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This application is a continuation of, and claims priority to, U. The present concepts are directed generally to coin processing devices and, more specifically, to a coin processing system and method having a feature providing increased coin-receptacle utilization. Coin processing devices such as coin redemption machines allow users to exchange bulk coins deposits for another form of physical currency such as bills, redeemable or negotiable instruments, or electronic currency e.
Typically, coin redemption machines are disposed in public locations such as in a retail store or bank. Current coin-processing machines employ bags or bins. The control system is set up so that, at a predetermined number of coins e. This predetermined number of coins is based on an assumption of a certain mix of coins and the volume associated with that assumed mix of coins.
However, in many instances, the assumed mix of coins may not reflect the actual mix typically seen in certain facilities. For example, one facility may generally receive one mix of coins, reflecting a concentration of one denomination of coin e.
In these instances, the number of coins and the volumes occupied thereby would differ. Coin-processing machines programmed to stop receiving transactions after a pre-set number of coins have been processed by the machine may not fully utilize the volume of the bin. Since the cost to empty the bin i. According to one embodiment, a method for optimizing a usable volume of a coin receptacle associated with a coin-processing device includes receiving a plurality of coins in a coin input area of the coin-processing device, obtaining data for each coin from at least one sensor, associating the data for each coin with a denomination, depositing all of the received plurality of coins with an associated denomination into the coin receptacle of the coin-processing device, the coin receptacle being configured to accept, but not dispense, deposited coins until a maximum number of coins occupy the coin receptacle and to securely store the coins in the coin receptacle until removal of the coin receptacle from the coin-processing device and adjusting, responsive to the data, an upper limit of the maximum number of coins which may be deposited into the coin receptacle.
In another aspect, a coin-processing system is provided which includes a coin processing machine and a coin receptacle associated therewith which is configured to receive coins input into the coin processing machine. In one aspect, this means for updating includes a controller. The coin receptacle is configured to accept, but not dispense, deposited coins and configured to securely store the coins in the coin receptacle until removal of the coin receptacle from the coin-processing device.
In another aspect of the present concepts, a coin-processing system is provided which includes a coin processing machine and a coin receptacle associated therewith, the coin receptacle being configured to receive coins input into the coin processing machine. The coin-processing system also includes a sensor or a switch disposed to output a signal in response to a condition in a coin-processing machine coin receptacle. A controller comprising a processor is also provided to calculate an upper limit of coins permitted to be input into the coin receptacle based at least in part upon the signal output by the sensor or switch, or a signal related thereto.
This summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment, or every aspect, of the present concepts. Additional features and benefits of the present concepts are apparent from the detailed description, figures, and claims set forth below. While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments are shown by way of example in the drawings and are described in detail herein.
It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
As noted above, the present concepts are directed generally to coin processing devices and, more specifically, to a coin processing system and method having features providing increased coin-receptacle utilization. The coin processing device 14 includes a coin input tray 16 , such as that described in U. The coin input tray 16 may optionally include a perforated bottom 18 for sifting debris intermixed with the coins. Once coins are received in the input tray 16 , the user upwardly pivots the input tray 16 to the position shown in FIG.
A user interface 20 is disposed on the front of the coin processing device 14 for receiving user inputs and for displaying information to the user.
According to one embodiment, the user interface 20 may comprise a touch-screen-type user interface. In other embodiments, the user interface may comprise a separate display and keypad.
The coin processing device 14 further includes a media slot 22 into which the user may insert an account card e. This media may include various types of memory storage technology such as magnetic storage, solid state memory devices, and optical devices. The user interface 20 typically provides the user with a menu of options which prompts the user to carry out a series of actions for identifying the user by displaying certain commands and requesting that the user input information e. In general, when the coin processing device is used in a coin redemption application, the coin processing device 14 receives from a user as described, and after these deposited coins have been processed e.
The user can redeem the transaction ticket for funds from an attendant of the coin machine An attendant may include a store employee such as a cashier at a grocery store or a teller at a bank. Alternatively, the user can redeem the transaction ticket for credit towards purchases at the store where the machine is located. In accord with the present concepts, there are provided, generally, a method, system, and apparatus for monitoring a mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine and calculating an upper limit of the coins in an associated receptacle e.
Coin discrimination devices are disclosed, by way of example, in U. Coins pass from the coin input tray 16 into hopper and are deposited on the top surface of a rotating disc comprising a resilient pad bonded to the top surface of a solid disc As the rotating disc rotates through the action of motor , the coins deposited thereon tend to slide outwardly over the surface of the resilient pad due to centrifugal force.
As the coins move outwardly, those coins which are lying flat on the pad enter a gap between the surface of the pad and a sorting head spaced apart from and opposing the resilient pad. The coins are guided by channels, walls, rails, and the like formed in the sorting head as the coins move outwardly due to the outward radial forces and move circumferentially due to the rotational movement imparted to the coins by the resilient pad of the rotating disc.
The first exit channel is dedicated to the smallest coin to be sorted e. The sorting head typically includes, at some position in the coin travel path, a discrimination sensor to discriminate between valid and invalid coins. The discrimination sensor works in conjunction with an off-sorting device to remove invalid coins from the coin path to a reject area.
The discrimination sensor may optionally be configured to determine the denomination of each coin passing thereby or therethrough to determine a denomination of the coins and to output a signal corresponding to the detected denomination of each coin. In another aspect, the sorting head or adjacent portions of the coin sorting device 14 may include a coin counting sensor to count each coin output from each of the coin exit channels. Controller , as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware e.
Controller may comprise or be associated with one or more processors The controller facilitates operation of the coin processing system and more particularly, permits optimization of coin receptacle 12 utilization. According to one embodiment, optimization of the coin receptacle utilization is provided by controller executing one or more sequences of instructions resident in memory or other computer-readable medium. Execution of the sequences of instructions contained in memory causes the controller to perform the various steps described herein or to output signals to other associated components to perform the various steps described herein.
Hard-wired circuitry may be used in lieu of or in combination with software instructions to achieve the same end and the concepts expressed herein are not limited to any specific combination of circuitry or software. The term computer-readable medium as used herein refers to any medium that participates in providing instructions to a processor for execution. This medium may take many forms including, but not limited to, non-volatile media e.
Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions to controller for execution. For example, instructions may initially be borne on a magnetic disk of a remote computer, which can load the instructions into its dynamic memory and send the instructions over a telephone line using a modem. The operator communicates with the coin processing machine 14 via an operator interface for receiving information from an operator and displaying information to the operator about the functions and operation of the coin processing machine.
The controller monitors the angular position of the disc using encoder , which sends an encoder count to the controller upon each incremental movement of the disc Based on input from the encoder , the controller determines the angular velocity at which the disc is rotating as well as the change in angular velocity, that is the acceleration and deceleration, of the disc The encoder allows the controller to track the position of coins on the sorting head after being sensed.
The controller also controls the power supplied to the motor which drives the rotatable disc When the motor is a DC motor, the controller can reverse the current to the motor to cause the rotatable disc to decelerate, which permits control of the speed of the rotatable disc without the need for a brake. The controller also monitors the coin counting sensors which are disposed in each of the coin exit channels of the sorting head or are disposed outside of the periphery of the sorting head.
As coins move past the counting sensors , the controller receives a signal from the counting sensor for the particular denomination of the passing coin and adds one to the counter for that particular denomination within the controller or associated memory In an alternate aspect, the discrimination sensor , if configured to determine the denomination of each coin passing thereby or therethrough, may output a signal corresponding to the detected denomination to the controller , which then adds one to the counter for that particular denomination within the controller or associated memory The controller thus maintains a counter for each denomination of coin that is to be sorted and a count of each denomination of coin sorted.
The count for each denomination of coin being sorted by the coin processing machine 14 is continuously tallied and updated by the controller For example, as noted above, it may be necessary to stop the discharging of coins after a predetermined number of coins have been delivered to a coin bin to prevent the coin bin from becoming overfilled.
As each coin is moved passed the discrimination sensor , the controller is able to track the angular movement of that coin as the controller receives encoder counts from the encoder The numbers and denominations of the mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine 14 are continuously monitored and updated, such as noted above, noted in the references incorporated herein, or by any other conventional techniques and devices.
In accord with the present concepts, this information is used to continuously, periodically, intermittently, randomly, or occasionally, update the upper limit of the permissible coins in the associated receptacle 12 e. Although FIG.
In one aspect, the information on the number and denomination of the mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine 14 is stored in memory and is used to update the upper limit of the associated receptacle 12 after each batch of coins is input and processed S Such information may alternatively be used to update the upper limit of the associated receptacle continuously with each processed coin S The information on the number and denomination of the mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine 14 can also be used to update the upper limit of the associated receptacle 12 periodically or intermittently during coin processing e.
The information on the number and denomination of the mix of coins is compared, by controller , to an equation or equations, a look-up table, or the like, which may reside in memory or firmware, to determine whether or not the upper limit of the receptacle 12 may be adjusted upwardly or downwardly from a default or predetermined base level e.
The continuous updating of the upper limit of the receptacle 12 may start, for example, after a predetermined minimum number of coins is processed. The calculation of the maximum receptacle limit may thus advantageously be deferred until such time as it becomes more pertinent. The predetermined minimum number of coins required to initiate continuous or even batch calculation of the maximum receptacle limit may be set to any arbitrary number or combination.
The equation s or look-up table s used to modify the upper limit of receptacle 12 may be, for example, initially established by testing data. For example, a pre-programmed look-up table may initially comprise a floor of an absolute minimum number of coins e.
The look-up table could contain graded combinations of common coin mixes, or could be tailored for specific areas or applications having coin mixes skewed toward particular denominations. The equation or a look-up table may also be updated in-situ by an adaptive or intelligent control system configured to learn what limits are appropriate for given coin mixes.
The equation s may alternatively attempt to determine the upper receptacle 12 limit through, among other things, estimation of the aggregate volume occupied by the coins in the coin mix in combination with estimates of the spaces or voids between the coins.
The present concepts also include using the information on the number and denomination of the mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine 14 to update the upper limit of the associated receptacle 12 once following attainment of a predetermined milestone S In this aspect, the update to the upper limit of the receptacle 12 could occur at some arbitrary predetermined amount that is already near the upper limit of the coin receptacle based upon a predetermined coin mix e.
The arbitrary predetermined amount could also be set at or near below or above the aforementioned floor or absolute minimum number of coins e. Based on the large number of accumulated coins and the associated inertia of such large numbers of coins, the controller may determine and update the upper limit of the receptacle 12 only once based on various utilization calculations.
A first calculation would likely, but not necessarily, include a comparison of the coin mix of the arbitrary predetermined amount of coins to a standard e.
Depending on the existing coin mix, the controller might perform a second calculation including a direct extrapolation of the existing coin mix or an extrapolation based on one or more models in accord with appropriate instructions from the owner, lessor, or manufacturer of the coin processing machine The model for extrapolation could include, for example, an extrapolation of an expected coin mix e.
In a related aspect, the information on the number and denomination of the mix of coins input into the coin-processing machine 14 is used to update the upper limit of the associated receptacle 12 following attainment of successive predetermined milestones S As noted above, a first milestone could include some arbitrary predetermined amount that is already near the upper limit of the coin receptacle based upon a predetermined coin mix.
This predetermined coin mix could arbitrarily be assumed to include a disproportionate share of large denomination coins so as to trigger the initial milestone conservatively early, at which time the upper limit would be adjusted upon satisfaction of additional milestones. The successive predetermined milestones could comprise any event useful to ascertain the ability of the receptacle 12 to accept additional coins.
By way of example, the successive predetermined milestones could comprise additional numbers of coins in selected increments e.
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