Vending Machine Wireless Optical Communication System
Publication Date: 2017-Jun-06
The IP.com Prior Art Database
This article describes a wireless optical communication system connecting peripherals within a vending machine. This system minimizes the use of cables to facilitate installation of peripheral devices and servicing of all vending machine components. This reduction in cabling may also reduce electrical noise interference within the vending machine. In this publication, the problems faced by vending machine and component manufactures due to increased cabling congestion in vending machines are described. The cabling congestion problem arises due to increased functionalities in vending machines that require more data to operate efficiently. IrDA and Bluetooth solutions used to interact with vending machines have been disclosed, and limitations of these approaches have been discussed in the context of reducing cabling inside vending, along with security concerns posed by their use. Use of Li-Fi as a potential solution to create peer-to-peer networks inside vending machines has been explored.
Title Vending Machine Wireless Optical Communication System
This article describes a wireless optical communication system connecting
peripherals within a vending machine. This system minimizes the use of
cables to facilitate installation of peripheral devices and servicing of all
vending machine components. This reduction in cabling may also reduce
electrical noise interference within the vending machine.
Modern vending machines may internally contain many peripherals in
addition to the primary host machine controller. These devices may
include, but are not limited to:
• Currency acceptors - such as for banknotes or coins • Credit/debit card acceptors • Printers • Sensors - such as for temperature, location, humidity, etc. • Communications - such as for cellular antennas, Bluetooth, host
communication logging devices, etc.
Existing industry standards for the connection of these peripherals to the
host controller (such as MDB and BDV) have a master/slave architecture,
with the host machine controller operating as the central hub. Figure 1
shows images of cables housed within a vending machine in a typical
disorderly fashion. As vending machines grow in both capability and
sophistication, the industry faces escalating issues with cable
management, including material cost, technician training, assembly time,
and likelihood of circuit failure.
Figure 1. Cables inside a vending machine closet
Electrical power is often readily available and easily accessible throughout
the vending machine without requiring individual lines connecting back to a central source. Communication from each device to a central controller,
however, is often unique, and therefore also requires unique
communication lines. As a result, the vending machine may become:
• Congested with cabling which may lead to difficulties in installation, maintenance, and avoiding inadvertent disconnections
• Susceptible to electrical noise interference due to proximity of cabling
• Unnecessarily expensive and inefficient The previously best known solution to the cabling problem is short range
wireless communication technology, such as Bluetooth or Zigbee. This
technology, however, has the drawback that each digital radio device
needs to establish which devices it should partner with upon installation.
Since vending machines are often installed in banks of multiple machines,
the possibility of unwanted inter-machine cross talk is real. Furthermore,
such machines cannot be placed in locations such as hospitals, where
extraneous RF emissions could pose a nuisance. Requiring a manual
pairing process burdens the installer with training requirements and introduces a greater likelihood of error.
Cabling congestion exists in all current vending machine implementations.
Unique cable routing paths offer improvements at the expense of longer
and more expensive cables. For example, a coin changer could,
depending on functionalities, hav...