Optical vend-sensing system for control of vending machine

  • US 6,384,402 B1
  • Filed: 03/03/1999
  • Issued: 05/07/2002
  • Est. Priority Date: 04/29/1998
  • Status: Expired due to Term
First Claim
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1. An optical vend-sensing system for control of a vending machine which has at least one mechanism arranged for initiating operation upon selection by a customer for vending an article into a vend space through which the article falls into a customer-accessible hopper, the vend space having a defined lateral width and a defined front-to-rear depth, said sensing system comprising:

  • an article sensing subsystem arranged athwart said vend space, said article sensing subsystem comprising;

    at least one emitter of electromagnetic radiation, and associated emitting structure, arranged to emit electromagnetic radiation in a broad plane which substantially completely covers the transverse cross section of the vend space, the transverse cross section extending across the lateral width and across the front-to-rear depth of the vend space and being below said at least one mechanism but above where said article, upon being vended, comes to rest in said customer-accessible hopper, and comprising at least one electromagnetic radiation detector and associated detection structure;

    a machine control unit arranged to terminate operation of the respective at least one mechanism; and

    control circuitry operatively connecting said article sensing subsystem with said machine control unit, and arranged to cause the machine control unit to complete a vend operation procedure of said at least one mechanism upon said article sensing subsystem sensing that electromagnetic radiation, reaching said at least one detector and associated detection structure as a result of electromagnetic radiation emission by said at least one emitter and associated emitting structure, has temporarily diminished by predetermined amount.

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