Price Adjustment Patents (Class 700/238)
  • Patent number: 9865003
    Abstract: A system and method for vending digital video discs is provided. A request is received from a user to complete a rental transaction for a first digital video disc. A database is queried to determine whether a quantity of a set of second digital video discs in a vending inventory exceeds a predetermined threshold. A discount offer notification is presented to the user to rent one of the set of second digital video discs, upon determining that the quantity of the set of second digital video discs exceeds the predetermined threshold. A second request from the user to rent one of the second set of digital video discs is received, and one of the set of second digital video discs is vended to the user.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 30, 2017
    Date of Patent: January 9, 2018
    Assignee: Redbox Automated Retail, LLC
    Inventor: J. Mitch Lowe
  • Patent number: 8978867
    Abstract: Disclosed are an apparatus for setting a price for a multi-vending machine and a method thereof. The apparatus includes a price setting unit for inputting a price setting function, selecting a price setting column and inputting price information about the selected column; a control unit for controlling a price display of the selected column when the column is selected and the price information is input through the price setting unit; and a price display unit for displaying prices of products exhibited in a column according to a price display control of the control unit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 25, 2013
    Date of Patent: March 17, 2015
    Assignee: Lotte Aluminium Co., Ltd.
    Inventor: Samuel Kim
  • Publication number: 20140365001
    Abstract: A merchandise dispensing system for storing and dispensing food products, consumables, and beverages may include a plurality of modules, such as a food module, a consumables module, a beverage module, and one or more container modules. The modules may be positioned adjacent each other or connected to each other to form a merchandise dispensing system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 29, 2013
    Publication date: December 11, 2014
    Inventors: Brian Tomkins, John Fontana, Trisha Patel, Adrian Caroen
  • Publication number: 20140316563
    Abstract: Vending machines for rounding-up donations for charities. The machines allow consumers to donate change from transactions, or other amounts, to a charity through a purchase of goods or services from the machines.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 9, 2014
    Publication date: October 23, 2014
    Inventor: Michael K. Dershem
  • Publication number: 20140277708
    Abstract: A system, device, and method are directed to distributing and applying at least one benefit to units within a bulk quantity of units as they are redeemed. An election is received, optionally in response to a display, of a first quantity of units and a bulk quantity of units. When the first quantity of units is elected, units from the first quantity of units are provided without any additional benefits. When the bulk quantity of units is elected, units from the bulk quantity of units are provided with a benefit distributed across the units which is applied as units from the bulk quantity of units are redeemed.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 15, 2013
    Publication date: September 18, 2014
    Inventors: Jack Bertram Coronel, Joseph R. Coronel
  • Patent number: 8774963
    Abstract: Some embodiments are associated with receiving, by a vending machine, a request from a customer to initiate a communication session, establishing a first communication link between the vending machine and a device associated with the customer, and establishing a second communication link between the vending machine and a remote network device, such that a communication session is established between the device associated with the customer and the remote network device. Some embodiments are associated with receiving, by a vending machine, an indication of a selection of a product sold by the vending machine, receiving, from a customer, payment for the selected product, dispensing the product to the customer, the product comprising an indication of a communication session activation code, receiving, by the vending machine, an indication of the communication session activation code, and establishing a communication session between a device associated with the customer and a remote network device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 15, 2006
    Date of Patent: July 8, 2014
    Assignee: Inventor Holdings, LLC
    Inventors: Paul Signorelli, Sih Y. Lee, Paul T. Breitenbach, Daniel E. Tedesco, Dean P. Alderucci
  • Patent number: 8755934
    Abstract: Vending machines for rounding-up donations for charities. The machines allow consumers to donate change from transactions, or other amounts, to a charity through a purchase of goods or services from the machines.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 7, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 17, 2014
    Inventor: Michael Dershem
  • Patent number: 8751038
    Abstract: Systems and methods for vending devices having ad-watching as consideration are described. In some implementations, a vending apparatus includes a dispensing portion operable to dispense a product (e.g. electricity) to a user; a communication portion operable to provide a communicable content (e.g. an advertisement) to the user; and a control system operatively coupled to the dispensing portion and the communication portion. The control system receives a signal indicative of a consent by the user to receive or review the communicable content at least partially in exchange for the product, and after receipt of the signal, causes the communication portion to provide the communicable content to the user and causes the dispensing portion to dispense the product to the user. In further implementations, the apparatus may include a monitoring system operable to determine whether the user is receiving or reviewing the communicable content.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 1, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 10, 2014
    Assignee: Elwha LLC
    Inventors: Roderick A. Hyde, Muriel Y. Ishikawa, Jordin T. Kare, Clarence T. Tegreene, Charles Whitmer, Lowell L. Wood, Jr., Victoria Y. H. Wood
  • Publication number: 20140052292
    Abstract: A system and method for vending digital video discs is provided. A request is received from a user to complete a rental transaction for a first digital video disc. A database is queried to determine whether a quantity of a set of second digital video discs in a vending inventory exceeds a predetermined threshold. A discount offer notification is presented to the user to rent one of the set of second digital video discs, upon determining that the quantity of the set of second digital video discs exceeds the predetermined threshold. A second request from the user to rent one of the second set of digital video discs is received, and one of the set of second digital video discs is vended to the user.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 24, 2013
    Publication date: February 20, 2014
    Applicant: Redbox Automated Retail, LLC
    Inventor: J. Mitch Lowe
  • Patent number: 8655485
    Abstract: A vending machine and associated control system in support of vending one or more items to a passenger in a rear passenger salon of a taxicab includes a computer having a processor and memory and a display arranged for viewing by the passenger. Code modules execute in the processor and provide interactive selection controls on at least a portion of the display. The passenger can cause an item to be vended from a remotely-located machine by interacting with the selection controls. One code module communicates vended item cost information to another module for inclusion in a calculation of a total fare for the taxicab ride and any vended items. The vending machine is preferably located in the taxicab trunk and is arranged to deliver items into the passenger salon through a rear deck of the taxicab. The vending machine can be refrigerated using, in part, the taxicab's air-conditioning system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 17, 2010
    Date of Patent: February 18, 2014
    Assignee: U.S.A. Vendicab Corp.
    Inventors: Shaun F. Garber, Vladimir Shaposhnikov
  • Publication number: 20130085599
    Abstract: A beverage dispensing system includes a point of sale and one or more free-pour and/or controlled-pour spouts. The system receives data at the point of sale that includes a beverage selection entered at a user interface and determines the ingredients in the beverage selection. A dispensing instruction is sent to one of the controlled-pour spouts to dispense a quantity of the ingredient based at least in part on the beverage selection. For the free-pour spouts, a quantity of the ingredient is measured as the ingredient is dispensed from a container through a free-pour spout. The point of sale receives data that includes the identity of the ingredient and the measured quantity. A price of the beverage selection is calculated based at least in part on the ingredients dispensed and the quantities thereof. The price may be automatically calculated upon dispensing of the beverage selection.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 9, 2012
    Publication date: April 4, 2013
    Applicant: BEVERAGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, INC.
    Inventors: James Nicol, Gorham Nicol
  • Publication number: 20130079926
    Abstract: Embodiments of the invention can include systems and methods for dispensing consumable products. In one embodiment, a product dispenser is provided. The product dispenser can include a user interface operable to receive consumer inputs and to present product selection information. In addition, the product dispenser can include a reader configured to obtain identification information associated with a consumer. The product dispenser can include a controller in communication with the reader and user interface, and operable to execute a set of instructions to receive from the reader identification information associated with a consumer. The controller can also be operable to execute a set of instructions operable to retrieve consumer information based at least in part on the identification information, and provide product selection information at the user interface based at least in part on the consumer information.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 21, 2012
    Publication date: March 28, 2013
    Applicant: The Coca-Cola Company
    Inventor: The Coca-Cola Company
  • Patent number: 8380347
    Abstract: During operation of a vending machine, visual images of the next product to be dispensed from product dispensing locations are obtained. Features of the visual images are compared to a data base of features to determine the identity of the next product to be dispensed from each of the dispensing locations. After a product has been dispensed from a dispensing location, a visual image is obtained of the next product at the dispensing location. Features of the visual image of the next product at the dispensing location are compared to a data base of features to determine the identity of the next product to be dispensed. A displayed price of a product is compared with product prices in the data base. If necessary, the displayed price is adjusted to agree with the data base.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 2008
    Date of Patent: February 19, 2013
    Inventors: Brent D. Garson, Aviel Dafna, Alessandro Ratti, Ezio Cesare Ratti
  • Patent number: 8112303
    Abstract: A dynamic pricing system for pricing items for sale by a seller which items are available in a limited quantity comprises a pricing server and various types of data stored in memory. The pricing server includes memory, a processor and a clock. One type of data stored in memory is indicative of the initial quantity of an item available in a limited quantity. Another type of data stored in memory is indicative of the current remaining quantity of the item available in a limited quantity. Yet another type of data stored in memory is indicative of an expiration time at which it is desired that all of the item available in a limited quantity be sold. The processor is configured to price the item available in a limited quantity so as to deplete the inventory of the item available in a limited quantity by the expiration date based in part by accessing the memory to retrieve the data indicative of the initial quantity, the current remaining quantity and the expiration time and accessing the clock.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 31, 2007
    Date of Patent: February 7, 2012
    Assignee: Digonex Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Jeremy Eglen, Justin Bakke, Josh Voils
  • Patent number: 8095236
    Abstract: A kiosk or machine for buying media discs includes a dispense/receive system for dispensing the media discs to consumers and receiving media discs from customers, a disc identification system for identifying the media discs, a disc transfer system for moving the media discs within the kiosk, a control system operably connected to dispense/receive system, the disc transfer system, and a user interface system. The user interface includes a buy-back indicator or prompt which can be selectively activated by the customer. In response to activation of the buy-back indicator, the controller activates the dispense/receive system to receive a media disc for buy-back, activates the disc transfer system to move the media disc to the disc identification system, activates the disc identification system to identify the media disc, determines a buy-back price for the media disc, and activates the user interface system to display the buy-back price.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 26, 2008
    Date of Patent: January 10, 2012
    Assignee: Into Great Companies, Inc.
    Inventors: Alan T. Rudy, Bob Murray, Alan Wolf
  • Patent number: 8041453
    Abstract: In accordance with one embodiment, a vending machine comprises a plurality of receptacles for holding units of products, each receptacle operable to hold a respective plurality of units in a series. The vending machine further comprises a dispensing mechanism operable to dispense, from each receptacle, a first unit in the respective plurality of units, the dispensing mechanism thereby being operable to dispense only a first unit from the respective series at a time. The vending machine further comprises a means for determining, for a unit, information allowing a relationship among the unit and a location of the unit in the receptacle to be determined.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 27, 2004
    Date of Patent: October 18, 2011
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, Sih Y. Lee, Paul D. Signorelli, James A. Jorasch
  • Patent number: 7912581
    Abstract: Products and processes are disclosed for defining at least one inventory group. This at least one inventory group includes at least two products that are available for sale by a vending machine. The vending machine outputs an indication of products that the at least one inventory group includes. The vending machine receiving, from a customer, a selection of a first product that the at least one inventory group includes. The vending machine processes a sale of a unit of the first product and a respective unit of at least one additional product for a single price.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 23, 2007
    Date of Patent: March 22, 2011
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Paul T. Breitenbach, Daniel E. Tedesco, Sih Y. Lee, Paul D. Signorelli, Geoffrey M. Gelman, James A. Jorasch
  • Patent number: 7904390
    Abstract: A management apparatus, a charging object apparatus and a management system and method by which a product of an object of use can be used in an efficiency as high as possible when it is used commonly by a plurality of people.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 20, 2002
    Date of Patent: March 8, 2011
    Assignee: Sony Corporation
    Inventor: Yasuji Yui
  • Patent number: 7894937
    Abstract: The present invention is a method and apparatus for automatically managing a price of a product in a vending machine. The method and apparatus is disclosed for implementing dynamic price adjustments at various times including after stocking, after a sale of a product and at periodic intervals. The method generally includes the steps of updating inventory data, including a quantity of a product, accessing price management data associated with the product, and determining the price of the product. According to the method and apparatus of the present invention, the determined price of the product is based on the price management data and the inventory data. The determined price is then stored in a memory of the apparatus and displayed for customers. The apparatus may be a vending machine, a processing module within the vending machine, or an external module remotely transmitting the dynamically adjusted price to a vending machine.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 29, 2007
    Date of Patent: February 22, 2011
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Daniel E. Tedesco, James A. Jorasch, Robert R. Lech
  • Patent number: 7894936
    Abstract: According to one embodiment of the disclosed invention, an apparatus determines a current price of a product for sale by the vending machine. It then determines, for the product, a price increment, a predetermined price, and a demand threshold, that are defined by data stored in at least one data table. A rate of units of the product that are sold are determined. The rate is compared with the demand threshold. Based on the comparison of the rate with the demand data, it is determined whether the new price should be greater than or less than the current price. The new price is set to the predetermined price if the new price should be greater than the current price. If the new price should be less than the current price, a price increment amount is subtracted from the current price to yield the new price. The determined new price is displayed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 15, 2004
    Date of Patent: February 22, 2011
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, Dean P. Alderucci
  • Patent number: 7885726
    Abstract: This invention relates generally to systems and methods for delivering products-on-demand to individuals and, more particularly, to delivery via vending machines. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the method of the instant invention is initiated when a customer makes an initial product selection. Based the customer's product choice, a determination is made as to whether or not that product qualifies for an alternate product offer. If it does not so qualify, the customer's original selection will be dispensed and the transaction ends. On the other hand, if the product does so qualify, the customer will be presented with an offer message that suggests that he or she should try an alternative product. Typically, the product that is offered as an alternative will be the one whose sale is most beneficial to the vending machine operator, e.g., the one yielding the greatest profit. If the customer accepts the alternate offer, the alternate product will be dispensed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 10, 2006
    Date of Patent: February 8, 2011
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, Andrew S. Van Luchene, Keith Bemer
  • Patent number: 7881822
    Abstract: A system and method for selling and/or dispensing consumer products from a vending or transactional-based machine is disclosed. The vending or transactional-based machine comprises an aerial display device that displays an aerial image designed to attract the attention of potential consumers and sell advertising, special promotions or certain products. Once a consumer begins to interact with the vending machine, demographic data is collected or correlated with the product purchased or dispensed. The consumer can initiate and conclude a purchase by merely pointing at the desired product. A mechanism is provided that accepts payment by currency, credit card or electronically.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 16, 2005
    Date of Patent: February 1, 2011
    Assignee: Provision Interactive Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Curtis L. Thornton, Jeffery L. Vrachan, Robert Ostrander
  • Patent number: 7826923
    Abstract: Package deals comprising component products from inventory groups are offered and sold to customers of vending machines. In some embodiments, an association of the component products with the inventory groups is indicated by at least one of a placement of the component products and/or physical indicia associated with the component products.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 8, 2006
    Date of Patent: November 2, 2010
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Paul T. Breitenbach, Daniel E. Tedesco, Sih Y. Lee, Paul D. Signorelli, Geoffrey M. Gelman, James A. Jorasch
  • Publication number: 20100241505
    Abstract: A vending machine capable of refilling used ink cartridges as well as dispensing filled ink cartridges is closed. The vending machine includes at least one cartridge receptacle for receiving an ink cartridge, a user interface, a display unit, a nozzle health check module, a printhead servicing module, an ink reservoir, an ink refilling unit, a compartment containing new ink cartridges, a compartment containing filled, second-hand ink cartridges, and a recycle compartment for receiving discarded ink cartridges. The user is presented by the display unit with the option of (a) refilling a used cartridge, (b) purchasing a filled cartridge, or (c) returning a used cartridge in exchange for a purchase rebate or a discount voucher. When the user selects the option of refilling, the vending machine executes a refilling subroutine which includes checking the nozzle health.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 4, 2010
    Publication date: September 23, 2010
    Inventors: Tong-Nam-Samuel Low, Yu Zhao, Poovendhran S/O Kannayah, Ling Hwee Vincent Ong
  • Publication number: 20100211218
    Abstract: Disclosed herein are various systems and methods for improving the establishment and management of vending machine subscriptions, including systems and methods for constructing, communicating, and registering subscriptions, as well as various methods for processing the redemption of vending machine subscription items. Several additional embodiments are disclosed, including various alternate methods of promoting longitudinal machine-customer relationships.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 7, 2010
    Publication date: August 19, 2010
    Inventors: Paul T. Breitenbach, Sih Y. Lee, Paul D. Signorelli, Daniel E. Tedesco, James A. Jorasch, Stephen C. Tulley, Geoffrey M. Gelman, Robert C. Tedesco
  • Publication number: 20100152893
    Abstract: An automated method of purchasing kiosk items, where a toll call from a variety of typically mobile appliances (i.e. cell phone, PDA, tablet PC, personal desktop or laptop computer, etc.) activates an apparatus that causes the automated kiosk to fulfill demanded items upon successful validation and billing via an interface to a telecommunications network. A mobile phone can therefore be billed by dialing a “1-900” type toll number and specify the desired product via touch tone commands, or by similarly “texting” the order to a designated telecommunications recipient. Furthermore, the apparatus includes a means to provide maintenance and diagnostics and services so as to minimize operating costs of the kiosk system, along with necessary management services such as inventory control. The kiosk can be interfaced with the telecommunications network in a variety of ways, such as, but not limited to POTS modem for twisted pair copper, DSL modem for twisted pair copper, Ethernet controller for CAT-5, etc.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 11, 2008
    Publication date: June 17, 2010
    Inventors: Christopher Percing Fure, Frank Ting Kong Cheung
  • Patent number: 7515989
    Abstract: A goods sales management system has a plurality of goods vending machines 1provided with containers for storing a plurality of goods and a vending machine management apparatus 80 connected to each of the plurality of the goods vending machines via a communication line 70. The goods vending machine 1 has a time adjustment management unit 64 for making a time managed by itself coincide with a time managed by the vending machine management apparatus 80, an information management unit 63 for managing sales information such as number of sold goods and a sales time, a transmission time setting unit 66 for setting a transmitting time when the sales information is transmitted to the vending machine management apparatus 80, and an information transmitting unit 65 for transmitting the sales information to the vending machine management apparatus 80 at the set transmission time.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 4, 2004
    Date of Patent: April 7, 2009
    Assignee: Sega Corporation
    Inventor: Wataru Yoshizaki
  • Patent number: 7299109
    Abstract: A vending machine having promotional features, wherein a secured token is associated with a subset of all the items that can be vended, and validation of the token limits the items offered to the patron for his selection to only that subset of items. A first vending machine promotes a new product by the manufacturer of the new product distributing secure promotional tokens good for a free vend or a discount on the price of the new product. In a second vending machine, products from multiple manufacturers are separately promoted using distinct secure promotional tokens for each brand. In a third vending machine providing a plurality of time-metered services, a secure promotional token provides only a limited economy subset of services for the patron's selection from among the plurality of services.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 28, 2005
    Date of Patent: November 20, 2007
    Assignee: IDX, Inc.
    Inventors: Scott Juds, James H. Halsey
  • Patent number: 7249050
    Abstract: This invention relates generally to systems and methods for delivering products-on-demand to individuals and, more particularly, to delivery via vending machines. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the method of the instant invention is initiated when a customer makes an initial product selection. Based the customer's product choice, a determination is made as to whether or not that product qualifies for an alternate product offer. If it does not so qualify, the customer's original selection will be dispensed and the transaction ends. On the other hand, if the product does so qualify, the customer will be presented with an offer message that suggests that he or she should try an alternative product. Typically, the product that is offered as an alternative will be the one whose sale is most beneficial to the vending machine operator, e.g., the one yielding the greatest profit. If the customer accepts the alternate offer, the alternate product will be dispensed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 30, 1999
    Date of Patent: July 24, 2007
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, Andrew S. Van Luchene, Keith Bemer
  • Patent number: 7233912
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for delivering a plurality of products from a vending machine is disclosed. The method generally allows an offer for a package to be output, in which the package defines a plurality of products, including a selected product. An apparatus is also disclosed to carry out the method steps of the present invention.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 11, 2002
    Date of Patent: June 19, 2007
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, James A. Jorasch, Robert R. Lech, Dean P. Alderucci
  • Patent number: 7110858
    Abstract: A measure of security is provided by determining authenticity of an object (e.g., credit card, cell phone, car keys, etc.) by letting the object predict at which nodes multiple specific data packets are going to be in a distributed network in the next time slot.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 9, 2001
    Date of Patent: September 19, 2006
    Assignee: Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
    Inventor: Vladimir R. Pisarsky
  • Patent number: 7027890
    Abstract: The present invention is a fuel dispensing system for enhancing cash transactions, which includes a fuel dispenser associated with a control system and a receiver adapted to receive signals, including identification indicia from a remote communications unit associated with a customer when a cash transaction is indicated. A cash transaction indicator is adapted to signal the control system that a cash transaction is taking place, and may be selectable by the customer or an operator of the system at the beginning of the transaction. The system may also include a transmitter adapted to transmit the customer-related information to the remote communication unit associated with the customer, or may include memory for storing the customer-related information in association with the identification indicia. The system may store credit for change based on a cash transaction, or may provide and store loyalty points on or in association with a transponder.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2000
    Date of Patent: April 11, 2006
    Assignee: Gilbarco Inc.
    Inventor: Amy Hetz Wilson
  • Publication number: 20040199286
    Abstract: To provide a commodity price setting method and a commodity price setting system in an automatic vending machine, which can reduce wrong setting of a commodity price and with which an operator can easily set and confirm a commodity price. Since a numerical value of a commodity price is formed by multiplying a minimum currency value in an inputting apparatus and this numerical value is inputted in a storage device, a set value can always be a multiple of a minimum currency value with a minimum unit of the set value as the minimum currency value. Therefore, a fraction less than the minimum currency value that cannot be used in the automatic vending machine is never set as a commodity price, and confusion and wrong operation such as a customer trying to insert an unusable currency can be surely prevented.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 20, 2004
    Publication date: October 7, 2004
    Applicant: Sanden Corporation
    Inventors: Kazuyasu Ushigome, Naoto Matsumoto
  • Patent number: 6766219
    Abstract: A medication dispensing cassette and related apparatus for controlling and monitoring of dispensing of oral medications is disclosed. The cassette comprises at least one continuous track having a plurality of receptacles for medication, a microprocessor to monitor and effect any movement of the continuous track and to control release of medication according to a predetermined schedule and for monitoring such release and optionally, a communication system for transmission of data on release of medication to a remote location. The remote location may be a data management system in communication with at least one of a physician's office, a hospital, a pharmacy, an insurance company, a research organization or an individual. The medication may be in the form of a pill, a powder or a liquid. The apparatus facilitates patient education with respect to the medication through display of information, and optionally as well as support and transfer data from peripheral devices e.g.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 26, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 20, 2004
    Inventor: Gary Marcel Hasey
  • Patent number: 6695166
    Abstract: A vending machine containing one or more racks that contain stacked products to be vended to customers. An array of capacitive switches or capacitive switches are aligned on one or more racks. The capacitive switches are each aligned with the height of a product to be vended. A controller coupled to the array of capacitive switches senses the presence or lack thereof of a product in the rack, and correlates this presence or absence to a height and/or inventory count of products in the racks. The vending machine, using the controller and communication electronics, may communicate the height and/or inventory count of products in the racks to a device located outside of the vending machine, such as a hand-held computing device and/or a management system, over a communication link.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 26, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 24, 2004
    Assignee: Vending Management Services, Ltd.
    Inventor: Joseph D. Long
  • Patent number: 6662080
    Abstract: An information medium collecting unit receives and collects information media to be recycled. An inspection unit inspects the information media collected at the information medium collecting unit. An electronic-data recording unit transfers and records electronic data stored in a storage unit onto the information media that are determined to be recyclable as a result of the inspection. A product holding unit holds the information media on which the electronic data is recorded. A product discharging unit discharges the information media held in the product holding unit, in accordance with a distribution request. Since the information media collected at a vending machine are processed inside of the vending machine for recycling and are turned into products inside of the vending machine for direct sale, information media to be discarded are reduced and thus cost to customers to obtain information can be reduced.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 26, 2001
    Date of Patent: December 9, 2003
    Assignee: Seiko Epson Corporation
    Inventors: Yoichi Wakai, Satoshi Nebashi, Yasuhiro Nomura, Yoshiiku Sendai, Tetsuo Yamagishi
  • Patent number: 6624757
    Abstract: An electronic display strip is attached to the shelf front of retail shelves, each shelf having an address code assigned through a control computer. Display fields of variable locations and lengths within each display strip are assigned to each product on a shelf through the control computer. Shelf and display field address codes, product information and product price information are transmitted on a continuous or intermittent basis by the control computer through a communications link to signal processors at each display strip. A control circuit for the display strip stores the information in a display memory and energizes the display field matching the display field address code for the product, thereby displaying the product information and product price in the display field.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 12, 2000
    Date of Patent: September 23, 2003
    Inventor: Neldon P. Johnson
  • Publication number: 20030120380
    Abstract: An apparatus and a method provide a convenient way for consumers to recycle used batteries. The apparatus is a self-contained station or kiosk that accepts used batteries from a consumer and dispenses one or both of fully charged batteries and credit for the used battery to the consumer. The method determines one or more of chemistry, rechargeability and condition of the used battery, assigns a credit value to the used battery, and dispenses a form of credit based on the assigned credit value. The present invention recycles one or both of used rechargeable and used nonrechargeable batteries and separately dispenses fully charged batteries. Used rechargeable batteries are recharged and reused, and used non-rechargeable batteries are collected for proper disposal according to regulations.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 21, 2001
    Publication date: June 26, 2003
    Inventor: Heather N. Bean
  • Patent number: 6527020
    Abstract: An oil supply station system of the present invention includes a plurality of oil supply apparatuses standing within an oil supply station, and each having at a body case thereof a self-service oil supply mechanism and a touch-activated operating panel and having a printer for recording any change on a slip for a cash transaction. The system further includes a change dispenser disposed in a vicinity of an office of the oil supply station, for reading the slip and discharging change. Also, a POS terminal is connected in a data communicable manner with the plurality of oil supply apparatuses and the change dispenser, for providing permission to the change dispenser to dispense change.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 4, 2002
    Date of Patent: March 4, 2003
    Assignee: Tatsuno Corporation
    Inventors: Akifumi Kanamori, Kengo Yamazaki, Masahiko Araki
  • Patent number: 6502012
    Abstract: The present invention describes various methods and apparatus to increase efficiency and sales of a Newspaper Rack. Several sensors are positioned throughout the Newspaper Rack to monitor when the remaining inventory reaches a predetermined quantity or is depleted. A logic circuit monitors the sensors and when the sensors change state, a signal is transmitted to a central location. The central location may add time-stamping, reference the location, and compile the information into a database. The central location notifies the proper party to service the Newspaper Rack. The Newspaper Rack can include various mechanisms to stimulate customers into purchasing a Newspaper, such as a visual display or audible means. The stimulating information can be obtained and/or changed using wireless transmission to a receiver. The Newspaper Rack can include external monitoring devices to gather information for traffic flow, weather, or other desirable information.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 28, 2002
    Date of Patent: December 31, 2002
    Inventor: Kim Marie Nelson
  • Publication number: 20020116088
    Abstract: A system for dispensing and containing a consumer product to a customer comprising the receiving a purchaserequest for the consumer product; presenting at least one question to the customer wherein the customer is asked if the customer will pay an extra fee to receive the consumer product in a toy container machine shaped like a model airplane with a moveable cargo door for accessing the consumer product; receiving an answer to the question from the customer, and; dispensing the consumer product in the toy container machine shaped like a model airplane with a moveable cargo door for accessing the consumer product if the answer indicates that said consumer agrees to pay the extra fee. Alternatively, no fee may be charged and a logo for or a business may be included on the toy container machine shaped like a model airplane. The system is particularly useful in airports.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 20, 2001
    Publication date: August 22, 2002
    Applicant: AIRCRAFTS LIMITED
    Inventor: Steven Howard Rowe
  • Publication number: 20020065579
    Abstract: A vending machine method and apparatus are disclosed for encouraging vending machine customers to review a marketing promotion or to participate in a survey while making a purchase. Customers are immediately rewarded for providing responses about the marketing promotion that was previously presented or their preferences or opinions. The reward may be, for example, a supplementary product, a discount on the customer's current purchase or a subsequent purchase, or a rebate. The vending machine ensures that it contains sufficient currency and products to meet the requirements of all active reward offers. The vending machine ensures that buyers are committed to making a purchase, before offering a reward to a customer. Unscrupulous customers are discouraged from using repeatedly participating in a marketing promotion, merely to collect rewards or influence the results of a survey.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 30, 2001
    Publication date: May 30, 2002
    Inventors: Daniel E. Tedesco, Jay S. Walker, James A. Jorasch
  • Patent number: 6397193
    Abstract: The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for automatically delivering a combination of products from a vending machine at a package price. The method of the present invention includes the step of receiving a package identifier. The method also includes the steps of identifying a set of products corresponding to the package identifier and determining a package price corresponding to the identified set of products. The method further includes the steps of outputting a signal representing the package price and outputting a signal representing an instruction to dispense a unit of each identified product. An apparatus is also disclosed to carry out the method steps of the present invention.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 22, 1998
    Date of Patent: May 28, 2002
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, James A. Jorasch, Robert R. Lech
  • Patent number: 6397126
    Abstract: A remote means for payment of purchases made using an automated vending machine. The remote means may include a signal or power to release the goods to the consumer. The remote means may interface with the vending machine using wires or wireless technology. The remote means may further provide a means to communicate to the service party when the vending machine requires servicing, such as when the inventory reaches a predetermined quantity. The remote means may also include the capability to communicate a signal which can modify the price of the goods. The preferred embodiment would be using a remote payment system in conjunction with a newspaper vending machine, as the newspaper vending machines operate using battery power, making power consumption a critical parameter.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 2, 2000
    Date of Patent: May 28, 2002
    Inventor: Kim Marie Nelson
  • Publication number: 20020035411
    Abstract: A method for enabling a printing machine having a customer billing interface to bill the customer for marking jobs having different sheet sizes includes programming different rates for different size sheets into the printing machine. With receipt of a machine enable signal from the customer billing interface, a sheet is fed and the printing machine determines the sheet size. After the printing machine performs a marking operation, the printing machine emits a signal for each sheet marked to the customer billing interface.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 29, 2000
    Publication date: March 21, 2002
    Inventors: David L. Salgado, John W. Daughton, Jeffrey Gramowski, Thomas G. Lindsay, Michael W. Barrett
  • Patent number: 6324520
    Abstract: A dispensing device, such as a vending machine, is equipped to monitor product demand and consumer traffic that passes by the machine. The dispensing device collects and analyzes product demand data to determine optimal product stocking, to offer products to undecided consumers and to offer substitute products when a selected product is out of stock. The substitute product may be determined according to which alternate product historically has the highest demand when a particular selected product is unavailable. Alternatively, the substitute product may be determined according to which stocked item has an imminent expiration date. Also, the substitute product may be predetermined by an operator of a vending machine or may be determined by other factors. The substitute product may further be offered to the customer at a discounted price.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 1, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 27, 2001
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, John M. Packes, Jr.
  • Patent number: 6295482
    Abstract: A newspaper vending machine is equipped with a computerized control and an infrared (IR) communications transceiver. A user equipped with an IR transceiver may download an electronic copy of an article, an electronic copy of the newspaper itself or a network address where these may be obtained. The IR link is also used to transfer digital cash or payment authorizations to the vending machine in exchange for the information.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 26, 1996
    Date of Patent: September 25, 2001
    Assignee: Sun Microsystems, Inc.
    Inventor: Bruce Tognazzini
  • Patent number: 6230150
    Abstract: Methods and apparatus are disclosed for automatically testing, monitoring and managing the pricing and other sales information associated with products sold by vending machines. A price or other sales information associated with a product is initially adjusted at one or more initial vending machines, before automatically and progressively expanding the new price or other sales information to additional vending machines, upon verification of a successful change. Successful test results are thus automatically propagated to additional vending machines for further testing in the market. The sales information that can be tested includes price, product placement instructions, new advertising or promotional instructions, and packaging instructions for the sale of a group of products at a single price.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 31, 1998
    Date of Patent: May 8, 2001
    Assignee: Walker Digital, LLC
    Inventors: Jay S. Walker, Daniel E. Tedesco, James A. Jorasch
  • Patent number: 6167327
    Abstract: A pricing control system for multi-operation vending machines, such as those commonly found in laundromat facilities, incorporates an offset price setting field for storing at least one incremental offset price which is added to a pre-established base price in order to set the cost for a respective vending machine operation. In accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the invention, a single offset price is used to increment each of the base prices established for a given vending machine such that the costs associated with each of the operations is incremented an equal amount. In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, multiple offset price amounts are stored and added to predetermined base prices to establish the cost of each of the respective vending machine operations.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 29, 1997
    Date of Patent: December 26, 2000
    Assignee: Maytag Corporation
    Inventors: John F. Broker, Douglas A. Ochsner
  • Patent number: RE39234
    Abstract: An audit monitoring system (10) is provided for use with any of a multiplicity of different coin operated vending machines (300). The audit monitoring system includes an interface assembly (102) for use in replacing an existing data link (330) within vending machine (300). The interface assembly (102) is coupled to an audit monitoring assembly (100) which interprets the communications signals transferred between a controller (310), coin changer (322) and bill validator (324) of vending machine (300). Audit monitoring assembly (100) is powered from a power supply (302) of vending machine (300) and includes interface circuitry (110,120,130) for receipt of digital logic level signals, serial data or relay logic signals from vending machine (300).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 26, 2002
    Date of Patent: August 8, 2006
    Assignee: Audit Systems Company
    Inventors: Eugene G. Ostendorf, John C. Cowles, Irwin D. Morris, Gerald W. Smith