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Title:
A COIN HANDLING APPARATUS AND A METHOD FOR IDENTIFYING COINS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/009791
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The disclosure relates to a coin handling apparatus, said apparatus comprising: an input unit arranged to receive a batch of coins; an aligning mechanism arranged for forming received coins from the input unit into a sequence of singular coins; a transport mechanism for transporting the sequence of singular coins; a sensor unit, which is arranged to perform measurements on the sequence of singular coins and output coin information associated with properties of a singular coin; a processor configured to receive the outputted coin information from the sensor unit, process the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria, and identify whether the singular coin is to be marked; and a marking unit arranged to selectively mark an identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins. The disclosure further relates to a method for identifying coins.

Inventors:
JÖNSSON, Manfred (Fiskarevägen 10, Staffanstorp, 245 35, SE)
BROWN, Simon Scott (5 Marsh Road, Edgmond Shropshire TF 108EN, Edgmond Shropshire TF 108EN, TF 108EN, GB)
Application Number:
SE2018/050712
Publication Date:
January 10, 2019
Filing Date:
June 29, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SCAN COIN AB (Nordenskiöldsgatan 24, Malmö, 211 19, SE)
International Classes:
G07D5/00; G06K19/06; G07D3/14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AWA SWEDEN AB (Linus Grönlund, Box 5117, Malmö, 20071, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A coin handling apparatus (100, 200), said apparatus comprising:

an input unit (104, 204) arranged to receive a batch of coins;

an aligning mechanism (106, 206) arranged for forming received coins from the input unit into a sequence of singular coins;

a transport mechanism (108, 208) for transporting the sequence of singular coins;

a sensor unit (1 10, 210), which is arranged to perform measurements on the sequence of singular coins and output coin information associated with properties of a singular coin;

a processor (120, 220) configured to receive the outputted coin information from the sensor unit (1 10, 210), process the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria, and identify whether the singular coin is to be marked; and

a marking unit (130, 230) arranged to selectively mark an identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins.

2. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to claim 1 , wherein the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining at least two coin categories, said coin categories comprising marking coin categories and non-marking coin categories, determining which coin category of the at least two coin categories that the singular coin belongs to, upon determining that the singular coin belongs to a marking coin category outputting a signal for triggering marking of the singular coin.

3. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to claim 2, wherein the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining two or more marking coin categories and wherein the outputted signal is unique for each marking coin category.

4. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of claim 2-3, wherein the marking unit (300, 400, 500) is arranged to mark the identified singular coin belonging to a specific marking coin category in a way unique for said specific marking coin category.

5. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the marking unit (500) comprises a painting unit (510) arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by applying an identification mark on a surface of the identified singular coin.

6. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to claim 5, wherein the identification mark comprises one from the list of: a pattern of paint having a visible color when illuminated by white light, a pattern of fluorescent paint emitting a fluorescence in the visible spectral region when excited by an external light source.

7. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the marking unit (500) comprises a stamping unit (560) arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by applying an identification mark on a surface of the identified singular coin, said identification mark being an indentation into said surface.

8. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a sorting unit (150, 250) arranged to sort identified singular coins after said coins having been marked.

9. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor unit (1 10, 210) measures one or more from the list of: the weight of an individual coin; the diameter of an individual coin, the thickness of the individual coin, the magnetic moment of the individual coin, the conductivity of the individual coin, and the color of the individual coin.

10. The coin handling apparatus (100, 200) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the pre-defined criteria is used to determine if an individual coin is one from the list of: a counterfeit coin (C), a foreign coin (F), an unfit coin (U), and a genuine coin.

1 1 .A method 700 for identifying coins, said method comprising:

receiving (S702), using an input unit, a batch of coins;

forming (S704), using an aligning mechanism, a sequence of singular coins from the batch of coins received from the input unit;

transporting (S706), by a transport mechanism, the sequence of singular coins to a sensor unit;

measuring (S708), using the sensor unit, on the sequence of singular coins to provide coin information associated with properties of a singular coin; processing (S710), by a processing unit, the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria, and identify (S712) whether the singular coin is to be marked; and

upon identifying that a singular coin is to be marked:

selectively mark (S714), by a marking unit, the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins.

Description:
A COIN HANDLING APPARATUS AND A METHOD FOR IDENTIFYING

COINS

Field of the invention

The present invention relates to a coin handling apparatus. More specifically, the disclosure relates to a coin handling apparatus arranged to handle unfit, foreign or counterfeit coins. The disclosure further relates to a method for identifying coins.

Background

Automatic coin handling is convenient for handling large amounts of coins. Also, manual coin counting should not be performed by a sole individual, as it could provide an opportunity for theft or fraud. Thus, coin handling apparatuses are popular for counting and sorting coins.

In some cases, coin handling apparatuses are used for recycling of coins, i.e. coins may both be deposited and dispensed from the coin handling apparatus. Such coin handling apparatuses may typically be used to allow depositing and dispensing of coins for shop owners, bank personnel and other users regularly handling larger amounts of coins.

However, in addition to automatic handling of coins, the coin handling apparatus should ensure that certain coins being deposited are not allowed to be dispensed so as to be brought back into circulation. For instance, counterfeit coins should not be re-circulated by the coin handling apparatus. Further, the coin handling apparatus could be used to take unfit coins, which may have been subject to excessive wear, out of circulation. For these reasons, coin handling apparatuses may comprise one or more sensors arranged for measuring properties of the coins in order for the coin handling apparatus to determine if a coin is allowed to be dispensed to a user, thus allowing the coin to get back into circulation, or if the coin should be disallowed to be dispensed to a user, thus preventing the coin to get back into circulation.

When a coin that should not be put back into circulation is detected, it may be desired to store information about the coin. For instance, measured properties of the coins may be stored so that data may be collected, which may later be used in order to improve determinations of which coins should be considered fit to be brought back into circulation. However, it may also be desired to keep track of the coins for which certain measured properties are obtained. In this regard, the coin handling apparatus could be provided with complex controlling mechanisms in order to sort the coins in a specific order, such that the position of a specific coin for which the measured properties are stored may be known. When the coins are to be transported from the coin handling apparatus, it may be even more difficult to handle the coins so that the position of the specific coin is still known, even in a batch of coins.

Hence, it would be desired to improve handling of coins within a coin handling apparatus so that a position of coin in a coin handling process could be easily ascertained, especially for specific coins for which properties are measured which makes the coin stand out, e.g. by the coin being unfit or counterfeit.

Summary

It is an object to mitigate, alleviate or eliminate one or more of the above-identified deficiencies in the art and disadvantages singly or in any combination.

According to a first aspect, the above and other problems are solved in full, or at least in part, by a coin handling apparatus, said apparatus comprising: an input unit arranged to receive a batch of coins; an aligning mechanism arranged for forming received coins from the input unit into a sequence of singular coins; a transport mechanism for transporting the sequence of singular coins; a sensor unit, which is arranged to perform measurements on the sequence of singular coins and output coin information associated with properties of a singular coin; a processor configured to receive the outputted coin information from the sensor unit, process the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria, and identify whether the singular coin is to be marked; and a marking unit arranged to selectively mark an identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins. This is advantageous as the status of each individual coin being marked may be read directly from the coin itself. Thus, the coin handling apparatus must not keep the coins in well controlled locations, since the marking of individual coins may be used to keep track of the coin.

Further, it may not be as necessary to keep unwanted (e.g. unfit, foreign or counterfeit) coins separated from wanted coins, as the marking of coins may be used to later easily separate the unwanted coins from wanted coins. This may be utilized in simplifying the construction of the coin handling apparatus. Another advantage is that the coin marking significantly decreases the risk of mistakes due to an intended or accidental mixing of unwanted and wanted coins, for example by CIT personnel and/or by personnel at the money issuing authority.

According to an embodiment, the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining at least two coin categories, said coin categories comprising marking coin categories and non-marking coin categories, determining which coin category of the at least two coin categories that the singular coin belongs to, upon determining that the singular coin belongs to a marking coin category outputting a signal for triggering marking of the singular coin.

The use of coin categories allows for increasing the level of detail in the readable status of the coins. Specifically, the outputted signal may be different dependent on which marking coin category a singular coin belongs to. This is advantageous as it allows for the singular coin to be marked in a way conveying more detail.

Specifically, according to an embodiment, the marking unit is arranged to mark the identified singular coin belonging to a specific marking coin category in a way unique for said specific marking coin category. Thus, the marking of the coin will not only convey the information that the coin is unwanted, but also convey the underlying reason for the decision to mark the coin as unwanted.

There may be more than one reason for marking a coin and this may affect the processing of the coin information. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining two or more marking coin categories and wherein the outputted signal is unique for each marking coin category. This way, the processor allows for informing the coin handling apparatus not only that a singular coin should be marked, but also why it should be marked and how it should be marked.

There may be many underlying reasons for deciding to mark a coin as unwanted. For example, a coin may be considered to be counterfeit. Another reason may be that a coin is of a denomination not accepted by the coin handling apparatus. Yet another reason may be that a coin is of a currency not accepted by the coin handling apparatus. Yet another reason may be that a coin is damaged and therefore considered unfit for being in circulation. Yet another reason may be that a coin may be very old making it unsuitable for being in circulation even if it is legally valid. For example, the coin may be of an obsolete design not readily recognized by the people using them. Thus, the marking coin categories may be one or more from the list of: a counterfeit coin category, a foreign coin category, and an unfit coin category.

In fact, if at least two different markings are provided on the coins, genuine coins may also be marked such that the marking associated with genuine coins may immediately signal that the coin is genuine in further processing of the coin. Thus, when genuine coins are marked, coins may not necessarily be determined as belonging to a non-marking category, as all coins could belong to marking categories. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the pre-defined criteria is used to determine if an individual coin is one from the list of: a counterfeit coin, a foreign coin, an unfit coin, and a genuine coin.

When coins are marked based on coin category, each coin belonging to a specific coin category may be marked in the same way. This implies that the marking unit may be very simple, as the marking unit may always apply the same type of marking per coin category. If only one or a few different ways of marking of coins are to be supported, the apparatus may comprise dedicated elements for the marking of each coin category, which implies that the dedicated elements may have a simple structure. Further, a simple marking which identifies the coin category to which a coin belongs may be used for quickly handling coins based on category. This may be used within the apparatus, wherein the coins may be sorted by a sorting unit such that coins are sorted by category. The sorting unit may identify coins belonging to a certain category based on the marking of the coin. Also, the marking of the coins per coin category may simplify handling of the coins after coins are collected from the apparatus. For instance, all coins deposited into the apparatus may be stored in a common storage, which may be emptied in a single operation, e.g. by CIT personnel. The coins may then be transported to a central coin handling location, where coins belonging to a certain category may be easily sorted out based on the marking of the coins. This may for example be used to ensure that unfit coins that are to be removed from circulation may be easily recognized and sorted out in the central coin handling location.

Coins may be marked on a group level as disclosed hereinabove, but may equally well be marked on an individual level. Thus, according to an embodiment, the marking unit is arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins in a unique way, thus allowing the identified singular coin to be traceable to its corresponding properties. Thus, each specific marked coin may contain information on its marking which may be traceable to a set of data pertaining to the specific marked coin. This is advantageous as it allows for increasing the level of detail even further.

Specifically, the set of data may comprise more than the underlying reason for marking the coin (e.g. counterfeit coin, unfit coin etc.). For example, the set of data may comprise the date and time of marking the coin, the identity of the coin handling apparatus that marked the coin, the type of sensors used to measure the coin information associated with the properties of the coin. The set of data may be read directly from the marking of the coin. Alternatively, the marking contains unique information which may be used to trace the set of data for example in a database associated with the coin handling

apparatus.

Marking may be carried out in a variety of ways of which examples will be provided hereinbelow. The term marking should in this context be interpreted broadly. It is not required that the marking is structurally affecting the coin. Furthermore, it is not required that the coin is in fixed connection with the marking. The requirement is merely that the coin is univocally associated with a marking.

One way of marking a coin could be to position the coin inside a second object. The marking could be the second object in itself but may, additionally, comprise a separate marking of the second object. An example of such a second object may be a small coin container in which a coin may be enclosed. According to an embodiment, the marking unit comprises a coin container storage unit arranged to store a plurality of coin containers and the marking unit is further arranged to mark the identified singular coin by enclosing said singular coin in a specific coin container from the plurality of coin containers.

The coin container may be made of a plastic material. The coin container may comprise a bottom part and a top part arranged to fixedly attach to each other using a snap fit mechanism enclosing the coin in- between.

Marking the coin using a coin container may be advantageous as it provides a marking which is reversible and, additionally, easy to remove. Hence, the marked coins may be quite easily unmarked at a later stage, which may be beneficial. For example, coins marked as unfit and hence sent for destruction may be unmarked prior to the coins entering the destruction process, thus preventing material of unwanted composition to enter the destruction process.

Another way of marking a coin is to adhere a label to a surface of the coin. Such a surface could preferably be a flat surface of the coin. It is understood that the same way of marking may also be used on a coin container arranged to enclose a coin. Specifically, according to an

embodiment, the marking unit comprises a labeling unit arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by adhering a label to a surface of: the identified singular coin, or a coin container enclosing said identified singular coin, using an adhesive. Each label has a first surface arranged to adhere to the surface of the coin or the surface of the coin container and a second surface facing outwardly, said second surface allowing for defining a specific appearance of the marked coin.

The labels may be prefabricated such as to comprise a pressure sensitive adhesive on the first surface of each label. Such labels may be for example a type of stickers. A label may be stored with its first surface reversibly attached to a supporting object such as to keep the adhesive fresh and free from contaminants. The supporting object may extend to cover the first surfaces of more than one label. The supporting object may comprise a plastic surface material arranged to be in contact with the adhesive of the first surface of the label. The plastic material may allow for the attachment between the label and the supporting structure to be reversible. In an embodiment, the supporting structure is an elongated piece of paper equipped with a plurality of labels. The arrangement comprising the plurality of labels and the elongated piece of paper may then be arranged to be stored rolled together. In an alternative embodiment, each label has its own supporting structure. In such an embodiment, the labels may be arranged to be stored in a stacked configuration within the coin handling apparatus.

Alternatively, the labels may be prefabricated such as to not comprise an adhesive. In such a case, a layer of adhesive may be deposited onto a first surface of a label prior to the label being adhered to the surface of the coin or the surface of the coin container.

The labels may have different properties. These may be used to convey a specific coin marking. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the label has one or more label properties being unique for a label category, the one or more label properties being one from the list of: label dimensions, a label shape, a label color, and a label surface structure. This may be advantageous as it provides a simple way to selectively mark the coins without having to actively create the marking within the coin handling apparatus. Instead, the marking may be prepared in advance by an

appropriate design of the labels. Labels may be stored within the coin handling apparatus. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the marking unit further comprises a label storage unit arranged to house a plurality of labels. In an alternative embodiment, the marking unit further comprises a label storage unit arranged to house a plurality of labels sorted according to the one or more label properties of the labels. It is understood that many alternative embodiments exist for storing labels within the coin handling apparatus and that the choice depend not only on the labels, but also on the way the labels are to be adhered onto the surface of the coins or the surface of the coin containers. For example, in an embodiment where all labels in the plurality of labels have the same label properties, it may be an advantage to use prefabricated labels on a roll. In an alternative embodiment where the labels may have a relatively large number of different label properties, it may be an advantage to store the labels in stacked configurations, for example in a label storage unit comprising an array of compartments wherein each compartment is arranged to house labels of specific label properties.

The marking of the coin may be further developed by allowing the coin handling apparatus to provide a specific print on the labels. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the marking unit further comprises a label printing unit arranged to provide a print on a label. The label printing unit may be a laser printer but may alternatively be based on the inkjet technology. The skilled person realizes that the aforementioned techniques makes it possible to provide label prints of graphics and text using full color, which may be beneficial in some embodiments. However, a simpler and cheaper technology may also be used. For example, the label printing unit may be arranged to provide a print on the labels by use of stamping.

It is to be understood that the print on the label must not be a visual print. For example, the label printing unit may be arranged to provide a print which fluoresces when illuminated with a UV source. Alternatively, the label printing unit may be arranged to provide a micro-scale print on the labels which cannot be read with the naked eye. The term print should be

interpreted broadly and must not be limited to a visual print. For example, the label printing unit may be further arranged to write an RFID code into a label. In such a case, labels equipped with RFID inlays may be used. The information printed into the labels may then, at least partly, be stored into the RFID inlay.

It is to be understood that the alternative kinds of prints may be combined in any way. For example, The RFID printing may be combined with a visual print on the surface of the label. This implies that the label printing unit may be arranged to provide more than one printing technology.

By use of the label printing unit, the labels may be designed in many ways. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the label printing unit is arranged to print a code on the label. Such a code may be used to associate a specific coin to a set of coin properties as disclosed hereinabove.

Specifically, according to an embodiment, the code printed on the label is one from the list of: a bar code, a QR code, a EAN code, and a color code comprising two or more colored areas.

An alternative way of marking the coins is to provide a marking directly onto a surface of a coin or a surface of a coin container. This may be achieved in many ways. According to an embodiment, the marking unit is arranged to print a code directly on the coin. The code printed on the coin may be one from the list of: a bar code, a QR code, a EAN code, and a color code comprising two or more colored areas.

According to another embodiment, the marking unit comprises a painting unit arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by applying an identification mark on a surface of: the identified singular coin, or a coin container enclosing said identified singular coin.

Various kinds of paint may be used. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the identification mark comprises one from the list of: a pattern of paint having a visible color when illuminated by white light, a pattern of fluorescent paint emitting a fluorescence in the visible spectral region when excited by an external light source. Marking directly onto the coins or coin containers may be advantageous as it provides a way to reduce the complexity of the coin handling apparatus.

The use of a painting unit may be particularly advantageous when coins are marked to identify that coins belong to a coin category. Thus, the painting unit may simply be configured to apply a spot of paint on coins, e.g. on unfit coins or counterfeit coins. Hence, the marking unit may be realized with simple components, while markings on the coins may easily detected for sorting of the coins.

In some cases, for example when detecting one or more types of counterfeit coins, it may be desirable to provide irreversible markings on the coins such as to prevent tampering with the marking. Thus according to an embodiment, the marking unit comprises a stamping unit arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by applying an identification mark on a surface of: the identified singular coin, or a coin container enclosing said identified singular coin, said identification mark being an indentation into said surface.

It is to be understood that the alternative ways of marking disclosed hereinabove may be combined in any way. Specifically, the coin marking unit may be arranged to provide more than one type of marking of a coin. This implies that the coin marking unit may comprise more than one sub-unit, such as for example a labelling unit and a stamping unit. As another example, label printing may be combined with the use of labels with prefabricated

appearance. For example, labels of various color may be used to categorize the marked coins according to marking coin categories (e.g. blue color for counterfeit coins, yellow color for unfit coins and green color for foreign coins). The label printing unit may then be arranged to print a code onto the labels providing an information being redundant and/or extending the level of information already provided by the colored labels. As an example, the label printing unit may be arranged to print a bar code on each marked coin so as to associate each coin with a set of coin properties or associate each coin with a set of data in a database, wherein the coin properties and other information about the coin may be stored.

According to an embodiment, the coin handling apparatus further comprises a sorting unit arranged to sort identified singular coins after said coins having been marked. Such a sorting unit may be for example a unit for active sorting, wherein a signal may be transmitted to control actuators which may interact with coins for forcing coins into compartments so as to sort coins by properties in the compartments. The sorting unit may alternatively be a unit for passive sorting, wherein the unit may be physically adapted to act on the coins to sort the coins depending on properties of the coins. For instance, the passive sorting may sort coins by size so that coins of a certain size fall through an opening of a size corresponding to the size of the coin so as to be directed to a specific compartment.

Sorting of coins may be advantageously used for some applications in order to separate marked coins from unmarked coins. Also, the marked coins may be sorted by categories as well as unmarked coins may be sorted by denomination. The separate storing of the marked coins from the unmarked coins allows for separately emptying the marked coins from the coin handling apparatus so as to handle the marked coins in a proper manner.

The properties of the coins in order to enable identifying whether a coin is to be marked may be determined in a number of ways. Hence, the sensor unit may comprise at least one sensor arranged to measure at least one property of the coins. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the sensor unit measures one or more from the list of: the weight of an individual coin; the diameter of an individual coin, the thickness of the individual coin, the magnetic moment of the individual coin, the conductivity of the individual coin, and the color of the individual coin.

The coin information determined for enabling identifying whether a singular coin is to be marked may also be used as input to a sorting of coins. The sorting of coins may thus use measurements of coin properties as input for sorting of coins. However, the sorting of coins may also or alternatively use a marking of a coin as basis for sorting the coin. Further, the coin properties used in coin sorting may be determined by the sensor unit, which also provides coin information for identifying whether singular coins are to be marked. Alternatively, the coin properties used in coin sorting may be determined by a separate, additional sensor unit.

According to a second aspect there is provided a method for identifying coins, said method comprising: receiving, using an input unit, a batch of coins; forming, using an aligning mechanism, a sequence of singular coins from the batch of coins received from the input unit; transporting, by a transport mechanism, the sequence of singular coins to a sensor unit;

measuring, using the sensor unit, on the sequence of singular coins to provide coin information associated with properties of a singular coin;

processing, by a processing unit, the coin information in relation to pre- defined criteria, and identify whether the singular coin is to be marked; and upon identifying that a singular coin is to be marked: selectively mark, by a marking unit, the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins.

Effects and features of this second aspect are largely analogous to those described above in connection with the first aspect. Embodiments mentioned in relation to the first aspect are largely compatible with the second aspect.

Brief descriptions of the drawings

The invention will by way of example be described in more detail with reference to the appended schematic drawings, which shows presently preferred embodiments of the invention.

Figure 1 shows a schematic side view of the coin handling apparatus 100 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

Figure 2 shows a schematic side view of the coin handling apparatus 200 according to another embodiment of the present disclosure.

Figure 3a shows a perspective view of a marking unit 300 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure in which coins are marked using labels that are printed by a printing unit of the marking unit 300.

Figure 3b shows a top view of coins marked with the marking unit 300 of Fig. 3a.

Figure 3c shows a top view of a coin marked with the marking unit 300 of Fig. 3a when the printing unit is adapted for printing a bar code on a label.

Figure 4a shows a perspective view of a marking unit 400 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure in which coins are marked using prefabricated labels.

Figure 4b shows a top view of coins marked with the marking unit 400 of Fig. 4a when supplied with prefabricated labels disclosing a letter on its second side. Figure 4c-d shows a top view of coins marked with the marking unit 400 of Fig. 4a when supplied with alternative types of prefabricated labels.

Figure 5a shows a perspective view of a marking unit 500 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure in which coins are irreversibly marked using a stamping unit and reversibly marked using a painting unit.

Figure 5b shows a top view of coins having been marked, by the painting unit, as foreign and unfit, respectively.

Figure 5c shows a top view of a coins having been marked as counterfeit by the stamping unit.

Figure 6a shows a perspective view of a coin container 600 and a coin according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

Figure 6b shows a perspective view of the coin container 600 and the coin shown in Fig. 6a when the coin container is closed, enclosing the coin.

Figure 6c shows a perspective view of a coin enclosed in a coin container according an embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the coin has been further marked by a label being adhered onto a surface of the top part of the coin container.

Figure 7 is a flow chart of a method according to an embodiment. Detailed description

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which currently preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided for thoroughness and completeness, and fully convey the scope of the invention to the skilled person.

Figure 1 shows a coin handling apparatus 100 schematically in a side view. The coin handling apparatus 100 is of the kind typically used in banks, larger malls or the like and are used for serving the personnel with coins. This includes the service to dispense coins on a user's request. For example, a cashier at a shop may in this way obtain a requested amount of coins at the start of his or her shift in order to have a supply for providing change of currency for the customers. Likewise, the cashier may use the coin handling apparatus 100 to deposit a surplus of coins after his/her shift.

The coin handling apparatus 100 comprises a housing 102. The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises an input unit 104 arranged to receive a batch of coins. This allows for a user of the coin handling apparatus 100 to deposit a batch of coins in a convenient way. Typically, the coins are deposited in an unordered manner into a receiving section of the input unit 104. The input unit 104 is arranged such as to form a part of the housing 102.

The input unit could for example comprise a hopper, which may be arranged to receive a large batch of coins and which may be arranged to vibrate so as to transport coins to an opening for falling into the housing of the coin handling apparatus 100 and being further processed in the coin handling apparatus 100.

The coins are then transported to an aligning mechanism 106 arranged for forming received coins from the input unit into a sequence of singular coins.

The aligning mechanism 106 may be arranged to move incoming coins past one or more narrow passages for separating coins which are overlapping each other. Also or alternatively, the aligning mechanism may comprise a rotating disc such that coins may be forced towards edges of the disc, wherein the coins may be formed into a sequence along an edge of the disc.

The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises a transport mechanism 108 for transporting the sequence of singular coins. The transport mechanism 108 may comprise guiding rails arranged in the housing 102 such that the coins may be forced by gravity to move along the guiding rails.

However, the transport mechanism 108 may also or alternatively comprise transport belt(s) which may be driven so as to transport coins on the belt(s).

It should be realized that the internal transport and alignment of coins from the input unit 104, the aligning mechanism 106 and the transporting mechanism 108 may be achieved in a number of different manners. It should be understood that many alternative ways exist and are available for the skilled person for achieving said internal transport and sorting of coins within the scope of the claims. The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises a sensor unit 1 10, which is arranged to perform measurements on the sequence of singular coins. The sensor unit 1 10 measures one or more from the list of: the weight of an individual coin; the diameter of an individual coin, the thickness of the individual coin, the magnetic moment of the individual coin, the conductivity of the individual coin, and the color of the individual coin. The sensor unit 1 10 may thus comprise more than one sensor arranged to measure more than one property of the coins.

The sensor unit 1 10 is further arranged to output coin information associated with properties of a singular coin. In the embodiment, sensor data recorded by the one or more sensors of the sensor unit 1 10 are processed to evaluate characteristics of the singular coin, said characteristics being prepared in a structured way in the form of coin information. However, the processing of the sensor data may alternatively be carried out elsewhere in the coin handling apparatus 100 or even at a separate location such as for example on a server. In such a case, the coin information may contain raw data not directly interpretable.

In the embodiment, the coin information is stored in a database within the coin handling apparatus 100. The database is accessible from outside by use of e.g. an Ethernet connection. This allows for logging the information pertaining to the measured coins, creating a log database. The log database may comprise coin information on all coins deposited into the coin handling apparatus but may, alternatively, be limited to coin information for marked coins only.

Coin information for a specific coin may be stored with an identifier in the database. In particular, coin information could comprise sensor data, which may be useful for later analysis e.g. by analyzing the sensor data of counterfeit coins and/or unfit coins in order to improve correct detection of coins. Coin information may also comprise information on when the coin was deposited and by who, so that e.g. a source for counterfeit coins may be determined.

The marking of coins may be based on providing an identifier on the coin so as to associate the coin with specific stored coin information. This allows the coin information to be easily retrieved for a specific coin without requiring that a location or position of the coin is constantly tracked.

The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises a processor 120 configured to receive the outputted coin information from the sensor unit 1 10. The processor 120 is further arranged to process the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria and identify whether the singular coin is to be marked. The predefined criteria may comprise a set of criteria based on some or all of the measured properties or combinations of such properties. Different sets of pre-defined criteria may be defined for different categories of coins. The pre-defined criteria may be for example: accepted range(s) of weights for a coin, accepted range(s) of diameters or other size measures for a coin, accepted range(s) of thicknesses for a coin, accepted range(s) of magnetic moment for a coin, accepted range(s) of conductivity for a coin, or accepted ranges of any other measures that may describe a property of a coin, such as a measure of a color of the coin, etc. The predefined criteria are typically input to the coin handling apparatus 100 when serving the apparatus 100 and prepared by the manufacturer. However, as coins are regularly updated by cash issuing authorities and new legislation affecting coins regularly comes into force, new features may be introduced at any time. Thus, it may be required that the predefined criteria are regularly updated.

The processor 120 may be implemented as a microprocessor, which may be programmable for controlling operation of the microprocessor. For instance, the processor 120 may be a central processing unit (CPU). The processor 120 may alternatively be a special-purpose circuitry for providing only specific logical operations. Thus, the processor 120 may be provided in the form of an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), an application- specific instruction-set processor (ASIP) or a field-programmable gate array.

The processor 120 may further comprise or be connected to a nonvolatile memory for storing information, such as instructions for controlling operation of the processor 120.

The processor 120 may further comprise a communication unit for sending control signals, in order to control functionality of other components of the apparatus 100. The processor 120 may be arranged to control the aligning mechanism 106, the transport mechanism 108, the sensor unit 1 10, as well as a marking unit 130 and a sorting unit 150, which will be described below. Also, the communication unit may receive information from an external computer system for updating functionality of the apparatus 100 and/or for providing information of coins deposited into the apparatus 100.

The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises a marking unit 130 arranged to selectively mark an identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins. The marking unit 130 will be described in detail later.

The coin handling apparatus 100 further comprises a sorting unit 150 arranged to sort identified singular coins after said coins having been marked. The sorting unit 150 may sort coins to separate unmarked coins from marked coins. However, the sorting unit 150 may also sort the marked coins by different categories and/or sort the unmarked coins, e.g. by different denominations.

The coin handling apparatus may be arranged to mark coins following different methodologies with a different level of detail with regards to categorization. Specifically, there may be different reasons for why a coin should be marked and these reasons may be different in number dependent on the application.

The embodiment of Fig. 1 is based upon a methodology to mark all unwanted coins in the same way, leaving the rest of the coins unmarked. Thus, there will be two coin categories: a marked coin category and an unmarked coin category. The appearance of the marked coins will be the same, or at least similar, for all marked coins. This methodology would ensure that the unwanted coins would not be accidentally mixed with the wanted coins. It would, however, not provide any information disclosing the reason for why a specific coin was marked. This information may be added by extending the number of marked coin categories such as to allow categorizing the marked coins according to the reason for them being marked. These reasons could be for example that the coin is deemed to be counterfeit, unfit or damaged, foreign, of wrong denomination etc. As an example of the latter methodology, Fig. 2 schematically shows a coin handling apparatus 200 where there are two marked coin categories and wherein the coins are marked differently dependent on coin category.

It should be understood that the coin handling apparatus 100 may also mark coins according to two or more marked coin categories, without necessarily sorting the coins to separate the different marked coin categories from each other.

The processor may be arranged to operate following either one of these methodologies. Thus, in the processor, the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining at least two coin categories wherein said coin categories comprises marking coin categories and non-marking coin categories. The processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria further comprises determining which coin category of the at least two coin categories that the singular coin belongs to. If the singular coin is determined to belong to a marking coin category, the processor outputs a signal for triggering marking of the singular coin.

In a case where the processor is arranged to operate following the first methodology where there is only a single marked coin category, such as for the processor 120 in Fig. 1 , the decision is Boolean: Either the processor makes the decision that the singular coin should be marked, or the processor makes the decision that the singular coin should not be marked.

In a case where the processor is arranged to operate following the second methodology where there is more than one marked coin category, such as for the processor 220 in Fig. 2, the processing of the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria comprises defining two or more marking coin categories. The signal output from the processor will then be unique for each marking coin category or may be uniquely transmitted to a sub-unit of the marking unit for marking coins according to the marking coin category. The signal is received by the marking unit which is arranged to mark the identified singular coin belonging to a specific marking coin category in a way unique for said specific marking coin category. The embodiment in Fig. 2, wherein there are two marked coin categories, serves as an example of this methodology. However, it should be understood that there may be any number of marked coin categories.

The coins that has been determined to be in a marking coin category may, alternatively or additionally, be marked using a unique marking, such as for example using a unique code. Thus, the marking unit may be arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins in a unique way, thus allowing the identified singular coin to be traceable to its

corresponding properties.

The marking unit will now be described. Generally, the marking unit may comprise one or more sub-units, wherein each sub-unit is arranged to mark a coin in a specific way. There thus exist numerous alternative embodiments featuring various combinations. Three embodiments will now be described in detail.

Fig. 3a shows a marking unit 300 arranged to selectively mark a singular coin in a sequence of singular coins 301 . The marking unit comprises a labeling unit 302 arranged to adhere a label to a surface of a coin using an adhesive. The coins are transported by the transport mechanism to an active region 304 of the marking unit 300. In case a singular coin is identified, by the processor, to be marked, a signal is sent from the processor to the marking unit 300. As soon as the identified coin appears in the active region 304 of the marking unit 300, the marking unit 300 marks the coin.

In the example embodiment shown in Fig. 3a, the marking unit 300 comprises a labeling unit 310 arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins by adhering a label to a surface of the identified singular coin using an adhesive. The marking unit 300 further comprises a label storage unit 320 arranged to house a plurality of labels 322. In the example embodiment of Fig 3a, the plurality of labels 322 is stored on a roll onto a drum 324.

Each label 322 has a first surface arranged to adhere to the surface of the coin and a second surface facing outwardly, said second surface allowing for defining a specific appearance of the marked coin.

The marking unit 300 further comprises a label printing unit 330 arranged to provide a print on a label. In the example embodiment of Fig. 3a, the printing unit 330 is arranged to print on the second surface of a label present within an active area of the printing unit 330. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 3a, the printing unit is arranged to print a letter disclosing the reason for why the coin is marked. In the example, C stands for Counterfeit coin, F stands for Foreign coin, and U stands for Unfit coin. Fig. 3b shows three marked coins 340C, 340F, 340U which has been marked using the marking unit 300 shown in Fig. 3a. The three marked coins 340C, 340F, 340U are marked as counterfeit (C), Foreign (F) and Unfit (U), respectively. The marking unit 300 has marked the coins 340C, 340F, 340U by adhering a label 342C, 342F, 342U onto each of the three coins 340C, 340F, 340U. On each of the labels the printing unit 330 has printed a letter 344C, 344F, 344U disclosing the reason for why the coin is marked. In other words, the letter denotes the marked coin category the coin belongs to.

The label printing unit may be arranged to print more complex prints. For example, in an embodiment, the label printing unit may be further arranged to print the time and date of marking the coin. The print may alternatively be a code. In some embodiments, the code is a unique code which makes it possible to associate a specific coin to the coin properties of the specific coin previously measured by the sensor unit. Such unique codes may be for example one from the list of: a bar code, a QR code, a EAN code, and a color code comprising two or more colored areas. Fig. 3c shows a marked coin 350 according to an embodiment wherein the coin 350 is uniquely marked by a label 352 on which is printed a unique bar code 354.

In the embodiment shown in Fig. 3a, all labels have, prior to entering the printing unit 330, the same appearance and the marked coins are thus identified by their respective print. The label merely acts as a carrier for the print. In an alternative embodiment, the marking unit may comprise a label storage unit arranged to house a plurality of labels sorted according to the one or more label properties of the labels. This allows for each label to have one or more label properties being unique for a label category. The one or more label properties may be one from the list of: label dimensions, a label shape, a label color, and a label surface structure. Thus, coins may be marked using labels of different appearance dependent on the marking coin category.

Fig 4a shows a marking unit 400 according to an embodiment where more than one type of labels is used. Specifically, in Fig. 4a, three types of labels are used. The marking unit 400 comprises three labeling units 402F, 402U, 402C, wherein each of the three labeling units 402F, 402U, 402C is arranged to adhere a label with prefabricated appearance onto a surface of a coin using an adhesive. The labels are stored on separate rolls 424F, 424U, 424C, each roll containing labels having a unique appearance when compared to the appearance of the labels on any other roll. In the example shown in Fig. 4a, the labels have been prefabricated such that they show a code (F=foreign, U=Unfit, C=Counterfeit) on their respective second surface. Thus the appearance of the marked coins, as shown in Fig. 4b, will be similar to the appearance of the marked coins in Fig 3b. Examples of different types of prefabricated labels are shown in Fig 4c-d. According to an example embodiment, the labels may be shaped differently, as shown in Fig, 4c, disclosing a star-shaped label 454C for counterfeit coins, a square label 454F for unfit coins and a circular label 454U for unfit coins, respectively. According to another example, the labels may have different color, as shown in Fig. 4d, disclosing for example a red label 454C for counterfeit coins, a green label 454F for unfit coins and a blue label 454U for unfit coins, respectively (as illustrated by different patterns on the labels in Fig. 4d).

By use of labels with a prefabricated appearance, the label printing unit may be omitted for some embodiments. However, in the embodiment shown in Fig. 4a, the marking unit 400 comprises three printing units 430F, 430U, 430C arranged to print additional information on the labels, such as for example the time and date of marking the coin, or alternatively or additionally, a unique code, such as a bar code.

Fig. 5a shows a marking unit 500 according to an alternative

embodiment. The marking unit 500 comprises a painting unit 510 arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins 501 by applying an identification mark on a surface of the coin. The painting unit 510 comprises two painting arms 520, 530 arranged to swing pivotally in relation to the painting unit 510. Each painting arm of the two painting arms 520, 530 comprises a painting member 522, 532 arranged to add paint onto a surface of a coin identified to be marked when the painting member is brought into contact with the surface of the coin by a pivotal movement of the painting arm. The painting arms 520, 530 are supplied with paint from a paint storage unit 550, the paint storage unit 550 comprising two separate containers 522, 524. Each container of the two containers 552, 524 is filled with a paint of unique color. Each painting arm of the two painting arms 520, 530 is fluidly connected to a respective one of the two chambers 552, 554 within the paint storage unit 550. Thus, the painting arms 520, 530 may be supplied with paint such as to allow painting a surface of a coin.

The identification mark created by the painting unit 510 in the example embodiment of Fig. 5a is shown in Fig. 5b, the identification mark comprising a stroke of paint 580 having a visible color when illuminated by white light, such as for example a green or blue colored paint mark. Alternatively, the identification mark could be a stroke of fluorescent paint emitting a

fluorescence in the visible spectral region when excited by an external light source.

The marking unit 500 further comprises a stamping unit 560 arranged to mark the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins 501 by applying an identification mark 562 on a surface of the identified coin. The identification mark 562 will then comprise an indentation into said surface. The stamping unit 560 shown in Fig. 5a comprises an actuator 564

comprising a stamping member 566 at its outer end. The stamping unit 560 is arranged to press the stamping member 566 into the surface material of a coin identified to be marked when said coin is present within an active region 568 of the stamping unit 560. The stamping unit 560 shown in Fig. 5a is used to irreversibly mark counterfeit coins and thus, the stamping member 566 is shaped such as to stamp the letter C into the surface of the coin, as shown in Fig. 5c.

It should be understood that the marking unit 500 could in other embodiments only comprise one of the stamping unit 560 and the painting unit 510. The marking unit 500 of Fig. 5a provides marking using the same marking categories as the previously disclosed embodiments, i.e. foreign, unfit and counterfeit. An advantage with the embodiment in Fig. 5a is that the counterfeit mark will be irreversible, thus reducing the risk of tampering with marked coins risking counterfeit coins to enter back into circulation.

In an alternative methodology, coins are marked by enclosing each coin in a coin container. Fig. 6a shows an embodiment of a coin container 600. The coin container 600 comprises a bottom part 602 and a top part 604. The bottom part 602 and top part 604 are shaped such as to form an enclosed space between them when they are attached to each other using a snap-fit mechanism arranged at a periphery of each one of the bottom part 602 and top part 604. The enclosed space is arranged to house a coin 606 as shown in Fig. 6b.

The marking of a coin may further comprise marking a surface of a coin container using methodologies disclosed hereinabove. For example, a coin enclosed in a coin container may be further marked by adding a label onto a surface of the coin container. Fig. 6c shows a coin 650 marked by enclosing the coin in the coin container 600 according to the embodiment shown in Fig. 6a, and adhering a label 652 onto an outer surface of the top part 604 of the coin container 600 using a labeling unit. A bar code 654 has been printed onto the label 652 using a label printing unit. Specifically, according to an embodiment, the marking unit further comprises a coin container storage unit arranged to store a plurality of coin containers and the marking unit is further arranged to mark the identified singular coin by enclosing said singular coin in a specific coin container from the plurality of coin containers.

It is understood that a surface of a coin and a surface of a coin container can be used interchangeably throughout the disclosure with regards to the marking unit. In other words, the marking unit is arranged to provide marking either on a surface of a coin directly or on a surface of a coin container enclosing a coin.

A method 700 for identifying coins will now be described in reference to Fig. 7. The method 700 comprises receiving S702, using an input unit, a batch of coins. In a next step the method 700 further comprises forming S704, using an aligning mechanism, a sequence of singular coins from the batch of coins received from the input unit. In a next step the method 700 further comprises transporting S706, by a transport mechanism, the sequence of singular coins to a sensor unit. In a next step the method 700 further comprises measuring S708, using the sensor unit, on the sequence of singular coins to provide coin information associated with properties of a singular coin. In a next step the method 700 further comprises processing S710, by a processing unit, the coin information in relation to pre-defined criteria, and identify S712 whether the singular coin is to be marked. In a next step the method 700 further comprises, upon identifying that a singular coin is to be marked, selectively mark S714, by a marking unit, the identified singular coin in the sequence of singular coins.

The person skilled in the art realizes that the present invention by no means is limited to the preferred embodiments described above. On the contrary, many modifications and variations are possible within the scope of the appended claims.

For example, the marking unit may comprise alternative sub-units not specifically disclosed herein. The label storage units may be embodied differently than in the example embodiments where rolls are used. Alternative embodiments comprise stacked labels in a plurality of compartments, sheets of labels etc. Furthermore, the sorting unit may be arranged to sort the coins prior to marking the coins. This implies that the marking unit may be arranged to receive only coins that has been identified for marking.

Additionally, variations to the disclosed embodiments can be

understood and effected by the skilled person in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims.