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Pneumatic transfer terminal and method of operation

Imported: 24 Feb '17 | Published: 06 Jan '04

Daniel S. McIntyre, Rodney J. Reese

USPTO - Utility Patents

Abstract

A system (10) for carrying out transactions between a customer at a customer station (

14) and a service provider at a service provider station (

12), includes transferring a body (

96, 140, 170) through a pneumatic transfer tube (

26). The customer at the customer station provides inputs corresponding to a financial account through input devices on the body such as a card reader (

72, 146, 172) and a keypad (

74, 148, 172). Data input by the customer is stored in the memory (

82, 158) on the body. After transfer to the service provider station, data in the memory is output to a charge device (

56) which is operative to assess a charge to the customer's account responsive to data output from the memory.

Description

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a transaction system including a pneumatic transfer apparatus used for carrying out transactions in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of a portion of the service provider station as shown in FIG.

1.

FIG. 3 is a front plan view of the portion of the service provider station shown in FIG.

2.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of the service provider station and the transaction networks connected thereto for purposes of assessing charges against customers' accounts.

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of an exemplary carrier which may be used in connection with the system shown in FIG.

1.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of an alternative type carrier with an integral transaction data storage unit, which may be used in some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an alternative embodiment of a carrier and transaction data transfer unit that may be removably positioned in an interior area of a carrier or in an alternative device for transferring the unit between a customer and a service provider, such as a movable drawer.

FIGS. 8 through 10 are schematic views of transaction steps which are conducted through operation of the transaction transfer unit of an exemplary embodiment.

Claims

1. Apparatus comprising:

2. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the body further has in supporting connection therewith a plurality of keys, and wherein the body is adapted to receive at least one key input through the plurality of keys at the customer station, and to store data corresponding to the at least one key input in the memory and to output signals corresponding to the at least one key input through the output device when the body is at the service provider station.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the body further has in supporting connection therewith a pair of disposed seal rings adapted for slidable generally fluid tight engagement with an interior wall of the pneumatic tube.

4. The apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the body is removable from the pneumatic tube at both the customer station and at the service provider station.

5. The apparatus according to claim 4 and further comprising an item carrier separable from the body and movable in the tube when the body is removed from the tube between the customer station and the service provider station.

6. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the output device comprises a radiation emitting device.

7. The apparatus according to claim 6 wherein the output device comprises at least one LED.

8. The apparatus according to claim 6 wherein the output device is operative to output RF signals.

9. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the output device comprises an electrical connector.

10. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the output device comprises a display.

11. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the processor is operative to cause the card data to be erased from the memory after the signals have been output from the output device.

12. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the processor is operative to cause the card data and the data corresponding to the at least one key input to be erased from the memory after the signals corresponding thereto have been output from the output device.

13. The apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a reading device adapted to read outputs from the output device at the service provider station.

14. The apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the reading device is in operative connection with a point of sale terminal.

15. The apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the reading device is in operative connection with a cash register.

16. The apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the card data corresponds to an account of the user, and wherein the signals output by the output device correspond to the user's account.

17. The apparatus according to claim 16 and further comprising a charge device at the service provider station, wherein the charge device is in operative connection with a reading device operative to receive signals output by the output device, and wherein the charge device is operative to cause a charge to be assessed to the user's account responsive to receipt of the signals.

18. The apparatus according to claim 17 wherein the charge device includes at least one amount input device operative to input an amount, and wherein the charge device is operative to cause a charge in the amount to be assessed against the account.

19. The apparatus according to claim 18 and further comprising a pharmacy adjacent the service provider station.

20. The apparatus according to claim 19 and further comprising a drive-through lane adjacent to the customer station.

21. The apparatus according to claim 20 and further comprising at least one item in the pharmacy, wherein the at least one item costs the amount, and wherein the at least one item is delivered from the service provider station to the customer station through the pneumatic tube.

22. The apparatus according to claim 17 wherein the body further comprises a reading device and further comprising a further output device in operative connection with the charge device, and wherein the processor is operative to cause the card data to be erased from the memory responsive to at least one further output from the further output device.

23. The apparatus according to claim 22 wherein the further output is produced responsive to the charge device operating to charge the account the amount.

24. The apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a carrier, wherein the carrier includes an interior area, and wherein the carrier is movable in the tube between the customer station and the service provider station, and wherein the body is removably positionable within the interior area, wherein the body is positioned in the interior area when the carrier is moved from the customer station to the service provider station.

25. The apparatus according to claim 21 and further comprising a carrier, wherein the carrier includes an interior area, and wherein the carrier is movable in the tube between the customer station and the service provider station, and wherein the body is removably positionable within the interior area, wherein the body is positioned in the interior area when the carrier is moved from the customer station to the service provider station.

26. The apparatus according to claim 25 wherein the at least one item is delivered from the service provider station to the customer station in the interior area of the carrier when the body is not positioned in the interior area.

27. The apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a carrier movable in the pneumatic tube, wherein the carrier is not removable from the interior of the pneumatic tube by persons at either the customer station or the service provider station, and wherein the body is integral with the carrier.

28. The apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a carrier movable in the pneumatic tube, and wherein the body is integral with the carrier, and wherein the carrier includes an interior area, and wherein the interior area is bounded by a movable cover, and wherein the card reader is in supporting connection with the movable cover.

29. The apparatus according to claim 4 and further comprising:

30. The apparatus according to claim 29 and further comprising a movable drawer positioned in the wall opening, wherein the body is adapted to be moved through the wall opening in the movable drawer.

31. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the body includes a biometric reader, and wherein the memory stores data input through the biometric reader.

32. The apparatus according to claim 21 and wherein the memory is operative to hold data corresponding to instructions concerning the item, and wherein the instructions are output from the body through the output device.

33. The apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the memory is adapted to store medical history data.

34. Apparatus comprising: