGURES 9 and 10), the operator decides at decision block 4 to add new tapes to the machine's inventory he will be instructed to insert the first new tape into the return slot 40. The code of the tape is then read by code bar sensor 42 and reader 44 and this is transmitted to the central processor 20. The central pro-cessor, which keeps track of all the empty cassette loca~ions, enters the identification of the cassette, assigns an empty location to the cassette and instructs the operator to remove the tape from the the return slot and placed at the designated location. Now the operator is free to insert another new tape.
In summary, the vending machine has three modes of operations: RENT, RETURN and SERVICE. A potential customer initially has the option of selecting the RENT or RETURN
modes. In the RENT mode, on request from the central pro-~2~3439 cessor, the customer enters the identification nu~ber of the desired tape and its format (BETA or VHS). The processor checks its inventory ~o determine whether the desired tape is available. If the tape is available, the customer is requested to provide a credit card. After the credit card is validated a hard copy of the transaction is pLovided to the customer, and the appropriate solenoid is activated to cause the cassette to drop into the delivery chute.

If the RETURN mode is selected, the customer is requested to insert his credit card and the cassette into the respective slots. If the cassette is recognized as an open transaction ie. a cassette involved in a rental, ~he cassette is dropped into a storage bin, the rental charge is calculated, and a hard copy of the finalized transaction is provided to the customer. If the cassette is not recognized it is returned to the customer.
The SERVICE mode is initialiæed by an operator by first selecting the RETURN mode and then by inserting a special service card into the card reader. Once the special service card is recognized a special service menu is displayed on the display screen and the service operations involving sales in-formation, inventory control, rate changes, replacement of cassettes may be performed.

The subject vending machine was described in con-junction with the renting and/or sale of prerecorded videocassettes. However its obvious that it may be used for the 8 ~39 distribution of various other boxed articles with little or no modifications such as video games, computer software, paper-backs and blank tapes. FuLthermore numerous modifications could be made in the subject device by one skilled in the art without depar~ing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

Claims (21)

THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION IN WHICH AN EXCLUSIVE
PROPERTY OR PRIVILEGE IS CLAIMED ARE DEFINED AS FOLLOWS:
1. A vending machine for vending boxed articles com-prising:
an enclosure;
a plurality of holding means, each one adapted to hold one of said articles and to dispense said articles when a release command is received:
a selecting means for selecting an article to be dis-pensed; and control means connected to said selecting means and adapted to send said release command to the holding means associated with the selected article.
2. The vending machine of claim 1 further comprising means for accepting a customer identification means which identification means being provided to charge the customer for the selected article.
3. The vending machine of claim 2 further comprising means for authenticating said identification means.
4. The vending machine of claim 3 wherein said authenti-cating means comprises means for contacting a remote data bank said data bank containing data identifying unacceptable identification means.
5. The vending machine of claim 1 further comprising return means for accepting previously dispensed articles.
6. The vending machine of claim 5 wherein all articles held and dispensed by said machine carry an identifying code, and wherein said return means comprises means for recognizing a returned article by its identifying code.
7. The vending machine of claim 1 wherein each one of said holding means comprises a solenoid adapted to release the article associated with its holding means when it receives said release command.
8. The vending machine of claim 7 wherein each one of said holding means comprises a tilted rack on which the respective article is disposed, and a rod having a first end engaging said article and a second end is adapted to be pivoted by said solenoid around said rod.
9. The vending machine of claim 8 wherein said rod is rotatably secured to said rack, and said first end disengages from said article when said second end is pivoted by said sole-noid, whereby the article slips off from said rack.
10. A vending machine for dispensing boxed articles comprising:

a processing unit;
a display means operatively controlled by said pro cessing unit;
data entry means for entering information regarding a selected article to be dispensed, said processing unit being adapted to check whether said selected article is available;
customer identification means for identifying the customer requesting an article; and dispensing means controlled by said processing unit and adapted to dispense the article selected by the customer.
11. The vending machine of claim 10 wherein said pro-cessing unit is adapted to display operating instruction on said display means.
12. The vending machine of claim 10 wherein said pro-cessing unit comprises arithmetic manipulation means and memory means for storing information regarding articles currently available in the machine and their cost.
13. The vending machine of claim 12 wherein said pro-cessing unit is adapted to calculate the cost of buying or renting each article and to display said cost for a selected article on said display means.
14. The vending machine of claim 13 further comprising printing means for printing the cost for the selected article.
15. The vending machine of claim 11 further comprising authentication means for authenticating said customer identification means.
16. The vending machine of claim 15 wherein said authenti-cation means comprises means for contacting a remote data bank adapted to identify invalid customer identification means.
17. The vending machine of claim 11 wherein each article disposed and dispensed by said vending article is identified by a code secured to said article, and said processing unit is adapted to keep track of each article through said code.
18. The vending machine of claim 17 further comprising a return slot for accepting returned articles.
19. The vending machine of claim 18 wherein said return slot comprises means for sensing the code of the returned article, said sensing means being adapted to transmit said code to the processing unit.
20. A vending machine comprising:
means for holding articles disposed therein;

means for accepting an order from a customer for a selected article means for identifying the customer;
means for identifying the selected articles as one of the articles disposed on said holding means; and means for dispensing the selected article.
21. The vending machine of claim 20 further comprising means for accepting article whereby said vending machine is adapted for renting the article contained therein.
CA000441125A 1983-07-18 1983-11-14 Self-contained cassette vending machine Expired CA1218439A (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US51538083A true 1983-07-18 1983-07-18
US515,380 1983-07-18

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
CA1218439A true CA1218439A (en) 1987-02-24

Family

ID=24051108

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
CA000441125A Expired CA1218439A (en) 1983-07-18 1983-11-14 Self-contained cassette vending machine

Country Status (5)

Country Link
AU (1) AU3051584A (en)
CA (1) CA1218439A (en)
DE (1) DE3405042A1 (en)
GB (1) GB2143662B (en)
ZA (1) ZA8405463B (en)

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US8768789B2 (en) 2012-03-07 2014-07-01 Redbox Automated Retail, Llc System and method for optimizing utilization of inventory space for dispensable articles
US8712872B2 (en) 2012-03-07 2014-04-29 Redbox Automated Retail, Llc System and method for optimizing utilization of inventory space for dispensable articles
US8799111B2 (en) 2012-05-04 2014-08-05 Nintendo Of America Inc. Systems and/or methods for selling non-inventory items at point-of-sale (POS) locations
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CA1218439A1 (en)
GB2143662B (en) 1986-10-22
GB8330602D0 (en) 1983-12-21
ZA8405463B (en) 1985-05-29
DE3405042A1 (en) 1985-01-31
AU3051584A (en) 1985-01-24
GB2143662A (en) 1985-02-13

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