Optical vend-sensing system for control of vending machine

  • US 7,343,220 B2
  • Filed: 12/15/2006
  • Issued: 03/11/2008
  • Est. Priority Date: 04/29/1998
  • Status: Expired due to Fees
First Claim
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1. A vending machine, comprising:

  • a transparent front,a dispensing mechanism configured to perform vending operations and dispense a product upon selection by a consumer,a vend space comprising a portion of space in said vending machine through which said selected product will freely fall, independent of a product lowering elevator, into a bin portion for retrieval by the consumer, andan optical vend-sensing system configured to sense when said selected product freely falls through said vend space,said optical vend-sensing system comprising;

    an emitter mechanism configured to generate electromagnetic radiation that substantially spans said vend space,a detector mechanism configured to receive electromagnetic radiation generated by said emitter mechanism and to detect changes in said electromagnetic radiation caused by said selected product as it freely falls through said vend space, the emitter mechanism and the detector mechanism being positioned above a customer accessible portion of the retrieval bin portion, anda calibration circuit for calibrating the optical vend-sensing system based on ambient light entering the vending machine through the transparent front.

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