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Credit card storage system

Info

Publication number
CA1327240C
CA1327240C CA 608320 CA608320A CA1327240C CA 1327240 C CA1327240 C CA 1327240C CA 608320 CA608320 CA 608320 CA 608320 A CA608320 A CA 608320A CA 1327240 C CA1327240 C CA 1327240C
Authority
CA
Grant status
Grant
Patent type
Prior art keywords
card
step
host
computer
branch
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 - Fee Related
Application number
CA 608320
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Steven Leon Sunyich
Original Assignee
Steven Leon Sunyich
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
Grant date

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/0042Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for hiring of objects
    • 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
    • G07C9/00103Access-control involving the use of a pass with central registration and control, e.g. for swimming pools or hotel-rooms, generally in combination with a pass-dispensing system
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/10Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for means for safe-keeping of property, left temporarily, e.g. by fastening the property
    • G07F17/12Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for means for safe-keeping of property, left temporarily, e.g. by fastening the property comprising lockable containers, e.g. for accepting clothes to be cleaned
    • 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
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S283/00Printed matter
    • Y10S283/904Credit card

Abstract

Abstract A credit card operable storage system is provided. A plurality of credit card accessed and computer operated safes are communicatively linked to a respective branch computer, which is in turn communicatively linked to a central host computer (central host). The safe transmit use information (including credit card information) to their respective branch computers where the information is stored and periodically transmitted to the central host. The central host processes the use information into billing information which is electronically transmitted to a billing statement generating system.

Description

3272~
CREDIT CARD STORAGE SY~EM

Field: Th~ present invention is directed to a system providin~ a ~ecure conta~ner ~or the storage o~
ite~s, the use o which is billsd through a credit a~rd billing ~y~tem. I
S~a~ th~ ~rt: Credi~ cards ax8 widely used ~or the purchase o~ goods and services. ~rypically, pay-~ent with a cred~t card is handled by a ¢aæhier. How-ever, credit cards may also be used vith automatlc devi~es where ~o cashier is pre~ent. For exa~ple, cer tain gas pumps dispense gas automatically ~ased on the input of a credit card.

Summ~v Qf the ~nventiQ~
The present invention provides a cradit card operated storage system which compri~es a container for th~ storage of items and a door associated with the con- !
tainer. A lockiny mechanism is a~sociated with the door to selectively actuate between a locked position to ~ock the door in a clos~d position and an unlocked position to allow the door to open. A card-reader and a user input means are also associated with the container. A proces-sor i5 communicatively linked to the locking mechanism, the ~ard reader, and the user input mean~. The processor is programmed to rQceive card in~ormation from the card r~ader, to receive user input from the user input m~ans, to open ~he locking mechani~m based on appropriate card information and user input, to dev~lop use infor~ation, and to relay the use information to a ~illing development means. The hilling development means ls communicatively linXed to the processor and is adapted to receiv~ use in~ormation fr~m the processor and to develop billing information.

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In a preferred embodiment, ~he billing develop-ment means includes a branch computer communicatively linked to 4he proceseor. T~e branch computer is pro-grammed to receive use information ~rom the processor and to relay the use in~ormation to a c~ntral host computer.
A central host ~omputer tcen~ral host) is aommunicatively linked to the branch computer and i~ ~dapted to receiv~
the u~e in~ormation from the branch ~o~put~Qr and to dev-elop billing information.
In one embodiment, the branch compu~er is pro-gram~ed to ~tore use information to disk ~torage and to relay periodically the use information to the central host. In another preferred embodiment, the central host i6 proyrammed to relay the billin~ information in digital form or otherwise to a billing statement generating sys- -tem, such aa a credit card clearinghouæe.
Other em~odiments are those in which the pro-cessor is programmed to receive and store the user-selected combination to open the safe, the combination being entered in at the user input means. The processor may be programmed to communicate with the ~ranch computer through telephone communication means, e.gO telephone lines, satellites, etc. or through coaxial cable TV
lines. Also, the branch computer may be programmed to communicate with the central ho~t through telephone com-munication means.
In another embodiment, the processor is adapted to be accessed and programmed from the central host.
Another embodiment includes ~ user ~eedback device, such as a visual display or voice generating system (such as a voice synthesizer) for providing selected mes~ages (such as advertising ~essages) to a u er. The proces~or may be programmed so that these messag~s ar~ stored and 80 that messages may be received from the branch computer or from the central host. In other words, the messages may be changed directly from the central host or from a branrh '~

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_ 3 ~ 32~

co~puter.
In another embodiment, the invention provides a method o~ prov~ding a credit card operated ~afe. Thi~
method inaludes providing a saf~ with an associated lock-ing mechanlsm, a card reader, a u~er input d~vice, and a programmable processor, which is communicatively linked to the locking mechanism, the card readQr, and the user input device. The method ~ur~her inaludes progra~ming the proces60r to receive ~ard informa~ion ~rom the card I -read~r, to receive user input from th user input device and to open the s~fe based on appropriate card infor-mation and u~er i~put.

~
Fig. 1 is a bloak diagram o~ a credit card safe system of the invcntion;
Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a sa~e of the inven~ion;
Fig. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a safe of the invention;
Fig. 4 is a block diagram of the system config-uration of a processor of the invention;
Fig. 5 is a flowchart of a computer program used to operate a processor o~ the invention;
Fig. 6 is a flowchart of a computer program used to operate a branch computer of the invention;
Fig. 7 i~ a flswchart o~ a receive-data mode of a central host of the invention; and Fig. 8 is a flowchart of a data processing mode of a central host of the invention.

Detalled Desc~iption of the Illus~.ated Embodiment The preferred embodiment of a safe system o~ the present invention is designed to be used in hotels or mo-tels, one sa~e being placed in each room. IIowever, the 40 system descrihed may also be used in other environments ;
, . , ,., . ~ . .

~ 4 ~ ~ 32 72 ~ ~
such as ai~port~ or ski resort~, etc.
A user fir~t obtains acce~s to the safe by run-ning a credit card ~hrough a m~gne~ic card reader as~o-ciated with ~he safe. ~he u~r then program~ a com~in-ation, which the user ~elects, into the sa~e. ~he usercan then open the 6a~e whenever he need~ t~ with his user-sel~cted combination~ U~e of the sage is charged on a per diem ba s; the user is billed on his credit card billing statement.
lo In the preferred embodiment, each sa~e has a modem and is oommunicatively linked through the phone limes to a branch computer which is located somewhere in t~ hotel. ~ach safe transmits use in~ormation to the branch computer, and the branch computer stores t~is use in~ormation. Use infoxmakion inaludes credit card in~or-mation including per~onal identifying in~ormation about the user~ and the time period for which the safe was used.
Each branch compute~ (one per hotel) has a modem by which it communicates with the central host system once each day and transmits to the central host the use information it has received from each o~ the safes in i~s respective hot~l during the previous 24 hour period. The central host th~n processes this use information to develop billing information~ The billing information include~ the information necessary to develop billing statement to be ~ent to the user. The central host then transmits the billing info~mation directly to a compa~y or ~ystem, such as a credit card clearinghouse, which then processe~ the in~ormation and sends out billing statements. Pre~erably, the central host transmits the billing in~or~ation electronically in digital form to the credit card clearinghouse, avoiding the inconvenience and potential errors in paper tran~mis~ion.
Referring to Fig. 1, ~a~ic components of the pre~erred embodiment of the invention are a plurality of ;
;
.
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13~72~0 sa~es 20, a plurality of branch computer~ 22, and a cen-tral ho~t 24. Each safe 20 i~ aommunlcatively linked with a branch aomputer 22 by mean~ of phone line~ 26.
Typically, one branch computer i~ loca~ed in each hotel.
Each sa~e 20 includes ~ modem by which it communicates with a ~ranch computer 22. ~ypically, the phone system in the hotel will be a private branch exchan~e tPBX)4 The branch compu~er 22 al50 haa a modem ~y which it com municates with the central ho~t ~4 through phone lines 1~ 28.
The branch computer 22 is pro~r2mmed to initiate contact with the central host 24 every twenty-four hours to relay to the central host 24 the use information it ha~ received from its associated safes during the past twenty-four hour period. The central host 24 processes the use in~ormation it has r~ceived from the branch com-puters 22 to develop billing in~ormation. The central host 24 electronically transmits billing information in digita~ format to a credit card clearinghouse 30 through phone lines 32.
The physical structure of safe 20 is now des-cribed in reference to Fig. 2. Safe 20 includes a secure container 50 to which door 52 is hingingly attached at hinges 54 and 56. Container 50 and door 52 are prefer-ably formed of steel and are cons~ructed in a well-known manner to constitute a secure safe for the storage of valuable items. Attached to the inside of door 52 is a locking ~echanism 58. Locking mechanism 58 preferably include~ a motor 60 having a rotating shaft 62. Shaft 62 is associated b~ means of a screw drive to a bolt 64.
Motor 60 is bi-dir ctional so that it may turn in one direction to make bolt 64 extend out o~ face 66 of door 52 or to rotate in the opposite direc~ion to retract bolt 64 back to it~ flu~h position with face 66 as shown in Fig. 3. Locking mechanism 58 may al~o be a ~olenoid, however, motor driven locking mechanisms are pre~erred a~

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being more reliable and secure. With the door in its closed position, bolt 64 may be extended by motor 60 into latch 68 (6hown in phan~om) firmly secured to inside panel 70 of container 50.
Control o~ locking mechanism 5B is regulated hy a processor 72, attach~d to the inte~ior o~ ~oor 52.
Proces~or 72 i5 the ~'brain" of the ~afe 20 and per~or~s several ~unotions relatin~ to the operation and use of safe 20. It is no~ nece~sary that the prooessor ~e phy-sically conneated to the safe. For example, in an alter-naki~e embodiment, the processor may be coterminous with the branch computer, with only the eleetronic "haxdware"
~such as the card reader, locking meahanism, visual dis-play, etc.~ being physically connected to the cafe~ How-ever, physically locating the processor i~ or with the safe is deemed to be advantageous. One advantage is that no ~pecial wiring need be made between the ~afe and the bran~h computer or between the sa~e and the central com~
- puter: the sa~e accesses these other computers via ~xit-ing phone lines.
Attached ts thP ou~side of door 52 is a ~agnetic card reader 74, which r~ads credit cards and relays the in~ormation on the card to proce~sor 72. ~ light-amitting ~iode di~play 76 (not shown) is also attached to the out~ide o~ door 52 and linked with proce sor 72.
Display 7~ i~ typi~ally a 16-character, vacuum fluore~-cent, 7-axis di~play. Alterna~vely, di~play 76 may be ~dapted to d~splay characteirs and graphics, ~uch a~ a back-lit dot matr$x LCD graphic display, with, ~or QX- j ample, 40 cha~act~r~ on 4 line . Pro~eæsor 72 giv~
pro~pt~ or message6 to a uæer via d~splay 7~. Di~pla~ 7 therefora serve~ as a U88r ~eedbacX ~eaA~ or d~vicQ. An alphanumeric keypad 78 ~not shown) i~ also a~tached to th~ outside of door 52 ~nd linked with proGes~or 72, by whi~h a user may entar in~ormati~n to be relay2d to pro-cessor 72. ~eypad 78 therefore serve~ a~ a u~er input .:

, - 7 ~ ~ 3~
means or d~vice. Xeypad 78 1~ typically a 16-~ey, x-y matrix ke~pad.~
An magnetic d~tector door switch 80 is attached to the inside of door 52 a~ shown, and i8 electxonical}y linked to procQ~or 7a ~o indiaat~ to proc~sor 7~ when door 52 i~ closed. Magnetic door ~witch ~0 detects when door ~2 i~ closed by ~ensing ~he proximlty o~ a magnet 81 located in panel 70 as ~hown. A magnetic ~witch is dee~ed to be pre~erabl~ to a mechanical ~witch because a lo mechanical ~witch may be ~ccidentally actuated by a user.
power cable 8~ ~upplies power to proces~or 72. Pro-ce~sor 72 U69S DC power; there~ore, an ~C to DC converter 84 i~ connected to cable 82. Converter 84 connects to a standard AC ou~let. Processor 72, which include~ a 1~ modem, is communicatively linked to a branch computer by me~ns o~ phone line 86. Both power cable 8~ and phone line 86 pass through a hole in hinge 56, through the interior of door 52, and to processor 72.
Fig. 3 illustrates another embodiment of a safe of ~he invention. In the embodiment o~ Fig. 3 an in-safe proces or 88 is mounted within a secure cover 90 on top of container 92. Card reader 94, display 96, and keypad 98 are mounted on front face lO0 o~ cover 90. Display 96 is shown to be a graphics display.
In the embodiment of Fig. 3, a locking mechan-ism such a~ locking mechanism 58 in Fig. ~ is not used.
A sha~t 101 ~shown in phantom), such as a round, steel rod, is vertically and slidingly mounted in door lQ2 as shown. A spring 103 is moun~ed to shaft 101 and acts to urge 6haft 101 upward. When shaft 101 is urged upward to i~s highest position within do~r 102, ~he upper end of shaft lO1 is flush with the top of door 102, and the lower ~nd of ~haft lol is ~lush with the bottom of door 102. At this time, door 102 ~s free to open. A motor 104 i~ eleetronically ~inked to processor 88. Motor 104 has a rotating shaft 105 to which i5 connected a camming :. ' - 8 - ~ 3~7~ ~ ~

device lQ6. The camming device mechanlcally interacts with the top o~ shaft 101.
Processor 88 actuates ~otor 104 to rotate in one directlon to cause camming device 106 to urge ~haft 101 S downward. W~en shaft 101 i8 urged downward, it enters a latch 106A to cau~e door 102 to be in a locked position.
When proce~or 88 actuates motor 104 to ro1:ate i~ the opposite direc ion, camming device 106 allows sha~t 101 to be bia~ed upward by ~pring 103 so t~at ~he bottom of shaft 101 becomes flush with the boktom of door lQ2, allowing door 102 to open. Removing the locking mechan-ism, i.s., motor 104, from the door of the safe increases security by avoiding the pos~ibility tha~ the locking mechaniæ~ may be tampered with by, for example, drilling holss through d:oor lQ2.
In Fig. 2 an AC adaptor 84 is depicted for con-nection with the power supply of processor 72. However, rather than tapping th~ power of~ a 110-volt power 5Up- ' ply, the ~afe o~ Fig. 3 tap~ power from the telephone system. Hotel ~BX phone ~ystems typically run o~ a 50-volt power source. Therefore, a small amount o~ current, in th~ neighborhood of 10-20 milliamps, may typically be tappe~ of~. In ~ig. 3, a DC to DC converter 107 is attached to line 108 (which is typically ~he ho~el PBX
phone line) and charges a battery 109, serving as a back- .
up power supply ~or the system. In a total power ~ail-ure, the ~y~tem continues to operate in a minimal p~wer drain mode in which ~h~ door may be opened and closed and in which other minimal ~unctions of opera~ion may con-3o tinue~ When the power is restored through ~he telephone line, the charglng system then recharges the batteries.
Typ~cally, nickel cadmium batteries are used. The embod-iment of ~ig. 2 may also include a charger and a backup battery power supply for operation o~ the sa~e during a power ~ailure.

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Alt~rnatively, line loa may be a coaxial video television ca~le. In~ormation i~ transmitted to the branch computer throu~h such a video cable, which is typically already installed i~ ~he hotel roo~. T~e video cable power supply is also an acceptabl~ source of cur-rent to power the sa~e.
Fig. 4 is the syætem ~onflgurat:io~ fox processor 72. The ma~ority of processor 72 is an liof~ th2 ~hel~"
pro~rammable credit card readcr, s~ecifically model C~T
95, available from OMRON, Inc. of Japan (U.S. headguar-ter~ in Chicago, Illinois). The item~ to ~he left of dotted line 110 in Fig. 5 are the system configuration ~or the CAT g5. The CAT 95 (enumerated 111 in Fig. 4 includes processing hardware and various other hardware items such as a visual display, keypad, modem, and a magnetic card reader, etc., a6 descri~ed herea~terO
Component~ of the proceæsor 72 to the right of dotted line 110 may be referred to as a bolt board 113. Bolt board 113 i8 a component constructed to associate the CAT
95 with the locking mechanism 52 to ~xtend or retract ~olt 64.
Tbe heart of the processor ~s the central pro-: cessing unit ~CPU) 112 which is a HD6301X0 chip. cPu 112 is in communication with a 32 kilobyte read only ~emory (RO~) 114 and with an 8 kilobyte random access memory (RAN~ 116. ROM 114 is an erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM). ~AM 116 is adapted for memory storag~
The CPU, ROM and RAM communicate and a~sociate with each okher in a manner which is well known in the art. Also associated with CPU ~12 is a alock ~1~, whiah emi~s os-cillations at 4.9152 megahert~. CPU 112 interface~ with clock 118 in a ~anner which is well known in the art for various time dependen~ function~.
CPU 112 is also linked with ligh~ emitting divde dieplay 76. CPU 112 associates with and give~3 commands to the display 76 in a manner which ~s well known in the . ~ :

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13272~0 art. Al~o linked to the CPU 112 i6 keypad 78. Through keypad 78 a user can input data such a~ a u~er-selected safe combination, subseguent input o~ the ~ame co~bina tion for opening the safe, r~ponse ~o prompts given, and certain programming instructions, etc.
Also linked to th~ CP~ is an input/output (I/0) expander 1~4. I/0 expand~r 124 allows CPU 112 to com-municate with other elements o~ the proclessor in a manner which is well known in the art. I/0 expander 124 i~
linked to a dual tone multiple ~requency oscillator (DTNF
OSC) 126 which produces the var~ous tones nece sary to connect with other computer~ through th~ phone lines.
DTMF OSC 126 is linked to a olock 128, which generates oscillation at a freguency o~ 3.57g545 megahertz. The DTMF OSC uses the frequencies emitted by cloak 128 to generate the dial tones.
I/0 expander 124 is also linked to a modem 126.
Mod~m 12~ i~ linke~ to clock 128 and DTMF OSC 126. Mo~em 126 is used to communicate with other computers ~hrough line interface 129 and line 130, whiah ~s connected to the phone line~. A switch~ng be~ween DTN~ OSC 126 and the modem 126 is accomplished by mean~ of relay 132. CPU
112, D~ OSC 126, relay 132, and ~odem ~26 associate in :
a manner well ~nown ~n the art to r~lay and receive in-~ormation to and ~ro~ other co~puter~.
When locki~ me~hanie~ 58 is to be actuated to either extend or ratract bolt 64~ a ~gnal i~ sent ~rom CPU 112 through I/0 expander 124 via ~ 140 to bolt board 1~3. In the CAT 95 ~ ), a bu~zer is removed ~rorQ
line 140 and line 140 is connectad appropriately to bolt board 113. The centr~l element o~ bolt board 113 1 a PAL 1686 chip 144. PAL chip 1~4 1~ connected to d~or switch 80 so as to not extend bolt 6~ unl~ door 52 i~
GlC)8~ .
~he program ~or control o~ proce~or ?2 is pro-gram~d into a ROM 114 by meanB o~ a I~EPROM burn~r.~ A

I

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327~2~ ;
description o~ the program "burned'~ into EPROM 114 is made in re~erenc~ to Fig. 5, which 1~ a flow chart of the program. A de~cription o~ the exact communication between CPU 112, ~PRQM 114, RAM 116, clock 118, display 120, keypad 122, I/O expander 124, magnetic card reader 125, and other componants o~ processor 7a are not explic-itly described. Only the program will be discussed; the progr~m or "software" functions w~th ~he "hardware" in a manner which is well known in the art.
At step 150, ~he display ~20 and card reader 125 are activated and keypad 122 is disabled. At this time, the program is in it~ '~insert card mode." If a person, I
for example, a child, were to touch button~ on keypad 78, no response would ~e given~ Step 150 executes display (on display 76) of Message One, which includes an enti.ce-ment to use the sa~e and statement of the daily rate ~or such usage. Messag~s, such as Message One, are stored in RAM 116. Step 152 executes a delay of a preselected lx number o~ seconds (the number corresponding to x also being stored in RAM 116). ~he program then runs test 154 to aæk whether there is any card activity at magnetic card reader 74. If there is no card acti~i~y at card reader 74, step 156 executes display of Me~sa~e Two, which is a me~sage to the user to insert his credit card.
Step 156 then executes a delay of 3x numbexs of seconds.
Dur~ng this 3x delay, at test 160, the program awaits any card activity. If again there is no card activity, step 1~2 ~xecutes the display o~ Message Three, whi~h is an optional message~ such as an advertising message selected by the hot~l. Advertising mes~ages may include, ~or e~ample, ad~er~isemen~s of activities in the ho~el lobby or "specials" at the hotel re6taurant. Step 164 then executes a delay of lx seco~ds, ~uring which the program looks or card activity at test 166, I~ again there is no card activity, the program loops back to step 150 to again di3play Message One.

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If there iB any card activity at steps lS~, 16 or 166, step 1~8 executes a read card command which allows information to be read from the user's credit card at magne~ic card reader 74. The program then exQaute a MOD 10 te~t 170, which i~ a standard t~t to determine if the card i~ a standard American Banking Association (ABA) type card. I~ the ~OD lO te~t 170 is n0gati~e, i.eO, if the in~ormation from th~ cr~dit card i~ incomplete, step 172 executes a display of ~e~æage Four, which is that lo there is a card error. Step 174 then executes a lx second delay. ~he program ~hen returns to 6kep 150 to display Message Ona.
If the MOD lO check i~ positive, the program executes a range check teat 176 to de~ermine if the num-ber on the credi~ card is within the range which the ~afewi11 accept. A rang~ of acceptable cradit card numbers is stored in R~M 116~ One range o~ possible card numbers includes the range of credit cards which the hotel or the central host operators have de~ermined are ~rom relia~le 2~ cxedit card companies. Another number i~ reserved for a "courtesy card,-l given to hotel management when it i5 desired that use o~ the safe not be billed. The courtesy card may be used, ~or example, with persons who do not have a credit card. I~ range check 176 is negative, the program l~ops to step 172 to display Message Four (c~rd error). If range check 176 i8 positive, step 178 exe-cutes a prompt at display 120 to ask the user whether he desires însurance. Th~ user'~ respon~e i5 khen stored.
Step 180 then establi~he~ communication with the branch computer to a~ the ~ranch computer whether the card i~ 0.~. Te~t 182 is activat~d by the response from the branch computer whether or not the c~rd is O.K. If test 1~2 is negative, step 1~4 executes d~splay of Mes-sage Fi~e, which i8 a message to the u~er that the card which has been used is not good, and that it will not be accepted. Step 1~6 executes a delay of lx seconds. The , '' :. ............................................ .
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program then loops back to command 150, If test 182 is posi~ive, step 184 executes dis-play of Message Six, which i~ a me~age to the user to select a combin2tion. At step 186, the user ~elects a combinatlon and keys this combination into keypad 780 The selected combination is stored in RAM 116. Step 188 then ex~cutes display of Message S~ven, whioh is an in-struction to ~he user to close the door on the safe.
The program then run~ test 19~, based on data it lo receives from switch 80 whether or not th~ door has been closed. If the door i8 not closed the program loops back to step 188 ~o again display Message Seven. If test 19 : is positive, step 192 executes a command to PAL chip 144 to extend bolt 64 60 as to lock door 52 shut when PAL
chip 14~ recognizes that the door is closed, based on information from the door switch 80. Step 194 then exe-cutes display o$ Message Eight~ which i8 that the safe is now'in u~e. The program is then in its "in use mode"
during which a user may access and open the sa~e by entry : 20 of the previously sele~-ted and stored combination.
Step 196 then executes a delay of lx seconds.
Test 198 or 200 may then be activated from e~ther card ; reader 74 or keypad 78, respectively. If there is activ~
ity at card reader 74, teat 198 will be posit~e. If : :
~here is keypad activity before card activity, ~est 198 is negative and test 200 will be positive. If there is neither card activity nor keypad activity, both te~ts 198 and 200 are negat~ve, and the program loops to step 202, to display Ne~age Nine. ~es~ag2 Nin~ is optional and :: 30 may be the sa~Q as Nes~age Three, e.g., relating to ad-vertiseme~ts the hotel chooses. ~fter ~essage Nin~, step 204 executes a lx second delay~ ~he program then loops baeX to ~tep lg4.
: I~ a~ter step 196 a oard i~ detected at test 198, 5tep 20~ executes reading of the card. Test 208 then oom~are~ the information from the card against data .
' ` ' ,'' .

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- 14 - ~327~40 stored in RAM 116 as ~o whether or not the card 1~ an override card. An overr~de card is provided to the hotel management to be used in the even~ a user (guest) forgets his self-selected com~ination. The use of such an over-ride card i~ described hereafter~ The nu~ber of the overrids card i8 stor~d in gA~ 116. I~ test 208 is nega- i tive, the program loops back to test 198 to await for card activity or kay pad activity as described above.
If test 208 is po~itive, in other words, if the car~ is a valid ov~rride card, step 21Q produces a mss-sage at di~play 76 for the user to ~n~er a security pass code. Step 212 then executeæ communication with the cantral host. The proqram communicates the T~D number (terminal identificakion number), a log~on code, the override card number, and entered pass code~ ~est 214 asks the central host i~ th~ override aard and the pass code are valid. If the ov~rride card is not valid, the central host sends back an invalid card me~sage. Test 214 will therefore be negative, and the program executes display of the message "invalid cod~." The program then returns to st~p 194 ("in u~e" mode). I~ the override card is valid but the pass code is incorrect at test 214, the central host sends an invalid code ~ignal. ~he pro- I
gram then displays a message "invalid code'~ and loops back to step 194.
I~ test 214 is positive~ i.e., i~ both the over-ride oard and the pa~s code are correct, at step ~16 the central host sends back to the safe a secret unique cods.
The program then runs test 216 to see if that i8 ~he correct unique code stored in ~OM ~14. If it is, step 218 executes rstraction o~ bolt 64 and a display of the message "open door." Step 219 execute6 a prompt at dis- ;
play 76 to ask whe~her the use of the override card will be billed. The hotel personnel using the override re-sponds to the guestion at keypad 78, and the response is stored in m~mory. I~ test 217 is negative, in other ~`327~

word~ the unique code received ~rom the cen~ral host i incorrect, the program loop~ bacX to e~ep 194 ("in use" mode).
Re~erring now again to te~t 200, i~ te t 200 is positive, in other words, if the keypa~ 122 is u~ed, step 220 ~ets a counter equal to ~ero. At etep ~22 the com-bination ls received from the keypad. Te~ 224 asks whether the co~bl~ation is valid, in other words, whether the co~bination i6 the 6ame as that ~elec:t~d in tep 186.
CPU 112 compare6 the entered combi~ation ~entered at keypad 78) with the u~er-~elected combination previously stored in RA~ 116.
I~ test 224 ~s positive, in other words, i~ the valid combina~ion has been ent~red, step 226 executes a me~sage on display 120 to ask the user if this is his last use o~ the safe. If te~t 226 i8 negative, in other wordY, if the u~er inputs an "N" for no, step 228 exe~
cutes retraction o~ bolt ~4. The program then loop~ back via,a path 230 to step 188 to again execute display of Message Seven, which is the message tQ close the door.
I~ test 226 is positive, in other words, if the user lnputs a "Y" ~or yes to answer the guestion whether it is the last use, step 232 executes communication with the branah computer. The TID number, the log-on code, the combination used, and an "E" mes~age for ending is then transmitt~d to the branch c~mputer. StQp 234 then execute~ openin~ of lockin~ mechanism 58 and the display of a message to open the ~afe. The program then returns via path 236 to step 150. At step 150, the program is ~gain in its "insert card mode."
If test 224 is neyative, in other words, i~ an ~nvalid code is entered~ step 238 adds one to the coun-ter. Test 240 ~hen as~ if ~e counter now ~otals three.
If this has been the first lnvalid combination, the coun-ter will only read one, and therefore the response totest 240 will be negative. Step 242 then exaeutes dis-'~

.

13~72~0 play of Message Eleven, which is to reenter the combin-ation. Step 244 then executes a delay of lx seconds.
The program then loope back again to s~ep 222 (input combo) and then to ~est 224, to again test as to whether ~he combination is valid. I~ the com~ination is valid, the progra~ moves to t~st 226 as previously des-cribed. If the aombination is again invalid, the counter is again incre~sed by one at ~t~p 238. Test 240 again asks if the counter eguals three. This time the counter will be equal to two, and ~ererore test 2~0 Will again be negative. Th~ program then loops back through steps 242, 244, and 222, to again alIow the user to enter a co~bination. I~ an invalid combination is again entered, test 224 will be negative, stQp 238 Will add one to the aounter, the counter Will equal three, and test 240 will this time be po~itive.
If test 240 is positive, step 246 executes dis-. . play of Me~sage-Ten, which is that ~he User must wait 15 . minutês to:try ag~n~ ~tep 2~8 ~rèatë~ a d~iay of l5 minutes. ThQ program then returns via path 250 through step 202, ~04 and again to step 194.
A dialing sequence referred ~o as a ~'check-in seguence't is now described. ~aah sa~e ~s programmed to check in With its respectiVe branch computer periodi-cally, regardless of sa~e usage. The safes may also ba programmed to check in direatly with the central hQst.
~ach safe ls set to dial out at a speai~ic time in the ~ame way each branch aompu~er i~ ~et to call the central host periodically, as-descri~ed hereinafter. When the sa~e establi~hes contact with the branch computsr, the ~afe transmit~ its ~ID number and a mes6age as to whe~her the safe i~ in use. If in use, the sa~e sends a ~IU.'l If ~he safe is not in u~e, lt ~ends a IIN.I' T~ computex acknowledge~ that it has received the me~sage and sends any new adverti~ing instructions or new commands to th~
sa~e ko be stored in RAM 116.

, - 17 - ~27~a A description of the program used in ~he local host or in-hotel host computer tbranch computer) 22 is made in re~erence to Fig. 6. Fir~t, at step 260, the program se~s up ~he baud rate, w~ich d~termines the com-munication rate with the saf~s and t~e central host. ~he baud rate i~ variable. ~t step 262, the program is in tha "looking for a ring/conne t/mo carrier (~/C/N) 1I mode in which it is looking ~or a ring to com~ in ~rom one of the safes in the hotel. The looking for R~C~N mode is a lo standard modem function. If test 264 is pos~tive, in . , other words, lf a rin~ iB received, step 266 executes connection with the calling computer with a modem in the branch computer.
After the connection at step 266, test 268 de-termines whether or not the inco~in~ call is ~rom one of the safes~ Test 268 is ba~ed on ~ID numbers transmitted I ' from the safes or the central host. If test 268 is posi-. tive, in other word3, i~ the inco~ing call is from.a ~ safe, step 2.70 re~eives a lo~-on code fro~, the safe. ~T~e.
ZO program th~n runs test 2i2 to aak it~ël~ i~ th~ log-on code is correct. I~ the log-on cod~ is incorrect, te~t 272 is negative, and the program loops back to step 262, looklng for R/C/N. If te~t 272 is po itive, Btep 276 execute~ reception o~ the data string from the safe.
The program th~n runs tes~ 278, which is a long~-itudinal redundancy check (~RC~ to determ$ne i~ the data string ha~ been properly transmi~ted. LRC check 278 test~ if the 8um of the digit~ in ~ha data string e~uals a sum number transmitted by the ~afe at the end of the data string. I~ ~he da~a string doesn't ha~e longi-tudinal redundancyl the program will send an LRC "not OK"
message back to the sa~e. The sa~e will try ~ix times to trans~it ~he data string. I~ the ~a~e has not co~muni-ca~ed tha~ information correctly af~er six times, LRC
check 278 i8 negative, and the progra~ loop~ back to step 262. The sa~e then disconnects and sets it6elf to redial : .. ' ': , ' .~ .

~72~ ~

and resend the in~ormatlon.
If hRC check ~78 is positive, the program pro-ceed~ to ~tep 280, in which the incoming data from the safe is written into the primary disk. The program ry-cles through steps 276 to 282 until all data is received.
At step 282, the data i~ writt~n onto a backup disc drive. Step 28~ executes output o~ a ~+~ which discon-nect~ the system from line. The program the~ loops back to R/C/N, st~p 262.
Returning now to th~ le~t branch o~ the program of ~ig. 6, if after ~tep 2~2, tes~ 264 is negative, in other word~, if no ring is rsceived, step 266 sets a one-minute delay. At test 268 the program asks it~elf if th~
system is within its preprogrammed "window.l' The window is the time d~ring which the branch computer is pro-grammed to dial up and transmit i~formation to the cen-tral host. If the branch computex is not wi~hin its ; window, the program r.eturns to step 262 an~ wai~s ~o~-anR~C~N to come ln from .e.~ther. a safe :or ~he c~n~ral host. , I~ tes~ 268 is po~itive, in other words, i~ the ~ystém is within its time window, tep 290 set~ the appropriate baud rate to transmit data to th~ central host.
Step 292 execute~ dialing to ~he central host~
Step 294 executes connec~ion with the central host and transmis~ion of the branch computer TID number. Step 296 tran~mits th~ log-on code.
~he progra~ then run~ test 298 to ask if the code i~ correct. If test 298 i~ negative, the program returns to step 262. Th~ program then ru~s through ~teps 264, 266, 268, 2~0, 292, 294, 296 an~ 298 again ~ach minute in an attempt ~o log on wi~h ~h~ central host.
Gen0rally, ~he branch computer has a 20-minut~ window auring which it attempts tc log on w$~h the ~entral ho~t.
I~ the te~t 298 is positive~ step 302 executes trans-missio~ of th~ data from th~ branch computer to the cen-tral hos~.

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~ 32724~

The program then executes step 304 --"reset charges 0 to 1, store 5 days." Each day as the safes call in and transfer data to th~ branch computer, the branch computer stores th~ information in a charges log.
The branch computer stores the informat~on in the 0 loy until the time it transmits tAe data to the centrA~ host.
After the ~ranch computer has transmitted the data to the c~ntral host and the central host has ac~nowledged re-ceipt of the information, the branch computer changes the lo charges 0 to charges 1, charge~ 1 to charges 2, charges 2 to charges 3, and so forth to charges 5. Withi~ the b~anch comp~ter there are five days worth of information ;
that are stored. Each new day the branch computer erases the last day and moves charges 4 to charges 5. I~ the central host were to lose communication with the branch computer for any reason, there.would be five days to solve whatever problem exist~ hefore information is lost.
Step 305 executes an ~pdate of the date ànd~tims:of th~
. branch ~omputer to be the same as tha date and time-of the central host. This correlation o~ date~ and times avoids errors that may arise due ~o differing time zones.
step 306 outputs ~+ which di~connects and hang~ up the lin~. The program then loops ~ack to step 262, looking : fo~ R/C/N-: 25 The branch on the right-hand side of the program - of Fig. 6 is now de~cribed. I~ test 268 i~ ~egati~e, in o~her word~, if the ring received by the hot~l system is not from a saf~, the program runs te~t 310 to ask whether the central host is ca~ling. The branch computer ~eter-mines whether it is a sa~e or the central host based on th~ TID number ~ent from the sa~e or the central host.
Test 310 looks for the TID number co~ing in from the central host. I~ thQ TI~ num~er ~s not received, test 310 is ne~ative and the progra~ loop~ back to step 262 If the TID number is received ~rom the central host, test 310 i~ positive and the lo~-on aode i~ received at step :, .. ..
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~3~7240 312. The ~ystem then runs test 31~ to ask if the log-on code is correct. IP test 314 i5 negative, the program loops back to step 262. If test 314 is positive, step 318 executes a log on with the central host.
Step 320 then sets a one-minute delay to allow the progra~ to stay on-line with the cent:ral host, while : a ~tep 322 is looking ~or a c~mand from the.central host. T~e delay at step 320 can be set at variable amounts, for example, ten or fifteen mintlt~s. Test 324 asks whether a command has baen receiYed from the central ho~t. At s~ep 324~ the branch ~ystem stay~ on line with the central host, and each minute~ it asks itself whether it is receiving any commands. I~ no command is received from the central host, the program loops back to step 322 ~o again look ~or a command. If test 324 is positive, in : o~her words, i~ a aommand is received from the central host:, the program will respond, dependlng on ~he command gi~en. ~h~.commands possible at ~ep 324 ar~ listed as follows~
D = ~a~e 1 - Time to call central .
host ~ = Time 2 = Primary call number V = Version of Program 3 - Second call number ~ = L~g of data 4 = PC call number F - Tran~fer files I - Hotel ID
Q = Quit ~ = Update X ~ ~rans~er to host W - Write to ~isk control of kerminal R - Rename logs G = Go execute back S Space available on disk file~
~ Thes~ commands are now d~scribed. ~hese com-i mand~ ~ay be typed in at the ~eypad of the central host.
If the comma~d i~ a '~D," ~h~ ~ran~h computer will s~nd a~ross-its current date. I~ the command is a IIT,Ir the branch co~puter wlll send ~he tim~ within the bran~h compu~er. The da~ and tim~ of th~ branch computer ar~
impor~ant because each transaction t~a~ takes place i~
time and date sensitive.

13272~1~

A "V" command prompts the branch computer to describe which version of the program is it currently using in the eYQnt that the branch computer n~eds to be updated. The "L" is a log count of the data. The branch computer xesponds with the numb~r o~ timec that the branch comput~r has received a call from the sa~e.
The "Fl' command iB for file t:ransPer and will prompt the branch computer to tran~mit ~11 of its data I : :
into the central hos~, not changing the charges one log, etc., but 8imply sending commands ~e changed. A "W"
command prompt~ ~he branch computer to write ~he new i~Pormation into the disk where it will be stored per-manentl~.
The "S" com~and prompt~ the branch computer to indicate whether there is space available on the branch computer disk. The "R" prompts the bra~ch computer to set the log count to zero. In other words, if the infor~
mation has already been transferred pursuant to an "F"
command, th~ "R" command allow~ the log count to be reset 2 0 so tAat the branch computer will not ~ran~mit the sam~ !
information again at th~ next window. A "~" command ac~
cesses the batch file, which is a file that may contain specific commands for the system and which can be changed at any time.
At StQp 326 the program waits ~or a IIQII command.
At test 328 if a 3'Q" command is not given, the program loop-~ ~a~k to test 324 to wait for another command. In other word6, a~t~r each command which is not a "Q~" the program loops back to step 324 to ask it~elf whether 3Q there is a com~and. The progra~ then runs through stepe : 326 and 328 again until a "Q" command i~ recognised at test 328. If a "Q" com~and is r~cogni8ed at t~t 328, step ~30 will output a +~, causing the syst~m to dis-aonnect from ~he central ho~t and loop back via path 332 ~o step ~62, looking tQ R~C/N.

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~ig. 7 is a flow chart of ~he program at the central host in its "receive data mode." rhe central host incorporates a standard PC board, minim4m 640 K RAM.
Typically, the system runs on one 3~ inch drive, one 5 inch driv~, and a 3 0 megabyte hard drive. The branch comput~r may ~ncorporate ~imllar hardware. The central host incorporate~ a ba~tery backup ~UPS) and a clock and calendar. I~ the power goes down on the system, the clock and calendar are able to reset th~mselves and reload the program. ~lso, each time a branch computer communicates uith the can~ral host, if the branch com-puter date i5 off or if the time is more than flve min-utes dif~erent from ~he central host, the branch computer does an automatic update to correlate wi~h the tim~r on 1~ t~e central host expander board. For example, if a branch computer's power has gone down, it will re~et itself to the most current time and date at the central host.
Similar to the branch computer, the central host first sets a baud rate at st~p 340, a~ter which it looks for an R/C/N at step 342. If at ~est 344 a ring is not detected, the program loops back to step 342 to a~ain look for an R/C/N. ~f a r~ng ls d~tected at te~t 344, s~ep 346 executes connection with the ealling computer.
The system ~hen run~ te~t 34~, based on the inco~ing TI~ number, to deter~ine wh~ther it i~ a branch computer that has ca~led. If test 3~8 i5 posi ive, in other ~ords ~f i~ i5 a branch computer which has call~d, 8~p 35V execute~ r~c~ption of ~he log on aode from the bra~ch computer. Th~ progr~m ~hen runs te~t 352 to ask i~ the log-on code i8 correc~ test 352 i~ nega~iv~;
the program loop~ back to step 3~2. If tep 342 is posi-tive, step 356 exe¢utes reception og the data ~rom the chargss log of the branch computer.
Step 358 thén cau~es th~ in~ormation to be writ-ten onto disc, whe~ it is written into the charg~s ~ata ;, ,,~
, , ,.... , . ~ . .. . .
'' ' "' ''' ' ' ' ' ~
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~ 3~72~

i ~ile of the c~ntral hos~. The program then runs test 360 to ask if an EOT (end og ~ransmis~ion) signal has been received. If test 360 is negative, the program loop~
back to step 356, and ano~her data ~tring i~ received and written to disk. If EOT te6t 3~0 i~ positive, stap 362 will execute output of +~ to disconnect from the branch co~puter. The program then loop~ back to s~ep 342 to again l ook f or an R/C/N .
Referrin~ now back to test 348, if test 348 is negative, in other word~ if the inco~inq call to the central host is not from a branch computer, the program will run test 363, based on the inaoming TID number, to determine whether the call is coming in from a safe. If teæt 368 i9 dnegative, the program loops back to ~tep 3~2 to look again for an R/C/N. I~ step 368 i~ positive, in other words if the incoming call i~ from a safe, step 370 executes reception o~ the log-on code~ The program then runs test 372 to ask if the log-on code i~ correct. A
ne~ative at test 372 loops the program to tep 34~. A
pos~itive respon~e at test 372 moves the program to s~ep 376.
Step 376 ~hecks to see if an override card has been ~ntered into the ~a~. S~ep 378 checks îf a ecur-ity cod~ has been received ~rom the safe. Test 3~0 asks whether both k~e override card and the security code entered in at the safe keypad are correct. If either the card or the security code i~ incorrect, ~tep 382 execute~
a message through th~ modem and hence to th~ ~afe di~play I "invalid ~ard" or "in~alid code," respectively.
I~ th~ correct override card and the correct pass code have been properly entered, te~t 380 will be poYitiv~ Step 382 then check~ the T~D number of the ~afe whic~ was sent acro~s a~ ~ep 36~ and ends out a unique ~a~ code ~o the sa~e whi¢h allow the safe to be opened. Step 384 ~xecutes output of *~ which disaon-; nects. The program then loops baak to step 342 to look ~: . :, .

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- 24 - 1 3 2 7 2 ~ o for an R/C/N, The data processing mode of the central host system i6 de~cribed in reference to Fig. 8, In func-tional block 400, the use infor~ation is stored in a branch computer. At ~unctional block 402, the raw data (u~e information) is tran~fQrred to the central host.
The activities of functional block 402 take place at steps 356, 358, and 360 o~ Fig. 7. At funational block 404, the raw data (use infor~ation) is stored in a "charges data" file at the entral host computer. This file functions in the same manner as the charges data file o the branch computer, except that at the central host, there are nin~ day~ worth of in~ormation stored.
This storage o~ information helps avoid problems that might d~velop, for ~xample, should the information be lost or destroyed during or after processing. At func-tional block 406, a h~rd copy of the use information is pr~nted from the charges data file.
At ~unctional b~ock 40~, a copy of the use in-~ormation is transferred fro~ the computer which hasreceived the information (a rece~ving computer) to a "process data" ~ile of another computer ~a processing comput~r). The information in the charges data fil~
could be proaes~ed in the receivin~ computer: however, a 25 comput~r program has been developed to allow the credit card billing information to be transmitted electronically to NDC, where credit card billing statements are gener-ated. Payment for u~e o~ the ~afe is handled between the credit card clearinghouse and th~ credit aard companies.
At step 416, the credit card clearinghouse is dial~d.
At step 418, the ingormation is electroniaally transferred in digital form through the phone systsm to the credit card clearing~ouse. Each individual' 8 use of a credit card afa is transferred individually as a sepa-rate ~ile or string o~ data. ~s each credit card ~ile istxans~erred, a draft captur~ taXes place. A dra~t cap-, .
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~32~2~0 ture i essentially an electronic recognition that a file has been received and that a billing will take place.
After an individual ~ile i~ transmitted, a long-itudinal redundanay test 420 is pe.rform~d. I~ test 420 is negative, the program return~ to block 418 where the ~ile is transferr~d again. If the hRC test is positive, in other words if th~ ~ile has longitudinal redundancy, the program perfo~ms test 422, in which the program asks itself i~ this is the l~st file to be transmitted. If this is the last file to be transmitted, at functional block 424 an end of transmissîon ~EOT) signal is trans-mitted to the credlt card clearinghouse, and the program returns to functional block 404.
If the last file test 422 i3 negative, the pro-gram tran~fers the next ~ile at block 426. ~he programthe~ per~orms LRC test 428 and then again per~orms a last ~ile test 430. The program thus continues to transmit each ~ile until a last ~ile test is positiv~, at which time the program loops to step 424 to send an EOT signal to the a~ntral host. The progra~ would then loop ~ack to step 404.
A~ter all of the lnformation is trans~erred, an au~horization nu~ber ~or the entire block of information that is tran~mitted i8 received. Any individual billing information sets that are not authorized are separated into a special ~ile to be resubm~tted at a later time or to be analyzed to see if some of th~ in~ormation is not correct.
The illustrated embodimen~ is dirQcted to a safe for storage of typically valuable or important items, such as money or important do~uments. However, the stor-age container may also be~ ~or exampl~, a re~rigerator for the secure storage of expensive beverages or food.
Alternatively, the "container" may be a larg~ structure such as a rental storage unit ~or long-term storage o~
ite~s.

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~ he lnvention provid~s an access and billing syst~m which may ba particularly advantageous ~or the rental o~ ho~el or ~o~el rooms. A credit card readex, user input means, and user ~eed~ack mean~ may be mounted on the outside of the room. A processor linked with a billing development means may be plac~d in each room.
-The us~r accesses the sys~em with his credit card and selects a desired comblnation, which functions as hi~ key ~o enter ~he room. T~e us~r iB billed for ~is lo use o~ the room on his credit card statementl The inven- ;
tion thus provides a system which eli~inates the need to have per onnel handle access to rooms. The system may be particularly convenient during late night or early even-in~ hour~ when it may be inef~ioient to have personnel on duty to handle ch~cking in of guests.
Similarly, rental of automobiles, boats, com-puters, or any other rentable item may be ~acilitated . with.:an.ac~es~ a~d billing system of the invention. A
proces~or may be mounted in the automo~ile or o~her item 20 to control access through a credit card a~d/or en~ry of a:
user selected combina~ion. With mobile devices, such as au~omobiles or boats, ~he processor may communicate wi~h a billing development means, for example, through elec-tromagne~ic radiation, suc~ as on a selected radio fre-quency.
Alternatively, a branch compu~er may ~e includedwith the rented item to s~ore use in~ormation which may then ~e downloaded at a l~ter time and translated into billing information by, for example, transmission of ~he use in~ormation to a central host. . .
~ he processor may also be programmed to charge the u~er on a mileage or hourly basis or some combi~ation of mileage, hourly, or per diem ba~is. The processor may also be programmed to charge for use o~ fuel. Proces~
35 ~ors, such as processor 72 or 88 may be programmed to engage various devices such as mechanical motors, sol~

- 27 - 1 3 2 7 2 ~ O

enoids, or elec~rical switche~.
The invsntion provi~es a sy~tem whicll may be used for pxoviding a w~de range o~ product~ or ~ervices~
For example, a b~ g generating system of the invention may b~3 linked with vending machine~ which dispense food or other consumer product~e, or with a ticketing machine which make~; reservations and disp~nses tickets for alr-line flight~ or train or ~U8 trip~.
Reference herein to details of the pre~erred e~nbodimerlt is not inten~d to limit the scope of the claims, which themselve~3 reaite features considared to be.
importar~t to the invantion.
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Claims (20)

1. A credit card operable storage system, comprising:
a secure container for storage of items;
a door associated with said container;
a locking mechanism associated with said door to selectively actuate between a locked position to lock said door in a closed position and an unlocked position to allow said door to open;
a card reader associated with said container;
a processor communicatively linked to said locking mechanism and aid card reader, said processor being programmed to receive card information from said card reader, to open said locking mechanism based on appropriate card information, to develop use information, and to relay said use information to a billing development means:
and a billing development means communicatively linked to said processor for receiving use information from said processor and for developing billing information.
2. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 1, wherein said container is a safe.
3. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 1, wherein said container is a refrigerator.
4. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 1, wherein said billing development means further comprises:
a branch computer communicatively linked to said processor, said branch computer being programmed to receive use information from said processor and to relay said use information to a central host system; and a central host system (central host) communicatively linked to said branch computer, said central host being adapted to receive aid use information from said branch computer, and to develop said billing information.
5. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 4 wherein said container is a safe.
6. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 4 wherein said container is a refrigerator.
7. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 4, wherein said branch computer is programmed to store said use information in memory and to periodically relay said use information to said central host.
8. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 4, wherein said central host is programmed to relay said billing information in digital form to a billing statement generating system.
9. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 1, further comprising a user input means associated with said container and communicatively linked with said processor for providing user input to said processor, wherein said processor is programmed to receive and store a user-selected combination entered in at said user input means, and wherein said processor is programmed to open said locking mechanism based on input of said user-selected combination at said user input means.
10. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 9, wherein said container is a safe.
11. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 10 wherein said safe is refrigerated.
12. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 9, wherein said container is a refrigerator.
13. A credit card operable storage system, comprising:
a secure container adapted for the storage of items;
a door associated with said container;
a locking mechanism associated with said door and adapted to actuate between a locked position to lock said door in a closed position and an unlocked position in which said door is free to open;
a card reader associated with said container and adapted to read card information from a credit card;
a processor associated with said container and communicatively linked to said locking mechanism and said card reader, said processor being programmed to receive card information from said card reader, to open said locking mechanism based on reception of appropriate card information, to develop use information, and to relay said use information to a branch computer;
a branch computer communicatively linked to said processor, said branch computer being programmed to receive and store use information from said processor and to periodically relay said use information to a central host computer; and a central host system (central host) communicatively linked to said branch computer, said central host being adapted to receive use information from said branch computer and to develop billing information based on said use information.
14. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 13, further comprising a user input means associated with said container and communicatively linked with said processor for providing user input to said processor, wherein said processor is programmed to receive and store a user-selected combination entered in at said user input means, and wherein said processor is programmed to open said locking mechanism based on input of said user-selected combination at said user input means.
15. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 14, wherein said container is a safe.
16. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 15, wherein said container is a refrigerator.
17. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 15, wherein said user input means is a keypad associated with said safe and electronically linked with said processor.
18. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 17, wherein said branch computer is programmed to store use information received from said processor and to periodically relay said use information to said central host.
19. A credit card operable storage system according to Claim 18, wherein said branch computer is programmed to initiate contact with said central host.
20. A credit card openable storage system according to Claim 19, wherein said central host is adapted to transmit said billing information electronically to a billing statement generating system.
CA 608320 1988-03-18 1989-08-14 Credit card storage system Expired - Fee Related CA1327240C (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US338,740 1989-04-17
US07338740 US4883948A (en) 1988-03-18 1989-04-17 Credit card storage system

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CA1327240C true CA1327240C (en) 1994-02-22

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CA 608320 Expired - Fee Related CA1327240C (en) 1988-03-18 1989-08-14 Credit card storage system

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US (1) US4883948A (en)
JP (1) JPH04504768A (en)
CA (1) CA1327240C (en)
DE (1) DE68921494D1 (en)
EP (1) EP0468961B1 (en)
WO (1) WO1990013080A1 (en)

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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
WO1990013080A1 (en) 1990-11-01 application
EP0468961A1 (en) 1992-02-05 application
EP0468961B1 (en) 1995-03-01 grant
US4883948A (en) 1989-11-28 grant
DE68921494D1 (en) 1995-04-06 grant
EP0468961A4 (en) 1993-03-31 application
JPH04504768A (en) 1992-08-20 application

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