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Publication numberUS3893589 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 8, 1975
Filing dateMar 23, 1973
Priority dateMar 23, 1973
Publication numberUS 3893589 A, US 3893589A, US-A-3893589, US3893589 A, US3893589A
InventorsMandell Darla R
Original AssigneeMarrick Ind Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vending machine with traveling release
US 3893589 A
A vending machine having two removable storage racks separated by a central service and item delivery area in a cabinet having two doors associated with the removable storage racks and a front plate associated with the central service and item delivery area and provided with a slidably mounted receiving and releasing mechanism which obtains a vended item from a storage rack and delivers it to a purchaser through an item delivery slot in the central service and item delivery area.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Mandell [73] Assignee: Marrick Industries, Inc., Houston,


[22] Filed: Mar. 23, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 344,449

[51] Int. Cl. G071 11/10 [58] Field 01' Search 221/123, 126, 127, 155, 221/197, 242, 287, 128

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,940,603 12/1933 Nicholson 221/126 2,263,496 11/1941 Harris t 221/127 3,128,013 4/1964 Holstein 221/197 X 3,194,432 7/1965 Breitensteinm" 221/155 X 3,348,732 10/1967 Schwarz 221/123 July 8,1975

3,486,658 12/1969 Cheslak 221/197 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 712,450 6/1965 Canada 221/123 Primary Examiner-Robert B. Reeves Assistant Examiner-Thomas E. Kocovsky Attorney, Agent, or Firm--Kenneth H. Johnson 5 7 1 ABSTRACT A vending machine having two removable storage racks separated by a central service and item delivery area in a cabinet having two doors associated with the removable storage racks and a front plate associated with the central service and item delivery area and provided with a slidably mounted receiving and releasing mechanism which obtains a vended item from a storage rack and delivers it to a purchaser through an item delivery slot in the central service and item delivery area.

13 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTED JUL 8 75 SHEEI 2 BF 2 1 VENDING MACHINE WITH TRAVELING RELEASE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention related to an apparatus for storing and vending items. More particularly the invention relates to a vending machine having two storage racks for items and a central dispensing area. Another aspect of the present invention is the modular arrangement of components which provides a universal machine which can be adapted, easily to different sizes and shapes of items being vended and to changes in the various internal mechanisms.

The concept of modular arrangements of the internal mechanisms within the cabinet results in a combination which can be described as a cabinet within a cabinet. The concept of a cabinet within a cabinet is not a literal configuration but refers to that aspect of the present invention wherein the cabinet portion of the present apparatus remains the same while the internal components are arranged to provide, in essence a new vending machine, capable of handling different merchandise. The concept is such that the vending machine is rearranged or adapted for the new task, in situ by removing and replacing mechanisms and the like to arrive at the vending machine having the properties and capacities desired.

The present invention also provides an apparatus which can be easily adapted to accomodate improvements or changes in various components so that a significant advance in a component portion of the apparatus will not make the entire machine obsolete as is now the result. The present apparatus is also very easy to maintain since a part in need of repair is pulled out and replaced.

Since the machines are never Obsoleted by improvements or changes of the internal modules the overall cost of operation and vending can be reduced. Furthermore, as needs and conditions change the vending machine is adaptable to new items.

The present modular concept regarding the apparatus of the present invention is particularly compatible with my modular solid state vending apparatus disclosed in my co-pending application Ser. No. 262,500 filed June 14,1972 now U.S. Pat. No. 3,79l,505, which related to the use of an electronic system to perform all of the functions in the vending machine except the actual delivery of the vended item. Thus the purely mechanical aspects of the vending machine are kept to a minimum and relate, particularly to the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly stated the present invention is a vending apparatus comprising:

a cabinet having two hinged doors,

two removable storage racks mounted in said cabinet and positioned behind said doors,

a means attached to said cabinet for removably mounting said storage rack,

a releasing and receiving means slidably mounted below and in cooperative alignment with said storage racks, for receiving and delivering vended items,

a service and delivery area positioned between said storage racks, and

a panel removably mounted over said service area.

The cabinet as such is a shell into which the modules are mounted. The doors of the cabinet also serve as the display area where the vended items are displayed. Preferably there are a number of individual display areas where the goods are attractively presented. The storage racks are mounted in brackets on the back wall of the cabinet and can be lifted off out through the open doors. A single rack is mounted behind each door. Between the racks is a service area. The electronic selection system, for example. is mounted in this area along with the selection buttons or the like. Also the currency receptors and the place for delivery of the vended items are in this area. which is covered with a removeable plate. If the nature of selection buttons are changed, e.g., increased or decreased or the currency receptor changed, e.g., from coin to paper. the new component is installed in place of the old in the service area and a new plate adapted to the particular change. if any, or the old plate if the external features are the same is installed over the service area. The doors in the closed position, abutt and overlap the plate and secure the internal portion of the apparatus.

Each of the racks is comprised of a series of chutes into which items for vending are loaded. A release mechanism holds the items in the chutes and releases them when a purchase is made, so they can be retrieved by the purchaser. The vended item drops into a carrier which brings it back to service area where it is delivered to the purchaser through an opening in the plate. It is apparent that each rack will have several chutes in order to economically justify the machine, thus a rack will have a plurality of chutes. The number and size can be varied, however, generally the chutes in a single machine will be substantially the same size and configuration and the removable racks will be replaced in their entirety when a change is desired.

Some of the advantages of the present invention have been indicated above. One particular advantage of the present vending apparatus is its convertability from one size or shape of vend item to another. Another advantage is the security feature of not having the storage racks immediately accessable from the item retrieval opening. Another feature of the apparatus is the modular nature of the components parts which allows great flexibility in the utilization of the machine. Another feature of the apparatus is the accessability of the inter nal components for servicing or repair. A further feature is the central service area. These and other advantages will be generally apparent from the specifications and the drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is an isometric view of the outer cabinet of the apparatus of the present invention with all of the components in place for operation.

FIG. 2 is partial isometric view of the apparatus with the doors opened and the center plate and one of the removable racks removed.

FIG. 3 is a front elevation of the apparatus with both doors fully opened and the center plate removed.

FIG. 4 is a detail of the rack mounts taken along 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a detail isometric view of the carrier and a release mechanism.

FIG. 6 is detail of the release mechanism taken along 6-6 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIG. I the cabinet 1 in the closed and operational configuration is depicted. Cabinet 1 is a closed unit comprised of either of a number of parts which are assembled or of a single prefabricated unit with the front opened and adapted to have hinged doors 2 attached on each side and a front plate 8 situated between the two doors 2. In addition to closing the cabinet 1 and securing the contents thereof the doors 2 also serve as a display area for the goods being vended. There are a plurality of display windows 3 located on each of the doors 2. In FIG. 1 it can be seen that the display windows 3 are arranged with four above and three below. However, any configuration or arrangement which is attractive and likely to induce use of the machine is suitable. Each display window 3 is covered with a transparent material 4 such as a glass or acrylic polymer through which the goods to be sold are displayed so that the actual item being vended can be seen. Each display window 3 is a discreet display area separated from the other display windows by partition 9 and display area cover 11. The front panel 8 is fixedly attached over the area between the two doors. The security of the closed cabinet is improved if the doors 2 overlap the front panel 8 to some extent. This panel 8 covers the service area which is situated in the central portion of the machine. Included in the service area are such items as the currency receiver 6, the selection panel comprised of selection buttons 5, and the item delivery slot 7. The front panel 8 is designed to be cheaply and readily replaced as the need may arise. For example, if the nature of the currency receiver 6 should be changed from the type indicated to a coin type or a combination coin and currency type, the front panel is removed and a new front panel with the appropriate openings cut therein is inserted in place. Similarly the selection buttons may change in number or size so that they will no longer fit the opening existing in the front plate 8 for that purpose. This can occur if the machine is modified for different articles to be vended, for example, where there are fewer items which will be sold. As has been stated above the modular concept is extended beyond the internal components to the external components such as the front plate 8. Similarly the doors 2 may be removed and exchanged for doors containing new arrangements of display windows 3.

The internal components of the present vending apparatus can be seen in perspective FIG. 2. Referring first to the door 2 which is shown in the open position, display area cover I] which is mounted on the door adjacent to the display windows 3 and is illustrated as a single piece of material. However, it can be readily appreciated that each display area 3 could have a separate cover. The cover 11 is attached by any conventional means, such as screws, clamp, etc. Although not shown in detail the cover 11 is seated a slight distance back from the display area so that the light from electric flourescent lamp is able to enter into the display area 3 and illuminate the items on display. Alternatively the partitions 9 can be made of a transparent or translucent material to allow light to pass and the cover may be seated against the display areas. It should be noted that in some applications the electric light 10 may be omitted and the ambient light from the location where the machine is placed will light the display windows 3. This will occur in such instances when the machines are on location in airport terminals, bus terminals and the like where lighting is always provided.

The machine is divided so that there are two banks of storage racks l2 situated therein. In FIG. 2 one of the storage racks 12 is shown displaced from the machine. The other is shown properly seated in the machine as it would be in operation. The racks 12 are both removable, thus furthering the modular concept. The mounting of storage racks 12 is shown in more detail in FIG. 4 which will be discussed in more detail hereinafter.

Each rack is adapted to be seated into the space between the outer wall of cabinet 1 and the service area behind front panel 8. Means (not shown) may be provided whereby the exact location of a storage rack 12 in the cabinet I will be the same each time it is removed and replaced. This means could be, for example, a color mark, flange, stud or other simple indicia. Each rack is composed of two side members 13 which are connected by means of front braces 16 and back braces 21. As depicted here there are two front braces 16 and two back braces 19. However, there could be only one such brace or there could be more than two. Attached by appropriate means such as spot welding to the front and back braces respectively are front ribs 15 and back ribs 19 the ribs form chutes into which items to be vended or containers such as rectangular boxes are placed containing the vended items. It should be noted that each end member 13 has a fin 20 along each vertical side thereof which is conveniently formed by making the end member 13 from a sheet metal and bending or stamping the sheet to form the fins 20. In any event the fin 20 along with the end member 13 form a part of the chute. The other portion of each chute is formed by a rib l5 and a rib 19. All of the front ribs 15 are comprised of an angle facing in one direction, in this case to the right of the figure, and all of the back ribs are formed from an angle facing in one direction which is opposite to that of the front ribs. Thus all of the chutes are formed by the ribs 15 and 19 and in the case of the two end chutes by a pair of ribs and a side member 13. The vended items are retained in the proper position within the chute by two angles, i.e., an angle formed in a front rib l5 and an angle formed in a back rib 19. These two angles are diagonally opposed to one another across the chute. Across the other diagonal of the chute the flat surface of a front and rear rib respectively form the other sides of the chute.

At the lower end of each of the chutes formed within the storage racks 12 are blocking mechanisms 17 which are mounted on rod 18. The blocking mechanism 17 and the holding latch 56 are described in detail in regard to FIGS. 5 and 6. However generally speaking, the blocking mechanism 17 holds the items being vended other than the first item in the chutes and the holding latch 56 releases the first item at the appropriate time after a sale has been made.

The releasing and receiving mechanism is slidably mounted on rods 26 which are mounted longitudely along the front and rear of the cabinet 1 below the storage racks 12. This receiving and releasing mechanism is mounted on rods 26 by a housing 29 at the front and rear of the mechanism through which the rods 26 pass. The housing may have a frictionless sleeve such as nylon or Teflon seated therein. Supported on this housing is a platform 34, and four retaining members 35 located about the sides of platform 34. Platform 34 is designed to receive a package or item from a chute and to hold it for delivery to the purchaser. The releasing and receiving mechanism which is shown in detail in FIG. 5 hereinafter, is moved to the appropriate location beneath a chute by means of stepper motor 31 which is connected to gear reduction box 32 by drive shaft 41. The gear reduction box is in turn connected by drive shaft 33 to cog wheel 30, which is mounted in operative contact with teeth 28 on track 27. The stepper motor operates when it receives a signal in accordance with the procedure, for example, disclosed in my co-pending application Ser. No. 262,500 filed June 14, I972, and mentioned above. It is, of course, not important to this invention by what means the stepper motor is directed to move and that aspect of the process described here forms no part of this invention. Furthermore, the releasing and receiving mechanism need not be propelled by a stepper motor. Having received an instruction to move the appropriate number of steps either to the right or to the left the stepper motor then moves the releasing and receiving mechanism as instructed and will position it below a particular chute corresponding to the number of steps as directed.

The blocking mechanism 17 and the holding latch 56 at the lower end of each chute are actuated by the releasing and receiving mechanism and either by specific signals or as part of a continuous process to release a vended item which will fall onto the platform 34. Having completed this step in the process the stepper motor is then directed to return to the central position it occupies in FIG. 2 carrying the vended item on the platform. When the releasing and receiving mechanism is again positioned within the service area in front of the item delivery slot 7 the servo motor 38 is actuated which causes the spirally grooved rod 29 to rotate in a clockwise direction. Seated on spirally grooved rod 39 is bushing 37 having a meshing spiral groove internal thereof such that bushing 37 will ride along rod 39 towards servo motor 38 as the rod 39 is rotated in a clockwise direction. Attached to bushing 37 is a pushing member 36. As the bushing 37 and pushing member 36 are pulled toward the motor 38 the vended object which has been received onto platform 34 and carried by the releasing and receiving mechanism back to the central service area of the machine is pushed forward and out through the item delivery slot 7. The servo motor 38 will reverse itself either at a predetermined time or by the tripping of a switch (not shown) so that the bushing 37 and member 36 are returned to the point shown in FIG. 2. Rod 39 is rotatably seated in a bushing on the cabinet (not shown). Slots 40 are adapted to receive flanges (not shown) on front panel 8 so as to seat the front panel on the machine. Other means, such as locks and latches are present and not shown to secure the front panel 8 to the cabinet 1.

FIG. 3 shows a front elevation of the vending apparatus and the track running the length of the machine can be clearly seen. The selection apparatus 5 is a modular unit in itself and can be replaced in its entirety and more preferably each of the elements therein have been reduced to a single electronic module which can be replaced for modification or repair of the machine. The front panel 8 is designed to be a separate and small portion of the overall cabinet so that it can be replaced without excessive cost in the event that the contour or shape or size of the selection buttons is changed so that the opening in panel 8 through which these buttons project is not satisfactory. Similarly in the event that the currency received is changed or out of necessity relocated the entire front panel is replaced with an appropriate panel. This has both a practical and an esthetic value. First a front panel which has unnecessary or overlarge openings therein is a weakened and less secure element in the security of the machine. It is, of course, of most importance that the front panel 8 be a substantial element since it is in such close relationship to the money which is received in the machine and to the apparatus which directs the release of the items stored in the chutes. Secondly, it is obvious that a juryrigged or inept job of adaption of the front panel 8 might detract from the overall appearance of the cabinet and thus reduce the customer appeal of the machine and the products therein.

It can be seen from FIG. 1 that the doors 2 when closed will project outward somewhat over the lower portion of the cabinet 1 adjacent thereto. This is a re sult of the use of the doors as display areas and further provides a degree of security and that the protruding portion of the door makes access into the storage area of the machine more difficult. For example, the insertion ofa wire or coathanger into the release mechanism area to release goods or to try to cause the machine to malfunction and deliver unpaid for items. The problem of security is ever present with vending machines and the present novel arrangement of the two-door and two-storage area cabinet with a central service and delivery area provides a degree of security that most vending machines do not have. Generally the delivery slots are in line with the storage chutes. The art has gone through various attempts to provide security against manipulation of the release mechanisms in the machines through the delivery slots, however, it is quite apparent that the present arrangements wherein there is no direct relationship between the delivery slot and the storage racks 12 is a preferable one.

Referring now to FIG. 4 the bracket arrangement for securing the removable storage racks in the cabinet can be seen in detail. Bracket holder 25 is situated conveniently across the entire length of the back inside of the cabinet. [n the present embodiment there are an upper and a lower bracket. The rack bracket 25 can be viewed as having three elements. which are an upper element 43, a lower element 42 substantially parallel to upper element and a connecting element 43 between the two. When the bracket 25 is attached to the rear inside of the cabinet the lower element 42 is secured by welding, bolting or any other means to the cabinet. The upper element 43 is spaced away from the back of the cabinet 1 and forms a channel along the back of the cabinet. The rack bracket 14 is a portion of the back brace 21 on the storage racks l2 and is situated so that there is a downward facing channel formed along the back brace 21. This downward facing channel on the back brace 21 and the channel formed by upper element 43 of the bracket holder 25 are adapted to engage and thus to suspend the storage rack 12 within cabinet 1. It can be seen that this arrangement allows the storage rack 12 to be easily lifted in and out of the cabinet yet the weight of the storage rack itself secures it in place. Moreover, latching means (not shown) can be provided to secure the storage rack in position.

Turning now to FIG. 5 let it be assumed that the seiector mechanism has been activated by the insertion of currency or otherwise and a selection has been made causing the releasing and receiving mechanism to move along rods 26 to a predetermined chute within one of the storage racks 12 in accordance with the selection made. In FIG. the platform 34 has been removed so that the release mechanism can be more clearly seen. As the releasing and receiving mechanism approaches a chute the cam surface 49 comes into contact with the lower portion of blocking mechanism 17 forcing the blocking mechanism to rotate about rod 18 and forcing the upper end of the blocking mechanism 17 toward the storage rack. Attached to the upper end of blocking mechanism 17 are two resilient members 45 which are intended to press forward and contact the second item, for example a box B in the chute and to hold it in that position so long as the releasing and receiving mechanism is situated below that chute. This prevents the second item from moving down the chute when the holding latch is actuated. Thus only one item will be vended at a time. In its normal position blocking mechanism 17 is biased by torsional spring 46 to hold the resilient members 46 out of contact with the items in the chute. when the releasing and receiving mechanism is positioned below the chute a signal can be sent to a servo motor (not shown) which is attached by a shaft 53 to cam 48 to rotage the cam in the direction of the arrow. The servo motor wil cause cam 48 to make one complete revolution. In so doing the arms 50 will be forced outward and trip member 52 which will contact the holding latch 56.

The holding latch operation is described in detail in FIG. 6. As shown in FIG. 6 the holding latch 56 is in the non-release configuration in that it is holding the items to be vended in the chute in the storage rack 12. This can be seen by the box A which is seated on shoulder 57. The holding latch is held in this configuration by torsional spring 55. As noted above when the releasing and receiving mechanism is situated below a chute the releasing portion of the apparatus is actuated by rotation of cam 48 sending the trips 51 and 52 outward. As trip 52 moves outward it will contact the trip contact portion 58 of holding latch 56. In so doing it will force the holding latch back so that the shoulder 57 is removed from below box A thus allowing box A to drop down into the receiving portion of the releasing and receiving mechanism. As noted above the resilient members 45 on blocking mechanism 17 secure the box immediately above box A thus allowing only one box (A) to fall. As the cam 48 completes its revolution and comes back into the rest position the spring 55 biases the holding latch 56 back into its normal position forcing the trip 52 back to its normal position. Similarly trip 52 can be biased by springs attached thereto and to the plate 59. When this procedure has been completed the releasing and receiving mechanism will receive a signal to return to the central service area to its off position opposite the item delivery slot 7. As the releasing and receiving mechanism moves away from the chute under which it has been positioned the cam surface 49 is moved away from the lower portion of blocking mechanism 17 thus allowing the blocking mechanism to return to its normal off or static position. In so doing the blocking effect on the box B is released thus allowing this box or item to move down the chute into the position of the A box as shown in H0. 6 and the other box thereabove will become the new B box. The box A will seat itself on shoulder 57 and the chute is now ready to repeat the process. It should be appreciated that a hold ing latch similar to that shown in FIG. 6 may also be situated at the rear of the chute holding box A and releasing it upon contact with trip 51. A blocking mechanism 17 has not been found to be necessary at the rear of each chute since the front blocking mechanism will press the box B back and against the back ribs of the chute and thus hold it securely in place. It should be noted that the trip member 52 is situated to the side so as not to block the delivery of the vended item through the item delivery slot 7.

The arms 50 are held and guided by guides 47 which are mounted on plate 59. The retaining members 35 are conveniently attached to two of the guides. It is apparent that the retaining members 35 could be solid walls and that the platform 34 and retaining members 35 could all be comprised of a single trough-like member.

A particularly interesting feature of the present invention is the location of the central delivery slot. This allows the releasing and receiving mechanism to move under a chute and return with the vended item in a relatively short time as opposed, for example, to an arrangement wherein the releasing and receiving mechanism would have to travel the entire length of all of the chutes in a vending apparatus to arrive at the last chute. By the present novel configuration the maximum distance that the releasing and receiving mechanism may be required to travel is one-half of the single storage rack configuration.

The present apparatus is adapted to operate electrically. The particular conditions have not been discribed since these may be varied. For example, the various motors described can be volt AC or [2-40 volt DC, similarly the selection means and the other components may operate from a variety of voltages.

It is anticipated that the selection means, currency receivers, accumulators, counters and the like will be solid state, integrated circuitry, however, the present invention is capable of operation with the prior art mechanical equivalents of these solid state components or with combinations thereof. Similarly, although no solenoids are disclosed herein they may be employed where they can perform the function of motors described. Solenoids are a common feature of prior vending apparatus; they are however, quite frequently the major source of breakdown and should be avoided.

Although the present invention has been described with regard to a particular embodiment and the particulr manifestations for that particular embodiment it is apparent that there are a number of obvious and conventional modifications which could be made without changing the overall intent and scope of the invention. These obvious and expedient modifications are intended to be within the scope of the invention and the figures submitted herewith are not intended to unnecessarily limit the scope of the invention.

The invention claimed is:

l. A vending apparatus comprising a cabinet having two hinged doors,

two storage racks having a plurality of vertical chutes therein said racks being spaced apart and mounted in said cabinet and positioned behind said doors a plurality of moveable holding latch means, each associated with one of said chutes at the lower end thereof and projecting into said chutes for supporting items in said chute;

a releasing and receiving means slidably mounted on longitudinal rods below and in cooperative alignment with said racks for receiving and delivering vended items. said releasing and receiving means having a platform, a means for moving said platform horizontally to a predetermined location below a chute comprising a stepper motor operably connected to a cog wheel said cog wheel being functionally associated with a track, and means to actuate said moveable holding latch means associated with said chute for withdrawing said holding latch from said chute to allow an item to drop from said chute on to said platform and a plurality of blocking means each associated with a chute for holding items above the first item in said chutes when said first item is released therefrom. said holding latch means and said blocking means being independently pivotally mounted on said chutes.

2. The vending apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said chutes are adapted to receive rectangular items.

3. The vending apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said storage racks are removably mounted by means of cooperative engagement of a bracket attached to each of said racks with a bracket holder attached to said cabinet.

4. The vending apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said bracket is a longitudinal member having a downwardly open channel therein and said bracket holder is a longitudinal member having an upwardly open channel therein.

5. The vending apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said bracket holder is positioned in said cabinet opposite said doors.

6. The vending apparatus according to claim 5 wherein said racks are positioned in said cabinet longitudinally on either side of said service and delivery area.

7. The vending apparatus according to claim 1 having a service and delivery area positioned between said storage racks wherein said releasing and receiving means is adapted to remain in said service and delivery area at a predetermined position therein when said apparatus is not in vending operation.

8. The vending apparatus according to claim 7 having a panel removably mounted between said doors wherein said panel is adapted to cooperate with said releasing and receiving means for delivering vended items out of said apparatus.

9. The vending apparatus according to claim 8 wherein means is provided for pushing vended items from said vending machine.

10. The vending apparatus according to claim 8 wherein a selection means and a currency receiving means are located in said service and delivery area.

11. The vending apparatus according to claim 10 wherein said panel is adapted to accommodate said selection means and currency receiving means for providing access thereto.

12. The vending apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said doors have display windows therein and form corresponding discrete display areas.

13. The vending apparatus according to claim 12 wherein light means are located on the inner side of said doors and adjacent to said display areas for lighting thereof.

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U.S. Classification221/123, 221/155
International ClassificationG07F11/10, G07F11/04
Cooperative ClassificationG07F11/10
European ClassificationG07F11/10