US 20050167482 A1
The invention relates to a self-service automated transaction machine that permits an authorized user to perform transactions therewith based on facial recognition. Examples of transactions include withdrawing cash, depositing cash, and exchanging cash. The machine includes a plurality of cameras from which plural facial images are captured in determining whether to grant machine access to an individual adjacent the machine.
1. Apparatus comprising:
a facial recognition system self-service automated transaction machine,
wherein the machine is operative to carry out transactions involving exchange of monetary value,
wherein the machine includes a user interface,
wherein the user interface includes at least one input device and at least one output device,
wherein the at least one input device is operative to receive input from an individual adjacent to the machine,
wherein the at least one output device includes a display device,
wherein the machine includes a plurality of cameras,
wherein each camera is operative to capture at least one image of at least one facial appearance feature of an individual adjacent to the machine,
wherein the machine includes at least one computer,
wherein the at least one computer includes software comprising machine readable instructions,
wherein the at least one computer is in operative connection with the at least one input device and the at least one output device,
wherein the at least one computer is operative to control the plurality of cameras to capture a plurality of facial appearance feature images of an individual adjacent to the machine,
wherein the at least one computer is operative to generate a facial recognition image record corresponding to the individual responsive to the plurality of images in a determination of whether the individual corresponds to an authorized user of the machine,
wherein the at least one computer is operative to grant machine access to the individual to perform an exchange transaction with the machine and cause an indication of the access to be output through the display device responsive to a determination that the individual is an authorized user of the machine.
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46. A method comprising:
(a) operating at least one computer of a facial recognition system self-service automated transaction machine to control a plurality of cameras of the machine to capture a plurality of facial appearance feature images of an individual adjacent to the machine, wherein the at least one computer is in operative connection with at least one input device and at least one output device of a user interface of the machine, wherein the at least one output device includes a display device;
(b) operating the at least one computer to generate a facial recognition image record corresponding to the individual responsive to the plurality of images captured in step (a) in a determination of whether the individual corresponds to an authorized user of the machine; and
(c) responsive to a determination that the individual is an authorized user of the machine, operating the at least one computer to grant machine access to the individual to perform an exchange transaction with the machine and cause an indication of the access to be output through the display device.
47. The method according to
(d) operating the at least one computer to communicate with a data store arrangement comprising at least one data store containing facial recognition data for each of a plurality of authorized users of the machine; and
(e) comparing data corresponding to the facial recognition image record generated in step (b) to facial recognition data in the at least one data store.
48. The method according to
(d) subsequent to step (c), operating the currency dispenser to dispense currency from the ATM.
49. The method according to
(e) subsequent to step (c), operating the currency receiving mechanism to receive currency into the ATM.
50. The method according to
51. The method according to
(d) subsequent to step (c), operating the machine to modify smart card memory data representative of a monetary value.
52. The method according to
53. The method according to
(d) operating the gaming material reader device to read gaming materials.
54. Computer readable media bearing instructions which are operative to cause the at least one computer to cause the machine to carry out the method steps recited in
This invention relates to automated transaction machines. Specifically this invention relates to an automated transaction machine that dispenses notes to users and which has an internal note storage area which may be replenished without accessing the interior of the machine.
Automated transaction machines are known in the prior art. A common type of automated transaction machine is an automated teller machine (ATM). ATMs have been developed which are capable of performing a variety of transactions including the dispensing of currency notes. Other types of transaction machines dispense notes and other types of sheets to users such as bank tellers, cashiers and other service providers. Other types of automated transaction machines dispense items such as tickets, travelers checks, scrip, vouchers or gaming materials. Automated transaction machines generally dispense such materials while assessing appropriate charges and credits to the respective accounts of the user, the machine owner and the provider of the dispensed materials. For purposes of this description an automated transaction machine will be considered as any machine that is capable of carrying out transactions including transfers of value.
Automated transaction machines that dispense notes or other types of sheets representative of value are generally constructed to prevent access to the supply of sheets within the machine by unauthorized persons. In most cases such automated transaction machines include a secure chest or other secure enclosure. Access to the enclosure is controlled by a lock or other security device so that the interior thereof may only be accessed by appropriate personnel. The interior of the secure enclosure generally includes storage areas for currency notes and other types of sheets which are valuable. The storage areas are often inside removable canisters or other types of enclosures that may be readily installed in and removed from the machine when the secure area is accessed. Sheets are dispensed by the machine to users from the sheet storage areas. When the storage areas require replenishment a service person opens the secure chest and replenishes the supplies. In some cases this is done by removing the depleted or partially depleted canisters and replacing those canisters with filled canisters. In other situations it may involve inserting a “brick” of currency or sheets into the canisters or other sheet storage areas to replenish the sheet supplies.
A drawback associated with the construction of such conventional automated transaction machines is that replenishing the sheet supplies requires opening the secure area of the machine. This provides the service person with access to all the valuable sheets as well as the sensitive electronic equipment within the machine. This presents opportunities for theft and tampering. When canisters are changed several individuals may have access to the canister during the times when it is being loaded, transported and installed in the machine. Likewise partially depleted canisters returning from machines for replenishment may pass through several hands. This may present opportunities for pilferage for which responsibility cannot be readily documented. Tamper resistant and tamper indicating sheet holding canisters have been developed. However such containers are not failsafe and may still be subject to compromise by skilled thieves. Sheet holding canisters may also be stolen in their entirety when in transit to and from machines. The use of currency canisters is also expensive. The use of such canisters adds to the cost of the automated transaction machines by requiring the inclusion of mechanisms that can open, close and work in conjunction with sheet containing canisters. The handling and transport of canisters also adds to the cost of machine operation.
Lower cost automated transaction machines are often installed in gas stations, convenience stores and other merchandising facilities. Such automated transaction machines often carry out only cash dispensing transactions. While the reduced capabilities of such machines results in a lower machine acquisition cost, the problems of handling sheets still exists. Because the security in such merchandising facilities is often not as high as that found in banking environments, it is not uncommon to use armored car type courier services to carry out cash replenishment transactions in such machines. This adds to the cost of machine operation.
Operators of automated transaction machines in merchandising facilities would desire to replenish the note supplies in such machines with cash that is available within the establishment. Doing this can avoid the cost of having to pay a third party to carry out cash replenishment, which reduces operating costs. However in many merchandise transaction environments the trustworthiness of the personnel may not be verifiable. As a result the machine operator may not want to give their personnel access to the large amounts of cash which are available within the interior of an automated transaction machine. Replenishing the currency supplies within such machines may be an activity limited to supervisory level personnel. However, despite such precautions shortages and discrepancies can occur. This is particularly true when several individuals have the capability of accessing the interior of a machine.
Recently automated transaction machines have been developed that are capable of “recycling” currency. Such machines are capable of accepting currency notes from a user or operator, and determining the genuineness and particular type of each note. Such machines selectively store the deposited notes in locations within the machine. At a later time when the same or another user requests a dispense of notes, the machine dispenses the previously deposited notes to the user. While such machines have the capability of having the note supplies replenished without accessing the interior of the machine, such machines are generally complex and expensive. The installation of such a machine would generally not be cost justified in situations where relatively low cost, cash dispense only type machines are currently used.
There are also many other types of self service and vending machines that users operate which could be improved by adding the capability to such machines of accepting and dispensing currency notes. Common examples of such machines include motor fuel dispensing pumps, vending machines, automated ticketing machines and automated gaming machines. Often such machines already have a user interface that is capable of reading a user's credit card. Such machines also have the capability of assessing a charge to a user's account in exchange for merchandise or services provided. Increasingly self service machines are being provided with the capability of accepting a user's smart card. Smart cards include a memory thereon which has data representative of monetary value. Instead of assessing a charge to a user's account, such machines also have the capability of deducting the monetary value from the value represented by data in the memory of the user's smart card.
Cash receiving and dispensing capability has generally not been provided in most self service and vending machines for several reasons. First, cash dispensing and accepting mechanisms have in the past generally been expensive and would render such machines cost prohibitive to acquire and operate. Second, such machines generally do not include the security features included in automated teller machines or cash dispensers, because the items generally dispensed by such machines are not readily disposed of for cash value. Another reason such machines have not been provided with cash accepting and/or dispensing capability is that to do so would require the machine operators to incur the additional costs associated with cash handling previously discussed, that are often encountered in the use of operating ATMs and cash dispensers. A further drawback has been that making cash acceptance and dispensing an integral part of such machines may limit their operation to selected hours and locations where greater security may be maintained. Thus, while users may benefit from having machines such as motor fuel dispensing pumps and vending machines accept and receive cash, providing such machines with these capabilities has been cost prohibitive.
Thus there exists a need for an automated transaction machine that is inexpensive to produce and operate, but that is also highly reliable. There further exists a need for an automated transaction machine that is capable of being replenished with currency notes or other sheets of value without having to access the note storage areas in the interior of the machine. There further exists a need for an automated transaction machine which includes a note receiving and dispensing component that adds only limited cost to the production and operation of the machine.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine which is capable of dispensing sheets having value, such as currency notes.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine which dispenses currency notes from a note storage area within the machine and which is capable of having the note storage area replenished without accessing an interior of the machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine which includes a note supply that can be replenished without accessing an interior area of the machine and which is configurable to be replenished from either the front or the rear side of the machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that is economical to produce and to operate.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that is capable of receiving, validating and dispensing sheets such as currency notes.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine which provides for the receiving and dispensing of currency notes as a supplementary function to a primary vending or self service function that is carried out by the machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine which is capable of dispensing notes from a note storage area within the machine and which is capable of having a note supply readily removed from the machine by authorized personnel.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that is easy for users to operate and which provides timely promotional and other messages to users of the machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that provides separate user interfaces for both the merchant and the customer/consumer.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that provides an enclosure having an upper portion including user interface areas and a separately connected lower portion including sheet storage areas.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that provides a sheet inlet opening and a sheet outlet opening adjacent the rear of the machine for a merchant side user, and a sheet outlet opening adjacent a front of the machine for a consumer side user.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that provides a merchant user interface adjacent the rear of the machine, and a consumer user interface adjacent a front of the machine.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a financial transaction apparatus that can identify an authorized user through their general outward appearance and/or voice characteristics.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a financial transaction apparatus that may identify an authorized user based on a correlation between physical appearance and voice characteristics.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that may determine authorization and/or identity of a merchant user based on the merchant user's appearance and/or voice characteristics.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a financial transaction apparatus that can identify an authorized user either by physical appearance, voice characteristics, biometrics, or through manual inputs, or any combination thereof.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated transaction machine that may be operated or activated responsive to the sensing of a merchant user's appearance feature and/or voice feature, or any single feature or combination of features relating to a merchant user's appearance, voice, biometrics, user card, etc.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method for operating a financial transaction apparatus which includes an operation sequence in which a financial transaction machine outputs audio messages to a user and receives voice instructions from a user in response thereto.
Further objects of the present invention will be made apparent in the following Best Modes For Carrying Out Invention and the appended claims.
The foregoing objects are accomplished in an exemplary embodiment by an automated transaction machine. The automated transaction machine may be a machine whose primary function is the receipt and/or dispensing of sheets such as currency notes. Alternatively the automated transaction machine may be associated with a primary function such as the vending of motor fuel, lottery tickets, transit tokens or other transactions and may include the dispensing and/or receipt of sheets having value, such as currency.
The automated transaction machine in one exemplary embodiment includes a machine housing. The housing includes a user interface area including at least one input device through which the machine may receive at least one input from a user of the machine. A sheet inlet opening extends through the housing as does a sheet outlet opening.
Within the housing of the machine is a note receiving and dispensing mechanism. The note receiving and dispensing mechanism is operatively connected to a sheet storage area which in the described embodiment is used for holding currency notes. The sheet receiving and dispensing mechanism includes a passage area through which sheets are passed when they are being received by the mechanism for storage in the storage area. Sheets also pass through the passage area when they are being dispensed by the mechanism from the storage area.
The described embodiment further includes a note inlet transport which extends between the note inlet opening and the passage. A note validator is positioned adjacent the note inlet transport. The note validator is operative to sense notes which are inserted through the inlet opening for purposes of determining whether the notes are valid. The machine further includes a note outlet transport. The note outlet transport extends between the passage and the outlet opening through the housing. The machine further includes one or more drive mechanisms that are operatively connected to the inlet and outlet transports and which enable the selective movement of notes or other sheets therein.
The automated transaction machine of the described embodiment further includes a controller. The controller is in operative connection with the validator and the drive for the inlet and outlet transports. The controller is also in operative connection with the input devices as well as the validator. The controller is operative to control the machine such that in response to at least one input to the input device, notes or other sheets stored in the storage area are dispensed by the mechanism and moved through the outlet transport to the outlet opening. The controller is further operative responsive to insertion of a note or other sheet to the inlet opening to have the validator determine if the inserted note is valid. If so, the note is accepted by the receiving and dispensing mechanism and stored in the storage area.
Configurations of the automated transaction machine of the present invention may provide for both receiving notes from and dispensing notes to customers while charging and crediting appropriate accounts. Alternatively embodiments of the invention may be configured for only dispensing notes to customers who operate the machine. In such embodiments acceptance of notes is limited to personnel who are authorized to replenish the machine on behalf of the machine owner or operator. Alternative configurations of the machine may provide for the note inlet and outlet openings to be positioned on generally one side of the machine, while alternative forms of the invention may provide for such openings to be on generally opposed sides of the machine. Some forms of the invention may provide for accepting sheets into the note inlet opening one sheet at a time while others may be configured for accepting stacks of sheets which are then separated, authenticated and stored within the machine.
In some exemplary forms of the invention, the machine may be configured for separate usage by the merchant and consumer. For example, the merchant cashier may be authorized to use the merchant side interface. The cashier would be able to use a rear side of the machine which would include a cashier user interface, a note inlet opening, and a note outlet opening. The customer or consumer would be able to use the opposite or front side of the machine which would include a consumer user interface and a note outlet opening. Also, the user interfaces may be located in a portion of the machine distinct from a portion of the machine including sheet storage areas. The portions may be operatively connected for carrying out input and output functions. Such an arrangement of distinct portions provides additional security between the user interface areas and the sheet storage areas.
In some exemplary forms of the invention the note receiving and dispensing mechanism may include a roll storage type mechanism. The roll storage mechanism includes a flexible web that extends between a storage reel and a take-up reel. The storage reel and take-up reel are moved by a reel drive mechanism that enables selectively moving the reels to deliver sheets to and to receive sheets from the passage area. The storage and take-up reels in some embodiments are contained within a note storage module that is readily installed in and removed from the machine housing by authorized personnel. Certain preferred forms of the invention are highly reliable and yet relatively lower in cost to produce and operate.
Other preferred forms of the invention include a user interface with a display. The display is used for presenting promotional or other messages to users of the machine. These messages may be time sensitive and/or of limited duration. In preferred forms of the invention such messages are provided by interaction of the controller with a replaceable plug-in memory of a smart card or similar device. Various forms of user interfaces may also be provided to simplify and facilitate operation of automated transaction machines.
Referring now to the drawings and particularly
Machine 10 includes a housing 12. As used herein housing 12 refers to the external enclosure of the machine as well as the internal structures which support components of the machine therein. A user interface generally indicated 14 is supported on the housing and is accessible by a user. In the embodiment shown the user interface includes input devices and output devices. One of the input devices is a card reader 16. Card reader 16 in the machine shown is a swipe type card reader which is operative to read magnetic stripe cards 18 which are passed through the reader by customers. Cards 18 may be various types of cards such as credit or debit cards which include information for identifying the user and/or their accounts.
User interface 14 of the described embodiment also includes other input devices. These include a keypad 20 and function keys 22. Users are enabled to input data and instructions to the machine by selectively pressing the keys which make up the keypad as well as the function keys 22.
The user interface 14 further includes an output device which includes a display 24. Display 24 of the described embodiment may be a CRT or LCD type display that is operative to display messages to a user, including messages which instruct the user in operation of the machine.
It should be understood that the input devices and output devices shown are exemplary and that other embodiments of the invention may employ other types of input and output devices. These include for example other types of card readers for reading magnetic stripe or other types of cards. These may include for example motorized readers or dip readers. Other types of cards may also be employed with the machine. Such cards include so called “smart cards” which include a programmable memory with data thereon. Such data may include information about the user and their accounts. It may also include information representative of monetary value. Such value may be deducted from the memory as the card is used to make purchases. Some cards may have the value thereon periodically replenished. Other types of input devices may be used which read articles such as articles encoded with optical indicia which can be used to identify the user or their accounts. Other types of input devices may include biometric type reading devices such as fingerprint readers, retina scan devices, iris scan devices, speech recognition devices or other types of input devices which are capable of providing an input which can identify a particular user and/or their accounts.
In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, authorization and/or identification of the user of the transaction machine may be determined based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information. Hence, biometric features may be used to identify the user and/or their account. The arrangement and operation may be of the type discussed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/037,559, filed Mar. 9, 1998, entitled “Transaction Apparatus and Method that Identifies an Authorized User by Appearance and Voice”, and the disclosure of which is fully incorporated herein by reference.
The transaction machines used in the exemplary embodiments of the invention are capable of being operated, such as in the dispensing of cash, etc., based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other information. The transaction machine, such as an ATM, may be operated or activated based on the sensing of one or more features relating to a user's physical appearance, voice characteristics, biometric input, manual input, such as a user card, etc., or any combination of features thereof. A user's appearance feature, for example, may comprise the user's iris, retina, eyes, face, head, and/or upper body. A user's appearance feature may be used to determine if the appearance of the user corresponds to a particular recognized user. Iris recognition technology, such as an iris scan, may be used to recognize or verify a user.
Based on one or more of the features of the user, such as a customer or a merchant employee, the user's rights or access to transaction machine functions may be limited to specific activities other than full service machine capability. Different recognized users may have different rights. For example, some merchant side users may be permitted to operate the transaction machine only at certain times. Merchant users may be limited to withdrawing a certain amount of money over a certain amount of time and/or withdrawing a total amount of money during a specific time period. The machine may be programmed to recognize that a particular merchant user is limited to withdraw only a maximum amount of money per hour and/or withdraw only a total amount of money over a specific time period, e.g., an eight hour period. The machine may also have the capability of keeping a current record of whether any amount of money was deposited by the particular merchant user during the specific time period. Hence, the total amount of money that the particular merchant user may receive during the specific time period may be adjusted based on deposits made by that particular merchant user. Other authorized users may have more or fewer machine activity rights.
Likewise, customer users may be permitted to operate the transaction machine or have access to specific machine activities only at certain times based on their recognition by the machine. For example, certain customers may be prohibited from making cash withdrawals during a specific time period. Parents of minors, whom have been provided access to an ATM account, may desire certain security limitations pertaining to the use of the account. Security features, relating to an identified user of a specific account, may limit the total amount of cash withdrawn or transferred over a selected time period, such as a 24 hour period or a week. This arrangement permits the automatic financial supporting of an individual who may be far away, such as a college student.
The machine may also be used as a biometric sign-in device for merchant employees. The owner or operator of the establishment may use the machine as a verification tool to ensure accurate records of employee work history. The machine may be programmed to display an additional option for authorized merchant employees. The option may permit the employees to indicate that they are beginning work.
The transaction machine and the components thereof are in operative connection with a computer. The computer is connected to a data store. The data store includes data corresponding to a plurality of authorized users of the transaction machine. The user data includes for each user, identity data corresponding to the user such as a unique number, which may be a social security number or account number. The data store may include data corresponding to an appearance feature of the user, as well as voice data corresponding to a voice feature of the user. The data store may include other information, including biometric data. The data store may further include for each user, data corresponding to limitations, which may be time based, on rights or access to certain machine services.
The transaction machine may provide image records as well as data records related to transactions and other activities. The arrangement and operation may be of the types discussed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/414,290, filed Oct. 7, 1999, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/414,249, filed Oct. 7, 1999, the disclosures of which are fully incorporated herein by reference. The machine may capture images and enable images and data to be stored, remotely accessed, and selectively processed and analyzed. The transaction machine may have one or more cameras or other image capture devices adjacent thereto. As will be appreciated, a number of cameras may be positioned adjacent to the machine by being within and/or near to the machine for purposes of capturing image data related to users, documents, surroundings, or other types of visual inputs that may be desirable to capture and analyze. One or more cameras may be operatively connected to a device that may receive and capture image data therefrom. It should be understood that additional types of data capture devices may also be included adjacent to or within the machine.
Data, such as image data relating to a user's appearance feature, may be arranged to be automatically updated after a certain time period to replace older feature data. One or more processors may be used in the updating. For example, a current user's appearance may be recognized, captured, and then used to update and replace the older version of the user's appearance data. Additionally, the machine may output audio messages to a user requesting that the user move or reposition their appearance in a certain direction to enable the machine to capture a desired quality, feature, or angle of appearance image. Furthermore, appearance data and/or audio data and/or other biometric information may be used to recognize the user prior to updating another data feature. For example, the user's voice and/or biometric information may be used to recognize the user prior to the machine updating the user's appearance data. Also, the user's appearance and/or biometric information may be used to recognize the user prior to the machine updating the user's audio data. Alternatively, if the user cannot be recognized or verified with a sufficient degree of reliability from the appearance data and/or audio data and/or other biometric information, the customer may be prompted to input identifying data, such as a card and/or PIN, through manually actuated devices on the machine, such as a card reader and/or keyboard. After the user is verified, then the user's appearance data and/or voice data may be captured, and the user's data file updated with the user's current appearance data and/or voice data.
One or more microphones may be arranged for capturing sound or voice information, as well as devices which capture data related to transactions. Embodiments of the present invention can use voice recognition software to detect sounds from a microphone representative of words or the stress levels of sounds emanating from persons near the machine. Such voice or sound data may be used in combination with images or other data to further detect and evaluate conditions at or near the machine. The machine may detect stress in a particular user's voice, such as a store manager, and send signals to devices to enhance video monitoring, surveillance monitoring, and/or notification of authorities. The detection of certain words or voice stress levels by the machine may require a user to provide additional input information or reply to certain messages provided by the machine. The user may be denied access to the machine.
In a merchant user operation of the transaction machine, the merchant user may approach the machine and have their presence sensed. The machine generates image input signals based on the merchant user's appearance feature and/or audio input signals based on the merchant user's voice feature. A computer or other processor may operate, based on the signals and the information in the data store, to determine if the appearance of the merchant user corresponds to a particular recognized user. The computer may operate based on the audio input signals to determine if the voice of the merchant user corresponds to a particular recognized user. The computer may determine, based on the visual data alone, or the audio data alone, or both the visual data and the audio data, whether the merchant user at the machine is one (and only one) recognized user. If the appearance and/or voice data corresponds to the user, then the user is enabled to operate the transaction function devices which correspond to the user's rights data. Alternatively, other biometric information may be used to verify a recognized user. Alternatively, if the user cannot be verified with a sufficient degree of reliability from the appearance data and/or audio data and/or other biometric information, the customer may be prompted to input identifying data, such as a card and/or PIN, through manually actuated devices on the machine, such as a card reader and/or keyboard. Furthermore, manual input of identifying data may be required together with the input of appearance data and/or audio data and/or other biometric data to provide a higher degree of security.
The keypad and function keys which serve as input devices in the described exemplary embodiment may be replaced in other embodiments by other types of devices which are capable of selectively receiving data or instructions from a user. Other types of output devices may also be used. These may include other types of visual and nonvisual output devices which are capable of communicating a message to a user and which can instruct the user in the operation of the machine. Of course when automated transaction machines of the invention are incorporated with other devices which carry out other functions, other types of input devices associated with carrying out those other functions may also be included. These may include for example switching and control devices for controlling the dispense of motor fuel when the machine of the invention is incorporated with a motor fuel dispensing device. The particular additional devices will depend on the environment in which the invention is used.
Returning to the description of the machine 10 shown in
The machine 10 further includes a note inlet opening 30. Note inlet 30 is used for inserting notes or other types of sheets into the machine for storage. As indicated in phantom, in some embodiments the note inlet opening 30 may be rendered inaccessible by a movable cover 32. The cover 32 is selectively secured by a suitable locking mechanism 34. The cover may be used in circumstances where the machine operator only wants selected authorized personnel to be able to insert notes for storage in the machine. This may be the case when the machine operator wants users to use the machine only as a cash dispenser. In some embodiments the cover may provide a note supporting surface or include a note holding structure such as a pocket to facilitate holding dispensed notes for the user of the machine when the cover is in position.
As shown in
The interior area of the machine includes various components which are shown schematically. Such components may include for example a note storage module 44. As later described in detail the note storage module 44 includes a note storage area for holding notes within the machine. The note storage module 44 is readily removable and installed in the machine once the access door 40 is in the open position. Other components within the housing of the machine may include a journal device 46. The journal device 46 may be for example a journal printer which makes a permanent hard copy record of transactions which are carried out by the machine. Other devices within the interior of the machine may include a communications device 48. The communications device may be for example a modem, wireless transmitter, lease line interface connection or other suitable device for communicating with other computers to carry out transactions with the machine. These other computers may include for example computers in credit and/or debit card networks which are capable of handling transaction messages and settling accounts between users, sources of monetary value and the operator of the machine. Another device shown schematically in the interior of the machine in
As shown in
The note storage module of the described embodiment includes thereon a reel drive mechanism 72. The reel drive mechanism is operative in a manner later discussed to selectively drive the storage reel 66 or the take-up reel 68.
The note storage module 44 also includes therein an actuator 74. The actuator is in operative connection with a movable locking member 76. The locking member 76 is movable by the actuator 74 between a position in which rotational movement of the storage reel is enabled and a position in which the locking member holds the rotatable storage reel in relatively fixed position with respect to the note storage module 44. This is accomplished in the locking position of the locking member by engaging cooperating projections and recesses schematically indicated 78 on the locking member and the storage reel.
The actuator 74 is electrically connected with the controller 52 through a releasible connector 80. The controller 52 serves as an electrical signal source which operates the actuator generally to enable the storage reel 66 to move when it is properly positioned within the machine. When the note storage module is positioned in the machine and the releasible connector 80 connects the actuator 74 to the electrical signal source, the projections and recesses of the locking member and reel are disengaged enabling the reel to move. This feature aids in securing the note storage reel which serves as a note storage area, in fixed position relative to the module when the note storage module is removed from the machine. This makes it more difficult for unauthorized persons to extract the note from the note storage module after it has been removed from the machine.
The note storage module 44 is supported in the machine by tab portions 82. Tab portions 82 include semicircular openings or slots 84 (see
The openings 84 in the tab portions 82 extend in generally planar members and are bounded by a surface 88 which serves as an arcuately shaped generally u-shaped projection. The u-shaped projecting surface 88 is positioned to extend in generally annular recesses or slots 90 which extend about the cylindrical support members 86. The interfitting engagement of the u-shaped projections and the annular recesses enables positioning the note storage module 44 in the proper position within the housing of the machine. It further enables engaging and disengaging the tab portions and the cylindrical support members from the engaged and disengaged positions by moving the note storage module along the direction of arrow I shown in
In the described form of the invention the cylindrical support members 86 also serve as supporting members for the construction of the structure surrounding the note storage module within the machine. Members 86 include threaded openings in each end to facilitate their engagement to other components. The positioning of the annular recesses 90 in the cylindrical support members are also asymmetrical to facilitate the proper positioning of the note storage module. During assembly of the machine the proper positioning of the cylindrical support members is assured by having the threaded openings in each end of the support members of a different size and/or thread configuration. This construction along with the mating fasteners which are used to hold the machine components together assure that the cylindrical support members are installed properly during assembly. Of course the construction of the supporting structure and removable note storage module is exemplary and in other embodiments other suitable structures and assembly methods may be used. This includes using a configuration for positioning the storage module which is generally the reverse of that shown in
The note handling mechanism shown in
As shown in
A transport drive 100 is operatively connected to the inlet and outlet transports 96 and 98 respectively. The note inlet and outlet transports are shown in further detail in
The note inlet transport in the described embodiment includes note validator 58. In the described embodiment note validator 58 is a standard commercially available note acceptor which is operative to sense and determine the validity of certain types of bills. In the case of a machine which is configured to receive and dispense twenty dollar bills, the validator may be a device for sensing whether an inserted note is a valid twenty dollar bill. The validator 58 includes therein or has adjacent thereto a generally nonslip portion 106 of the note inlet transport 98. Portion 106 is operative to engage and move notes inserted through the note inlet opening 30 past the validator. The generally nonslip portion 106 is operative to move notes past the sensing mechanisms within the validator 58 as required for sensing the note and determining its validity for purposes of receipt within the machine. If an inserted note is determined not to be valid or otherwise not suitable for acceptance within the machine, the nonslip portion 106 after moving the note inward into the validator is operative to move it outward back through the note inlet opening 30. This is done by the validator operating based on its internal programning or in alternative embodiments operating in cooperating relation with the controller 52.
If a note inserted through the note inlet opening 30 is sensed as valid and acceptable by the validator 58, the nonslip portion 106 of note inlet transport 98 is operative to release the note to a limited slip portion 108 of the note transport 98. Limited slip portion 108 includes a belt 10 and idler rolls 112. The belt 110 and idler rolls 112 serve as limited slip engaging members which engage notes passing inward from the validator 58. However, the limited slip portion 108 is not operative to apply sufficient force to a note to remove it from engagement with the nonslip portion 106, until the nonslip portion disengages the note. This enables the validator 58 of the described embodiment to move the note sufficiently rearward so that it can engage the limited slip engaging members 110, 112 and still enable the nonslip portion to reverse the direction of the note so that it can be delivered back out through the note inlet opening in the event that the note is determined to be invalid. This feature enables standard commercially available, compact size note validators to be used in the embodiment shown.
While the note inlet transport 98 shown in the described embodiment has a generally nonslip portion and a limited slip portion, other embodiments of the invention may not include such portions depending on the type of validator used. An example of such an embodiment is later described in detail. In addition although the generally nonslip portion is shown as a plurality of cooperating rolls and the limited slip portion 108 is shown as a belt and roll transport, other embodiments of the invention may include other types of cooperating moving members that are operative to move sheets in the desired fashion.
A gate 114 is positioned adjacent to the passage area 92. Gate 114 is operative to selectively direct sheets and enable the passage of sheets relative to the note inlet transport and note outlet transport. As shown in greater detail in
A guide 120 extends adjacent to the gate 114 generally between the note inlet and outlet transports. The guide includes rotatable guide rolls 122 in supporting connection therewith. Guide roll 122 is generally engaged with belt 110 and rotates therewith. The guide 120 and guide rolls 122 further aid in guiding sheets through the passage area in a manner later discussed. The passage area is also bounded on an opposed side of the guide by a separating member 124. The separating member also later described in detail, engages the surface of belt 110 which serves as an arcuately shaped moving member in an area overlying belt supporting roll 126. The separating member 124 also engages on an opposed side, the web 70 in an area overlying a supporting roll 128 which is supported on the note storage module 44. The web 70 serves as a arcuately shaped moving member when it moves over the roll 28 in engagement with the separating member 124.
As shown in
When the note outlet transport is driven to move notes outwardly from the passage area 92, belt 102 is driven in the direction indicated by the Arrow O. This causes the lead surface 118 of the gate member 116 to move downward until the gate member is engaged with the stop 140 which limits its counterclockwise rotation. Because in this position belt 110 is moved in the direction of Arrow N, notes moving through the passage area 92 are engaged by the lead surface 118 in the directing position and moved in connection therewith to engage the outward moving belt 102. The outward moving belt continues to run for as long as it is controlled to do so in response to the controller. However once the gate member 116 is against the stop the slipping member 132 slips relative to at least one of the pulley portions 134 and 136. This causes the gate member to be held in the directing position but does not result in further movement nor damage to any of the components.
As can be appreciated from
While in this described embodiment of the invention the gate 114 includes a gate member that is moved by the same drive mechanism as the belt, in other embodiments other gate moving mechanisms including separate actuators may be used. Alternatively embodiments of the invention may employ passive gate members which enable passage of the notes inwardly by deflection or translational movement of the gate member in connection with the notes. Such passive gate members may through their configuration engage outwardly moving notes and direct them to engage appropriate mechanisms for moving the notes outward. Various arrangements of gate members and sheet moving members may be used in embodiments of the invention. It should further be understood that while single belts have been described herein as moving sheets in the inlet and outlet transports, preferred embodiments of the invention may include a plurality of parallel moving belts, rolls or other note moving mechanisms which are operative to move the notes in the described directions.
The note storage module 44 includes an inner wall 146. The opening 94 extends through the inner wall. The opening is bounded on each transverse side by an ear portion 148. Each ear portion 148 includes a generally vertically extending slot 150. A cutout portion 152 extends through the ear portion to the slot. The separating member 124 includes a pair of outward extending projections 154 which are sized to be movable in the slot 150. The projections 154 also enable the separating member 124 to be rotatably movable relative to the note storage module 44. The separating member also includes an eye 156. Eye 156 is engaged by a biasing member 158. The biasing member operates to bias the separating member 124 generally in a downward direction as shown.
When the note storage module 44 is installed in the housing of the machine, the separating member 124 is moved to a position in which a first end of the separating member engages belts 110 overlying roll 126. Also in the operative position, the opposed end of separating member 124 engages the web 70 overlying roll 128. In this way the separating member 124 engages at its opposed ends arcuately shaped moving members which move sheets in supporting connection therewith. The separating member of the exemplary embodiment is configured to ride on the moving members and to engage sheets which are supported thereon. The engagement of the separating member with the sheets on the moving members serves to separate the sheets and direct them generally along the note plane 142 through the note passage. The separating member 124 minimizes the risks that notes will be carried by the supporting belt or web underneath the separating member where they may jam or otherwise disrupt the operation of the mechanism. The floating character of the separating member facilitates its ability to properly position itself both vertically and rotationally in the mechanism when the note storage module is in its operative position. Thus the separating member is enabled to correct for minor misalignments and still perform its function by engaging the arcuately shaped moving members on either side. In addition the configuration of the slot 150 and cutout area 152 facilitate the ready replacement of the separating member. This is accomplished because the projections 154 may be moved through the cutout area. Also the biasing member 158 may be readily disconnected from the eye 156. Thus the removal of an existing separating member and installation of a new one is readily accomplished.
It should be understood that while in the described embodiment the projections are associated with the separating member and the slots are associated with the supporting housing structure, other embodiments may have these features reversed such that the projections are associated with the supporting housing and the slots associated with the separating member. Also in other embodiments intermediate or additional structures may be used.
As best shown in
The separating member includes an edge portion 162. The edge portion 162 engages the web at a location indicated 164. A deflector surface 166 extends from location 164 toward the passage. The deflector surface is positioned to extend generally parallel to the web 70 in the area between the location where the web joins the storage reel and the passage area.
A movable member 168 engages the web 70 in generally overlying relation of the roll 128. The movable member 168 engages inward moving notes so that they can be guided by the deflector surface into a nip 170 generally in the area where the web joins the stored web material on the storage reel 66. Likewise the movable member 168 serves to engage sheets that are separated from the web by the separating member 160 and to move the sheets outward through the passage area.
The separating member 160 is rotatable relative to the housing about an axis generally indicated 172. The separating member 160 is biased to rotate in a clockwise direction as shown about the axis 172 by a biasing member 174. The reel 66 rotates relative to the housing and note storage module about an axis of rotation indicated 176. In the described form of the invention the axis 172 about which the separating member rotates, is angularly disposed relative to the axis 176 about which the storage reel rotates from the nip at a substantial angle of generally about at least 90 degrees. This configuration enables providing relatively controlled angular movement of the edge portion at the location as the amount of web material stored on the storage reel changes during operation of the machine. This relatively limited movement assures more reliable separation and guidance of notes from and onto supporting connection with the storage reel. The configuration further minimizes the wearing of the web material by maintaining desirable relative positions of the edge portion 162 and to the web.
As shown in
As later discussed in detail the note storage module 44 of the described embodiment includes a note receiving and dispensing mechanism generally referred to as 77 in
The transport mechanisms described herein while useful are exemplary of but one of many types of mechanisms that may be used. The note storage module 44 of the described embodiment is useful because the module construction may be used with many types of such transport mechanisms including very low cost mechanisms that are suited for installations in machines that perform other types of primary functions. This includes the ability to retrofit cash dispensing capability to such machines by providing suitable mechanisms to connect the passage area and one or more outlets which may be accessed by a customer. In addition the note storage module 44 may be readily removed by authorized personnel from an interior area of the machine. Thus for example in a motor fuel dispensing application, a system operator may readily remove the module 44 from the fuel dispensing pumps during off hours and store such items in a secure location. The removal and reinstallation of such items can be accomplished quickly to minimize the actions required to be taken by personnel in the facility.
The operation of the note receiving and dispensing mechanism within the note storage module 44 is controlled through operation of the reel drive mechanism 72. The reel drive mechanism is operative to control selectively the rotation of the note storage reel 66 and the take-up reel 68. By controlling the rotation of the reels notes may be brought into supporting connection with the web 70 and stored on the note storage reel. Likewise by controlling the rotation of the reels notes stored on the storage reel may be delivered to the passage area.
The reel drive mechanism 72 of the exemplary embodiment includes a motor or other drive indicated 178. The operation of the drive and its direction of rotation is controllable in response to signals from the controller 52 when the note storage module 44 is installed in the machine. The drive 178 is operative as shown in
The first drive member is operative to rotate a second drive member 182. In the described embodiment the second drive member is rotatably connected to the transmission member 184, and the transmission member is rotatable about the axis of rotation 179 of the first drive member 180. The second drive member rotates about an axis of rotation 185 which is movable with the transmission member. Of course in other embodiments other drive arrangements may be used.
As schematically indicated in
As shown in
As shown in
The operation of the drag mechanisms on the transmission member as well as on the second drive member help to assure that the first drive member remains in positive engagement with the desired drive surface of the reels during movement thereof. Also referring to
To facilitate the controlled rotational movement of the storage reel 66 and the take-up reel 68, a controlled drag applying mechanism is included in the note storage module 44. An exemplary form of this drag applying mechanism is schematically shown in
The directional drag applying member 196 includes a band portion 202. The band portion 202 extends generally in engagement with the annular brake surface 194 of the storage reel. The directional drag applying member 196 further includes an extendable portion schematically indicated 204. Extendable portion 204 includes a resilient biasing portion that is extendable in the direction of Arrow E as shown in
During operation of the reel drive mechanism 72, the storage reel 66 is rotated in a clockwise direction when it is desired to move the web 70 in a sheet receiving direction such that the web and notes supported thereon are wound onto the storage reel. When the storage reel 66 is moved in a clockwise direction the extendable portion 204 tends to expand in the direction of Arrow E responsive to the force applied to the band portion 202 by the relative movement of the annular brake surface 194. This enables the storage reel 66 to rotate in a clockwise direction relatively easily responsive to the force applied by the extendable portion 204. However when the storage reel 66 is rotated responsive to movement of the web 70 in a counterclockwise direction which corresponds to the web moving in a sheet dispensing direction, the resistance to movement of the storage reel is relatively higher. This is because the tension in the band portion 202 is higher due to a lack of an extendable portion between the band portion and the first end 198. As a result the tension in the band portion is maintained relatively higher as the storage reel is moved in the counterclockwise direction. This provides a relatively higher drag force on the storage reel which minimizes the risk of overrunning.
A similar but oppositely disposed structure is used for applying drag force to take-up reel 68 in this exemplary embodiment. The take-up reel, which as previously discussed in this embodiment is identical to the storage reel, includes an annular brake surface 206 thereon. A directional drag applying member 208 includes a band portion 210 that engages the annular brake surface 206 about an angle of generally more than 180 degrees. The directional drag applying member is generally fixed relative to the housing at a first end 212 and a second end 214. The directional drag applying member 208 includes an extendable portion 216 adjacent the second end 214. Extendable portion 216 is expandable in an extendable direction generally indicated by Arrow X.
In operation of the reel drive mechanism 72 when the take-up reel 68 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction which moves the web 70 in a sheet dispensing direction, the extendable portion 216 of the drag applying member 208 expands to apply relatively lower resistance to movement of the take-up reel 68. However when the take-up reel 68 is moved in a clockwise direction responsive to the web moving in a sheet receiving direction, a relatively higher drag force is applied to the take-up reel.
As a result of the directional drag applying mechanism of the described embodiment, the drag force on the reel being driven by the second drive member 182 is relatively lower. This reduces the amount of force that the reel drive mechanism must produce to move the take-up and storage reels. This is useful compared to systems where drag applying members act equally on storage reels regardless of the direction in which they are moved.
Referring again to
Transversely outward of the sheet engaging area 224 are a pair of peripheral areas 226 and 228. The peripheral areas extend transversely on either side of the web adjacent the transverse edges thereof. The peripheral areas 226 and 228 include machine readable indicia 230 thereon. In the described form of the invention the machine readable indicia is indicia on the web that serves to block the transmission of radiation therethrough. This blocking of radiation is sensed by the sensor 222. Of course in other embodiments other types of indicia which can be sensed or read by a sensing device may be used.
As previously discussed, the opposed ends of the web are connected to the take-up reel and the storage reel respectively. In the described embodiment the machine readable indicia are configured so as to correspond to a location on the web relative to an end. In the described embodiment the machine readable indicia are symmetrical on the web and are configured such that the spacing between adjacent indicia decreases with proximity to each end. This construction in the described embodiment enables the installation of the web in any of four possible orientations. Thus a person replacing the web need not be concerned that it could be installed improperly. This is because of the symmetry of the machine readable indicia in the peripheral areas as well as the decreasing spacing between the machine readable indicia with proximity to the end.
In operation of the machine, the sensor 222 is operative to cause the controller to include data in the data store representative of the location for the machine readable indicia which is in proximity to the sensor 222. In the described embodiment this data may include data corresponding to a count of a number of machine readable indicia which have moved past the sensor from a reference position located adjacent to a first end of the web at a first end area adjacent to the take-up reel. By holding this data which corresponds to a count, the controller may be operative to determine the relative position of the web with respect to the ends thereof. In addition or in the alternative, the controller may also hold data representative of a count of the sheets which are currently stored in supporting connection with the storage reel. This number of sheets may be correlated with the location indicia such that the controller coordinates the location information provided by the indicia with data corresponding to the number of notes in storage.
Alternatively, the decrease in spacing of the indicia with proximity to the ends of the web enables the controller in the described embodiment to detect a condition which suggests that the web is approaching the first end or the second end. This enables the controller to provide a signal through the communications device or through another output device to indicate that the machine is either reaching a condition where it can hold no further notes or is approaching a condition where it is running out of notes. For example the web must move at least a distance somewhat greater than the length of a note in the dispense of one sheet. If in moving the web this distance during the dispensing of a sheet the sensor 222 senses passage of more than a set number of indicia on the web, the controller may determine that the web is approaching the second end which means that few notes are left on the storage reel. By the number of machine readable indicia which pass the sensor in the dispense of one note or sheet the controller knows generally accurately how close the web now is to reaching the end area when no further notes are stored on the storage reel.
Likewise when operating to receive a note, the reel drive mechanism moves the web a length that is generally slightly greater than the length of one note. If in the process of accepting a note the sensor 222 senses more than a set number of machine readable indicia passing the sensor, the controller may determine that the web is approaching the first end at which point no further web material is stored on the take-up reel. By the number of machine readable indica passing the sensor with the receipt of a note, the controller is operative to determine relatively accurately the position of the web. This enables the controller and its operatively connected memory to determine and indicate quantity condition data which is indicative of a need to replenish the machine, that the machine is full and/or some notes will need to be removed from the machine within a given time period. The machine is still capable of accomplishing this even if the portion of the memory which may be holding information corresponding to an exact location of the web should be lost or corrupted.
An example of how one exemplary embodiment of the invention may operate to dispense sheets and to maintain a count of the number of sheets remaining is discussed in connection with
As shown in
The reel drive mechanism moves the web 70 in the note dispensing direction until the end of the sheet is sensed passing the passage sensor 232. The sheet passing the passage sensor is carried by the outlet transport 96 to the outlet opening 28 where it is delivered to the customer. This is represented by a note 234. The note at the outlet opening may be held in a tray or by other suitable holding devices until taken by the customer. Alternatively a suitable sensor adjacent to the outlet which is connected to the controller may operate to hold the sheet in connection with the outlet transport in a stopped relation until the customer physically pulls it from the opening. Various approaches to delivering the sheets may be used depending on the nature and character of the transaction machine.
Additional sheets beyond one may be delivered. The controller 52 operates the reel drive mechanism to dispense additional sheets through the passage area and to deliver them through the outlet transport to the customer. When the desired number of sheets has been dispensed which corresponds to the input from the user, the controller operates to stop both the reel drive mechanism and the outlet transport.
In the course of dispensing sheets from the storage reel the passage sensor senses each sheet. The passage sensor may be a radiation type sensor that is capable of sensing both the leading and trailing edges of the sheet. Of course in other embodiments of the invention other types of passage sensors may be used. As the web 70 moves to deliver one or more sheets to the passage area the web sensor 222 provides signals to the controller 52. In response to the sensing of the machine readable indicia by the sensor 222 the controller generates signals. These signals include data representative of sheet quantities. This may include for example in some embodiments a simple count which corresponds to a length of web remaining on the storage reel. Because the notes are generally spaced at a uniform spacing this count data is representative of a quantity of sheets remaining. This data can be stored in the memory 56 as a quantity condition which corresponds to the number of sheets remaining.
Alternatively in embodiments of the invention the sensor 222 may be operative to sense the number of indicia which pass the sensor as a sheet is moved through the passage area as sensed by the sensor 232. The number of indicia which pass the sensor 222 as a single note is dispensed can be correlated with the distance of the location adjacent the sensor to the end of the web. The controller is operative responsive to the sensor sensing more than a determined number of such indicia during the dispense of a single note and may be programmed to store and provide an indication of a quantity condition which indicates that the machine is in need of note replenishment.
In addition to using the machine readable indicia on the web to provide data representative of the quantity of notes remaining, the controller 52 may also be operative to cause actual count data or data representative of a value to be stored in memory 56. In this way the controller may be operative to maintain information on how many notes remain stored in the machine at any time. This may enable a user to query the controller to determine the number of remaining notes.
In the event that the described form of the controller should experience a failure of the volatile memory data concerning the number of notes remaining, the controller may operate the machine to execute a recovery operation to determine how many notes are remaining. The executable steps necessary to perform this recovery operation may be stored in nonvolatile memory so that the machine can almost always execute the recovery operation no matter what conditions are experienced. In the recovery operation the controller responds to a loss of available memory data by operating the reel drive mechanism to wind the web 70 onto the storage reel 66. The reel drive mechanism continues to wind the web onto the storage reel until a first end area adjacent the end of the web attached to the take-up reel is sensed. This may be done a number of ways, for example by the sensor 222 sensing a set number of machine readable indicia on the web within a given time period which the controller determines through use of the clock device 54.
Once the controller has determined that the web has been wound onto the storage reel to generally the full extent, the controller operates the reel drive mechanism to begin moving the web from the storage reel to the take-up reel. As the reel drive mechanism is operated by the controller to do this the controller generates signals responsive to indicia sensed by the web sensor 222. These signals are indicative of how far the web has moved at any given time. The process of winding the web onto the take-up reel is stopped when the passage sensor 232 senses the first note entering the first passage 92. At this point the controller 52 is operative to generate a further signal which corresponds to the location on the web where first sheet is sensed. Because the sheets are generally stored in relatively uniformly spaced relation, the further signal generated is indicative of a number of sheets that remain in supporting connection with the web on the storage reel. This enables the controller to closely determine how many sheets remain in storage; Further operation of the machine dispensing and receiving sheets may thereafter be continued using the data corresponding to the sheet quantity determined through the recovery operation. Of course this is but one example of operation of the machine used in connection with a described embodiment. In other embodiments other approaches to calculating and determining the number of sheets in storage at any given time may be used.
The operation of the machine to receive a note is now explained with reference to
When notes are to be accepted a note is inserted through the inlet opening 30 to the inlet transport 98. In the inlet transport 98 the note first extends in the nonslip portion 106 of the inlet transport which extends adjacent to the validator 58. The validator includes sensors therein for sensing if the inserted note is a note that is valid for acceptance by the machine. For example in this embodiment the validator may be configured to accept only US twenty dollar bills and to reject all other inserted sheets as invalid for this machine. The controller 52 operates in connection with the validator 58, and a sheet schematically represented 236 is moved therein by the nonslip portion 106. As represented in
Because in the described embodiment the limited slip portion 108 and the outlet transport 96 are operated by a common drive mechanism, movement of the limited slip portion in the direction indicated also causes the outlet transport to move in a manner which causes the gate 114 to be rotated to the note accepting position. As a result the note 236 is moved to the passage area 92 as shown in
The controller is operative responsive to the note being sensed by the passage sensor to operate the reel drive mechanism. The controller is operative to cause the web 70 to move in the note accepting direction as shown in
While in this first described embodiment the nonslip drive portion adjacent the validator sensors 58 is operative to immediately push out notes that are sensed as not valid, alternative forms of the invention may be programmed to operate differently. For example a controller 52 may be programmed to move a note in the inlet transport past the validator. If the validator senses an invalid note, the note may be stopped at the passage area once the trailing edge of the note has passed the gate 114. The controller may thereafter operate to reverse the direction of the transports 96 and 98 which causes the gate to direct the note outward through the outlet opening. The controller 52 may operate both the inlet and outlet transports as well as the roll storage mechanism to accomplish this. This may include for example causing the invalid note to be stored partially or temporarily in supporting connection with the web 70 before the direction of the note is reversed to deliver the note outward. These are examples and other embodiments of the invention may operate differently to reject notes.
Alternative forms of the invention may be produced to accommodate other types of validating mechanisms.
If the note is sensed as valid it may be moved by a transport 242 past a gate 248 and into a storage location on the storage reel 250. Likewise when the note is to be dispensed from the storage reel, a web 254 which holds the notes in supporting connection with the storage reel may move the note into the passage area 244. The gate 248 is moved by an actuator (not shown) to direct the note to engage the transport 242. The transport 242 then operates in a direction to carry the note from the passage area to a note outlet adjacent the end of the transport 242.
If the controller of the mechanism 238 is operating to sense notes being input into the machine and the sensors 246 operate to sense an invalid note, the transport 242 may be reversed immediately to reject the note. Alternatively if it is not desired to reject the note through the exterior of the machine, the note may be moved by the transport 242 into the passage area 244. The note may also be moved partially onto the web 254 as is necessary in the operation of the machine. Thereafter, after the note has been moved to the storage area, the position of the gate 248 may be changed and the controller may operate a reject transport 256. The reject transport is operated to move the note inward to a storage area 258 inside the housing of the machine. As a result suspect notes are held within the housing of the machine until they can be removed by authorized personnel.
An advantage of the described embodiment of the invention shown in connection with mechanism 238 is that a single transport can be used as both the inlet and the outlet transport for notes. This may have advantages in some embodiments in which the validity of notes may be determined within a single note path which moves selectively in opposed directions.
An alternative note handling mechanism generally indicated 260 is shown in
The operation of the mechanism 260 is generally similar to the first described embodiment of the invention. However an advantage of the construction shown in
Yet another embodiment of a note handling mechanism generally designated 276 is shown in
The note handling mechanism includes an outlet transport 278 which extends between a passage area 280 and a note outlet opening 282. A gate 284 is positioned adjacent to the passage area 280 and operates in the manner previously described. An inlet transport 286 includes a first portion 288 which extends adjacent to a validator 290. A second transport portion 292 extends between the validator and the passage area 280.
The note separating mechanism generally indicated 294 is positioned generally adjacent to the validator. The note separating mechanism is operative to separate notes individually from a stack 296 and deliver the individual notes to the validator 290. A note thickness sensor 298 is positioned adjacent to the unstack mechanism. The note thickness sensor 298 operates to sense if more than one note has been removed from the stack. In the event that more than one note is sensed as passing from the stack toward the validator, the controller is operative to cause the note separating mechanism 294 to reverse the movement of the note. The note is moved back into the stack and another attempt made until a single note is separated as sensed by the thickness sensors and delivered to the validator.
An exemplary separating mechanism is shown schematically in
A contact stripper roll 306 and a pair of non-contact stripper rolls 308 are positioned in generally opposed abutting arrangement with feed rolls 300 and 302. Rolls 306 and 308 are connected on a common shaft to a one-way clutch 310. The one-way clutch is operative to resist rotation of rolls 306 and 308 in a direction which would facilitate the movement of sheets from the stack towards the validator. However the clutch 310 readily enables the rolls 306 and 308 to rotate in a direction generally moving sheets away from the validator towards the stack. When the drive 304 moves rolls 300 and 302 to move a sheet at the bottom of the stack 296 towards the validator, both rolls 306 and 308 resist motion of the sheet. This generally prevents all but the first sheet at the bottom of the stack from moving past the sensors 298 to the drive portion 288 adjacent the validator 290. If however multiple sheets are sensed by the sensors 298 as being passed out of the stack, the controller operates to reverse the direction of drive 304. In this situation rolls 306, 308, 300 and 302 cooperate to readily help move the sheets back into the stack.
As shown in
Alternative forms of user interfaces may be provided for use in connection with embodiments of the invention. Such an alternative embodiment is shown in
Assuming that the customer removes their card from the reader 318 when a sixty dollar amount is displayed, a withdrawal screen generally indicated 328 and shown in
An advantage of this exemplary user interface is that it can be used with machines that dispense cash in response to credit card inputs and requires no further input devices other than a cancel button and a dip reader. Such components are very common on many types of transaction machines whose primary function is not the dispensing of cash. This interface facilitates incorporating the note dispensing mechanism of the present invention into other types of transaction machines. In addition other embodiments may eliminate the cancel button by enabling the customer to cancel the transaction by removing the card at a time when a particular screen is displayed. Many alternative embodiments employing these principles may be devised.
A further novel aspect of the described embodiment of the invention is the ability of the machine to display selected promotional messages to the customer on a timely basis. Such a promotional message is shown in screen 330 and indicates a sale on a beverage item. In an exemplary embodiment of the invention this promotional message is generated in response to the data stored on the plug in memory 38 which is connected to the connector 36 on the housing. The data stored in the plug in memory which in the described form of the invention is a smart card, includes a promotional message as well as time parameters associated with the promotional message. Thus for example if the special offer represented in screen 330 is to extend only until a certain date, the controller and its associated clock device are operative to sense the passage of this date and to no longer display the particular promotional message once this date has passed. For example if the operator of the machine fails to remove the plug in memory and the controller determines that the message is no longer timely, screen 330 may include only a blank space or a blank area below the “please wait” notice on the screen while the machine is operating to obtain verification and to dispense the user's cash.
Likewise other data may be stored in the plug in memory module so that particular promotional messages are displayed at particular times of day or within particular time periods. The plug in memory module may also include several promotional messages which are designed to be displayed at various times or sequentially to users of the machine. Alternatively the data stored in the plug in memory module may include public service messages such as promoting various charitable organizations and events. The data stored in the plug in memory may also be operative to generate graphical presentations as well as other types of video and audio presentations that may be of interest to a user. Other data stored in the memory module may include for example logos or other advertising for the establishment where the automated transaction machine is operated.
Because the exemplary form of the invention enables the presentation of promotional messages selectively by simply plugging a smart card into an associated connector, the promotional messages may be changed readily from outside the machine and very cheaply. For example the merchandising establishment or entities sponsoring promotional events may provide promotional messages on smart cards to operators of the machine. The operators of the machines may plug the cards into the machine and during the selected time windows for presentations of the messages, the messages will be displayed. At times when the memory indicates that such messages are not to be displayed, screens including the messages are not provided to users of the machine. Thus the providers of promotional messages are able to avoid their promotions being presented beyond the expiration date or at other times when it is not appropriate.
Of course the automated transaction machine may be operative to output such promotional messages at other times during its operation. This may include for example periodically displaying promotional messages in place of the initial screen. This may include for example alternating a promotional message with the initial screen 316 during relatively brief time periods such as a period of five seconds. In this way a user walking up to the machine will be advised in a very brief period of time how to operate the machine. However such a user will also receive at least one and perhaps several promotional messages before they proceed to insert their card into the reader 318. In this way the described form of the invention enables operators of the machines to conduct additional marketing relatively simply and reliably and at a minimum cost.
It should be understood that while in the exemplary embodiment the plug in memory element includes a smart card, other embodiments may include other types of plug in memory devices. These may include for example floppy disks, PROMS, CD-ROMs or other devices. It should further be understood that access to such replaceable memory items may be limited by a cover, such as for example the cover for the note inlet opening previously discussed. In this way access to the connector or reader for the plug in memory is limited to persons who are authorized to change the plug in memory. However, such persons do not need to have access to the note storage area inside the machine to change the plug in memory.
An exemplary embodiment of the invention is shown in
The automated transaction machine apparatus may be used in numerous establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, stores, casinos, and amusement parks. The machine would be useful in any location where cash transactions occur. Furthermore, the machine has the benefits of both a safe and an automated transaction machine. An authorized merchant person, perhaps an employee or owner, may safeguard excess cash in the machine as needed. An authorized merchant person, perhaps a cashier, may also remove cash from the machine as needed for business operations. The machine also permits replenishing of sheets by the merchant when needed, thereby avoiding the expenses of paying a third party to carry out cash replenishment. Additionally, consumers may use the machine to withdraw cash as needed.
As appreciated from
The lower portion of the exemplary automated transaction machine comprises a chest portion 334. The chest portion includes a first side 338 or merchant side, and a second side 340 or consumer side. The merchant side of the chest portion includes a sheet inlet opening 342 and a first sheet outlet opening 344. The consumer side of the chest portion includes a second sheet outlet opening 346. Pockets 376, 378 for retaining the dispensed sheets may be provided adjacent to the outlet openings. The chest portion further comprises sheet storage areas 348, 350. Additionally, the chest portion may comprise one or more access doors, including locking mechanisms, providing access to the sheet storage areas. The sheet storage areas, for example, may be used to store different denominations of currency notes. The notes are stored in the lower portion of the automated transaction machine. The notes may be either new or used. Hence, the automated transaction machine of
The lower portion of the automated transaction machine may also incorporate additional features, as previously discussed in detail in relation to other embodiments. For example, the chest portion may include a connector 36 operative to releasibly receive a plug-in memory element 38 or other memory. The chest may also house a journal device 46, a communications device 48 and other devices as previously discussed in detail in relation to
The upper portion of the exemplary automated transaction machine comprises a distinct enclosure portion or top hat 336. The top hat is in supporting connection with the chest portion. The top hat further includes in supporting connection therewith a first user interface 352 and a second user interface 354. The first user interface may be used by the merchant, and the second user interface may be used by the consumer. As previously discussed in detail, the user interfaces may comprise a card reader, keypad, function buttons, display screen, and receipt printer outlet. It should be appreciated that these input and output devices are exemplary and that other embodiments may include additional or different types of input devices which operate to receive information or instruction from users and/or output devices which provide information or instructions to users. Either user interface may be of the arrangement and operation of the type discussed in U.S. application Ser. No. 09/089,287 filed Jun. 2, 1998 or 09/130,756 filed Aug. 7, 1998, the disclosures of which are fully incorporated herein by reference. Additionally, the top hat may comprise an access door 362 for accessing the merchant interface 352. The door may have a handle 374 and a locking mechanism 364 for permitting access to authorized users of the merchant interface. It should be understood that this two compartment housing construction is exemplary and other embodiments may house all the components within a single chest type housing.
Each note storage area 348, 350 comprises a sheet receiving and dispensing mechanism similar to mechanism 77 previously described. Each sheet receiving and dispensing mechanism is operated responsive to one or more controllers which may be similar to controller 52 as previously discussed in detail, for example, in relation to
A passage area 356 and a gate 358 operatively connect the sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms with a sheet transport mechanism 360. Although the transport mechanism 360 may comprise several transports used in the movement of sheets, as previously discussed in detail, the transport mechanism 360 may also be a single common transport extending adjacent the inlet opening to adjacent the consumer outlet opening. A common transport would be common to sheets passing from the sheet inlet opening 342 to a storage area 348, 350; to sheets passing from a storage area 348, 350 to the first sheet outlet opening 344; and to sheets passing from a storage area 348, 350 to the second sheet outlet opening 346. The transport mechanism may comprise a belt arrangement and operation of the type discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,850,075, the disclosure of which is fully incorporated herein by reference. Other configurations of cooperating belts and rollers, or other members suitable for engaging and moving sheets, may be used.
The gate 358 may be of the arrangement and operation as discussed in U.S. application Ser. No. 09/193,793 filed Nov. 17, 1998, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
Alternatively, the gate 358 in the passage area may be of the arrangement and operation as shown in
The gate 358 operates adjacent the passage area 356 to selectively direct the sheets toward a storage area, the first sheet outlet opening, or the second sheet outlet opening. The gate member 380 is able to be moved or pivoted either to the right or left as shown in
Alternatively, the gate may be of the arrangement and operation as discussed in relation to any of the previous gates, such as gates 114, 248, or 284. The gate movement is operatively controlled by the controller. The gate movement enables sheets to pass through the passage area to/from the desired opening.
A validator 588, of one of the types previously discussed in detail, may be adjacent the sheet inlet opening 342. Invalid notes may be returned to the first interface user by the sheet inlet opening 342. A lower area of the chest portion 334 may comprise a divert area 370 for notes which cannot be handled by the machine. These may be for example damaged or unidentifiable sheets which the controller causes to be moved to the divert area. In embodiments of the invention the controller may direct notes that cannot be identified by validator 588 to divert area 370.
Another gate 372 operates adjacent the validator 588 to direct incoming sheets toward storage areas 348, 350 and outgoing sheets toward the first outlet opening 344. The exemplary gate 372 is able to be moved or pivoted between the positions shown in solid and dashed lines in
The sheet transport mechanisms may be driven by at least one drive, for example, as shown in
As shown in
Each user interface may include or be in connection with a corresponding printer, as previously discussed in detail, for example, in relation to
The dispensing and transport arrangement of
In machine 403, validator 418 is connected to an inlet transport 420 which may be similar to limited slip transport 108 previously described. Outlet 414 is in connection with an outlet transport 434. Outlet transport 434 functions in a manner similar to outlet transport 96 previously described. In this exemplary embodiment a gate similar to gate 114 is positioned adjacent to the intersection of inlet transport 420 and outlet transport 434. The gate operates in the manner previously discussed to selectively route sheets to the appropriate transport.
Inlet transport 420 and outlet transport 434 are connected to a lateral transport section 436. Lateral transport 436 is selectively operative responsive to the controller in the machine to move sheets either to or from the intersection of the inlet and outlet transports. Lateral transport section 436 is in operative connection with a gate 438. Gate 438 is positioned at an intersection of the lateral transport section 436 and a consumer outlet transport section 440. Gate 438 is also positioned at the intersection of the lateral transport section and a note storage transport section 442. Gate 438 is selectively operated under the control of the controller to selectively direct sheets either to or from the lateral transport section 436, consumer outlet transport section 440 or note storage transport section 442.
The sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms 406, 408 and 410 in the exemplary embodiment are all similar in construction and are shown in various levels of detail to facilitate clarity and understanding. Each of the mechanisms 406, 408 and 410 is operatively connected with the note storage transport section 442. In the exemplary embodiment each of the sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms is used for storing and dispensing a different denomination of currency notes. This enables the machine 403 to provide multi-denominational storage.
As each of the sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms in this embodiment are similar, only mechanism 408 will be described in detail. The mechanisms include a note storage reel 444 and a web takeup reel 446. A flexible web 448 extends between the reels. The reels are driven by a drive 450 similar to that previously described. Driving the note storage reel 444 in a counterclockwise direction as shown enables notes to be stored in wrapped relation with the web onto the note storage reel. Likewise as previously described, driving the note storage reel in a clockwise direction as shown causes notes to be unwrapped from the note storage reel and delivered from the mechanism. Each sheet receiving and dispensing mechanism further includes nip rolls 452 which are used for guiding the sheets which are moved onto or off of the note storage reel 444. A separating member 454 similar to that previously described is also included for assuring that notes to be delivered are separated from the web.
In the embodiment shown diverter gates 456, 458 and 460 are positioned in operative connection with the note storage transport section and respectively adjacent to sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms 406, 408 and 410. Positioning of the respective diverter gate responsive to signals from the controller enables notes traveling generally downward as shown in the note storage transport section to be engaged with a selected one of the receiving and dispensing mechanisms. This enables a note to be selectively delivered into engagement with the nip rolls of the mechanism so that it may be stored on the storage reel thereof. This operation of the controller of the machine enables selected sheets to be stored in selected receiving and dispensing mechanisms. Diverter gates 456, 458 and 460 may also be positioned so as to guide notes which are delivered from the respective mechanisms into engagement with the note storage transport section. As a result dispensed sheets are enabled to be transported through the gate 438 and selectively delivered to either the consumer side outlet opening or the cashier side outlet opening.
It should be understood that while in the exemplary embodiment shown there are three sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms, other embodiments of the invention may include different numbers of such mechanisms. In addition the type of mechanism shown herein is but one of several types of sheet storage and/or dispensing mechanisms that may be provided in embodiments of the present invention for purposes of storing and delivering sheets. It should also be understood that while machine 403 is shown without the top hat section which includes the cashier and consumer interfaces, such interfaces as previously described may be used in connection with the machine.
In other exemplary embodiments, customers may use the automated transaction machine not only to obtain cash but also to pay for purchases by crediting the merchant's account. Customers may also use the machine to order items, such as food, and credit the merchant's account for the purchase. Additionally, a voucher may be printed and delivered to the customer showing a credit was made to the merchant's account. The voucher may then be used to make purchases from the merchant or an affiliated entity.
In operation of an exemplary automated transaction machine, the merchant side user may be required to input information through one or more input devices. In the machine having the configuration shown in
In the exemplary embodiments of the invention, identification of the merchant side user of the transaction machine for use in authorizing machine operation may be determined based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information. For example, an identification of the merchant side user of the transaction machine may be based on an iris scan of the user and/or the user's voice characteristics.
If it is determined that the merchant user is authorized to operate the machine, the controller operates in accordance with its programming to present the merchant user with one or more prompt messages through the output device of the cashier interface 352. These output messages in the exemplary embodiment request that the merchant user provide an input to indicate whether they wish to withdraw cash from the machine or to input cash. If the merchant user provides an input through an input device of the cashier side interface indicating that they wish to input funds, the output device then prompts the user to input cash through the cashier side inlet opening. As previously discussed this may be done one sheet at a time or in embodiments which include the capabilities of handling a stack of bills, an entire stack may be input to the machine. As the merchant user performs the cash input operation, the controller operates the output device on the cashier interface so that the user is instructed to provide a further input to indicate when they have completed the cash input operation. In alternative embodiments of the invention the controller may operate to provide a running total on the output device as to the value of the bills that have been input by the merchant user. Thus as notes pass through the validator and are verified, the total amount input as indicated on the screen of the cashier interface increases.
As the notes are received by the machine, the controller operates the transports and sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms to route the notes to the appropriate mechanism for storage. The storage and dispensing mechanisms are then operated as the notes arrive so that they are stored therein. Sheets which are unsuitable or unidentifiable may be returned to the merchant user or routed to a divert area based on the programming of the controller.
Upon completion by the merchant user of the note input transaction, the merchant user may indicate that they are finished by providing an input through the cashier interface. In the exemplary embodiment the controller is then operative to cause a receipt to be printed for the merchant user. This receipt may include the total amount of money input and may be used as evidence by the merchant user that the money was deposited. Embodiments of the invention may be programmed to provide the merchant user with additional information which may be of value in the operation of the merchant's business. This may include for example the particular name of the merchant user associated with the card and/or PIN used for accessing the machine. The receipt information may also include in addition to the total value of money input, the particular number and denomination of each bill type deposited. The receipt may also include other information such as the character of any unsuitable notes which were deposited, the time the deposit was made, the amount and/or numbers of denominations of notes in the machine before and/or after completion of the transaction or any other information that may be useful in the operation of the merchant's business.
The printed receipt is delivered to the merchant user by an appropriate transport mechanism. This may include for example a transport and gate mechanism which delivers the receipt through the housing of the machine when the cashier interface is positioned outside of the machine. Alternatively in configurations of machines such as those shown in
In the exemplary embodiments of the invention, a record of the input transactions may include information based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information. For example, the transaction machine may receive money deposited by a merchant employee, then make a record based on the employee's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information. This permits the operator and/or owner of the establishment to have a record of depositing money into the machine.
After the completion of the deposit transaction the merchant user may be prompted through, messages output through the interface to indicate whether they wish to conduct another transaction. Such transactions may include additional deposits or the dispensing of cash from a machine. Assuming that the merchant user provides an input indicating that they do not wish to conduct further transactions, the controller operates the machine to close the session and the machine is now ready for operation by consumers or further merchant users. In the case of an embodiment of the machine where the cashier interface is within the interior of the machine, the merchant user would also close the door used to access the cashier interface. This protects the cashier interface from dirt and other contaminants that may be found in the merchant's environment. It has been found that the use of a cashier interface which is enclosed within the machine is particularly well adapted for use in fast food environments and other environments where airborne contaminants otherwise may collect and eventually impede the operation of a merchant interface.
Merchant users may also use exemplary embodiments of the invention to obtain cash for use in operation of the merchant's business. This may be done by the merchant user accessing the machine in the manner previously described such as through use of a card and PIN number. If the machine is of the type where the cashier interface is disposed within the machine it necessary for the merchant user to open the machine in order to gain access to the card reader and key pad and other input and output devices. Once the user has identified themself to the machine and has been determined to be an authorized user, the merchant user is presented with the prompt messages which request an input concerning the type of transaction to be conducted. Alternatively after a merchant user has conducted a prior transaction such prompt messages may be presented. If the merchant user inputs a request to withdraw funds, the controller operates the machine so as to provide appropriate output messages. In response to these messages, the merchant user may indicate the amount of funds that they wish to withdraw.
In some embodiments the controller may operate to provide the merchant user with messages prompting the user to indicate the number and denomination of notes they wish to receive. This may be valuable to a merchant user who requires particular denominations of notes from the machine to carry out the efficient operation of their business, such as for making change. Various approaches to presenting merchant users with withdrawal options may be provided in embodiments of the invention through programming of a controller which controls operation of the machine.
In response to the merchant user providing the inputs corresponding to the amount and/or types and numbers of notes they wish to withdraw, the controller operates the machine to deliver the requested bills through the cashier side outlet opening. The controller operates the appropriate sheet receiving and dispensing mechanisms, transports, gates and other mechanisms to direct the bills to the merchant user. Once the bills have been delivered the merchant user may take them for use in operation of the business. After the completion of the dispensing operation the machine may provide the merchant user with a receipt indicating the amounts, types of notes and other information concerning the withdrawal transaction and/or status information concerning the machine. The merchant user may use the receipt for purposes of tracking the whereabouts of cash within the business as well as for auditing the operation of the machine. Of course the controller may also operate to present the merchant user with additional transaction options. The merchant user may provide inputs requesting such additional transactions or may provide an input ending the session so that they are signed off the machine. As previously discussed, in embodiments where the cashier interface is positioned within the machine the merchant user will generally close and/or lock the door when merchant transactions are not being conducted.
It should be understood that while merchant transactions are authorized in the exemplary embodiment using data encoded on a card and a corresponding PIN number, other approaches to authorizing operation of the machine by merchant users may be used. This may include for example a card or access code alone. Other forms of the invention may use other types of identifying articles or features to identify merchant users. This may include for example tokens which can be read by token readers or other types of identifying articles which can be read by a machine. Alternatively, the machine may include biometric type reading devices which are capable of reading a physical feature associated with a merchant user. These may include for example fingerprint readers, retina scanners, iris scanners, facial recognition features, voice recognition features or combinations of any of the above.
Also, in the exemplary embodiments of the invention, authorization and/or identification of the merchant side user of the transaction machine may be determined based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information.
It should further be understood that records of all transactions conducted by exemplary embodiments of the invention are recorded and stored in a data store. In the exemplary embodiments of the invention, the records of the transactions may include information based on the user's appearance and/or voice characteristics and/or other biometric information and/or card information. Records of such transactions may be held within the machine and/or may be recorded in remote storage associated with other computers which are in communication with the machine through a communications device. This enables the operator of the machine to review transaction activities conducted through the machine. It further enables the merchant user to compare records of merchant transactions which are provided through receipts in hard copy form, to the electronic data concerning the operation of the machine. Various approaches to auditing and balancing the machine may also be employed to assure that all transactions and monetary amounts are accounted for in the operation of the business.
As can be appreciated, the exemplary embodiments of the present invention also enable consumers to operate the transaction machine. Consumers operate the machine through the consumer interface which includes input and output devices. For example, a consumer may present a card to a card reader which provides an input including an account number associated with the consumer. Likewise the consumer may present a PIN number which corresponds to the consumer or their account and is used to verify that the consumer is authorized to use the account associated with the card. Thereafter the controller operates in response to the input data from the consumer to determine whether the consumer is authorized to conduct a withdrawal of cash from the machine. Generally this is done through communication by the controller through a communications device to a remote computer. The consumer interface also operates responsive to the controller to prompt the consumer to indicate through inputs the amount of money they wish to withdraw. The interface may also provide the consumer with an indication of the transaction surcharges that may be associated with a requested transaction. Of course other information may also be presented to the consumer such as advertising or promotional information as previously discussed.
Assuming that the consumer is authorized to conduct a transaction the controller will operate the sheet receiving and dispensing mechanism within the machine to provide the consumer with the requested cash. In addition the controller will cause a receipt to be printed which provides the consumer with information concerning the transaction. The controller will also route the receipt to the consumer interface through an appropriate gate or transport mechanism so that the receipt may be taken by the consumer.
Thus the exemplary embodiments of the present invention may operate to provide consumers with cash in the manner of an automated teller machine while providing a merchant with a device which can be used to store, retrieve and track cash used in the operation of business. Exemplary embodiments of the invention also reduce the need for merchant users to access the interior areas of the machine for purposes of loading or dispensing cash therefrom. Exemplary embodiments of the invention also enable merchant users to limit access to cash to selected employees and to do so in a manner that provides a reliable audit trail related to the input and dispensing of cash. Embodiments of the present invention also enable a merchant user to make more effective use of the cash that they receive in their business and to pursue profit making opportunities for the merchant by being able to collect a portion of transaction fees that may be charged on transactions conducted by consumers at the machine. In addition embodiments of the invention as described herein are better suited for use in environments where contaminants may be present. Likewise embodiments of transaction machines of the present invention may be configured in a variety of ways suitable for use in various types of transaction environments.
Thus the automated transaction machines of the present invention achieves the above stated objectives, eliminates difficulties encountered in the use of prior devices and systems, solves problems and attains the desirable results described herein.
In the foregoing description certain terms have been used for brevity, clarity and understanding, however no unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed. Moreover, the descriptions and illustrations herein are by way of examples and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown and described.
In the following claims any feature described as a means for performing a function shall be construed as encompassing any means known to those skilled in the art to be capable of performing the recited function, and shall not be limited to the structures shown herein or mere equivalents thereof.
Having described the features, discoveries and principles of the invention, the manner in which it is constructed and operated, and the advantages and useful results attained; the new and useful structures, devices, elements, arrangements, parts, combinations, systems, equipment, operations, methods and relationships are set forth in the appended claims.