Title:
Assembly and device for automatically stabilizing a kiosk
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An assembly and device provides for automatically adding stability to a kiosk having carriage bearing equipment that is serviceable external to the inner portion of the kiosk by withdrawing the carriage. The carriage includes a pivoted stabilizer foot that is deployed responsive to the relative motion of withdrawing the carriage.



Inventors:
Parsons, Robert David (Raleigh, NC, US)
Vorhees, Kevin Hunter (Raleigh, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/111544
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
04/21/2005
Assignee:
International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F10/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WENDELL, MARK R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INACTIVE - RPS IP LAW DEPT (Endicott, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stabilized, floor supported kiosk comprising: a enclosure defining a vertical front opening; a carriage including a front panel of a configuration for mating with said front opening, said carriage having a frame which supports equipment; a guide coupling the enclosure and the carriage for relative movement of the carriage between a withdrawn position and an inserted position respective of the enclosure; a support foot pivotally mounted to the carriage; a linkage, responsive to relative movement between the carriage and the enclosure toward the withdrawn position, which causes the support foot to pivot in the direction of movement of the carriage to a deployed position in which it engages the floor to stabilize the kiosk against tipping.

2. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 1 wherein: the linkage is a mechanical linkage connected between the carriage and enclosure, with a drive link connected to the stabilizer foot, which drive link is connected to be driven by relative motion between the carriage and the enclosure.

3. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 2 wherein: the equipment includes a display and a computer system mounted to the frame.

4. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 3 wherein: the equipment further includes a card reader and a printer mounted to the frame

5. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 2 wherein: the linkage also retracts the stabilizer foot to be aligned with the front panel for motion returning the carriage to the enclosure.

6. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 2 wherein: a spring is connected between the carriage and the drive linkage to urge the stabilizer foot to the deployed position.

7. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 6 wherein: the spring is connected to be stretched by movement of the linkage occurring when the carriage is moved toward the inserted position.

8. A stabilized floor supported kiosk according to claim 1 wherein: the linkage is an electrical detector which detects relative motion between the carriage and the enclosure and an actuator triggered by the detector which deploys said support foot.

9. A mechanism for stabilizing a floor supported kiosk of the type having an enclosure with a carriage supporting equipment which is inserted in an opening and is mounted to a guide for relative motion in a direction to a withdrawn position where it extends outside the enclosure for servicing, the mechanism comprising: a support foot mounted to the carriage be movable from a normal position adjacent the carriage to a deployed position extending therefrom in the direction of the withdrawn position to engage the floor; a linkage responsive to relative motion of the carriage toward the withdrawn position, which drives the support foot to the deployed position.

10. A mechanism according to claim 9 wherein: the linkage includes a spring which urges the stabilizer foot to the deployed position.

11. A mechanism according to claim 9 wherein: the linkage is connected to the carriage and the enclosure to receive relative motion therebetween and the linkage includes a link which connects to the stabilizer foot to transmit that motion for deploying and retracting the stabilizer foot.

12. A mechanism according to claim 9 wherein: a spring urges the stabilizer foot to the deployed position.

13. A mechanism according to claim 12 wherein the spring is connected between the linkage and the carriage.

14. A floor-standing, point-of-sale terminal comprising: a floor-standing vertical tower enclosure defining a front opening; a carriage having a front panel configured to mate with the front opening of the tower enclosure; a track and slider connecting the carriage to the tower enclosure for relative motion between an inserted position with the front panel mating with the tower enclosure at the front opening and a maintenance position with the carriage withdrawn from the enclosure; a frame mounted to the carriage to extend into the tower enclosure for the inserted position; a stabilizer foot mounted to the carriage to move between a normal position with adjacent the carriage and a deployed position extending forward of the carriage; a linkage connected to the tower enclosure and the carriage to receive relative motion when the carriage is withdrawn from the tower enclosure, the linkage including a link which transfers such motion to the stabilizer foot to drive it from the normal position to the deployed position for carriage motion to the maintenance position, whereby the terminal is is stabilized as the carriage assumes the maintenance position.

15. A point-of-sale terminal according to claim 14 wherein: a display and computer are mounted to the frame.

16. A point of sale terminal according to to claim 15 wherein: a card reader is mounted to the frame and the display is a touch panel display.

17. A point-of-sale terminal according to claim 14 wherein: a spring is connected to the linkage to urge the stabilizer foot to the deployed position.

18. A point-of-sale terminal according to claim 17 wherein: the spring is connected between the linkage and the carriage.

19. A point-of-sale terminal according to claim 14 wherein: the linkage includes a cam follower.

20. A point-of-sale terminal according to claim 14 wherein: the stabilizer foot is pivotally mounted to the carriage by a pin.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. The Field of the Invention

The present invention relates in general to an assembly and device that provides stabilization to a mounted computer terminal such as a kiosk. More particularly, the present invention relates to a stabilizing assembly and device that automatically increases kiosk stability for maintenance.

2. Description of the Related Art

It is widely known that computer systems are used and integrated with most retail related environments. Examples of this include the use of Point of Sale (POS) devices, cash registry and inventory control devices, and various computerized systems in retail environments such as groceries, superstores and department stores. Now, it is becoming more commonplace for consumers to be offered the opportunity to use a localized POS device, also known as a kiosk, for financial transactions, advertising and even entertainment.

Kiosks are gaining use in shopping centers, airports and areas where convenience and ease of use are desired. Kiosks often offer an ideal solution to improve information flow to customers at a significantly lower cost than information desks, which require staff. Typically, it is the ability to reduce costs that is the real driver in identifying strategic implantations of kiosks.

Kiosks can be placed in remote areas, require very little floor space (or even be portable), and can operate 24 hours and 7 days a week without the traditional 2-3 persons that may be required at a traditional staffed location. These computer-based convenience centers and similar other types of kiosk-like systems are referred to hereinafter as kiosks, POS systems, assemblies and devices, and terminals, though such descriptions are intended to be inclusive and instructive to any and all computer systems that are for transactions with multiple users, in operation, and are typically mounted for use by the public in an area of convenience.

FIG. 1 is a depiction of an existing type of kiosk 100 of a tower type that is free standing on a floor and has a desirable slender tower, so as to not consume excessive valuable space, for example, in a mall area. This tower type of kiosk places customer interaction equipment such as a display 110 (usually a touch panel display), a credit card reader 112, a printer 114 and a coupon dispenser 116 at a convenient level for a standing customer or user. As is seen more clearly in FIG. 2, the kiosk has two main parts, an enclosure 122 which defines a front opening at opposing edges 124 (one side viewable) and a pull-away equipment carriage 130. The enclosure 122 includes a large base portion 126 which serves to stabilize the kiosk 100 from tipping over when the carriage 130 is withdrawn for service.

The carriage 130 has a panel 132 that fills the front opening and mates with edges 124 when in a closed position for the kiosk 100 (shown in FIG. 1). The panel is mounted to a frame 134 which supports the panel 132 and equipment 138, which may include a central processing unit, telecommunications devices and other items to support the function of the kiosk. The carriage 130 is coupled to the enclosure base, for example by a guide 134 running in a track 135, such as a drawer slide mechanism, which allows the carriage 21 to be withdrawn from the enclosure 122 (as shown in FIG. 2). This pullout capability as is highly desirable to facilitate maintenance on the equipment 138 and saves technician time compared to an approach requiring the technician to work within the enclosure.

While offering convenience features for servicing, the kiosk 100 has a big base plate to prevent tipping when the carriage is withdrawn, and this greatly increases the room it occupies and causes the customer to step up onto the base plate to consummate a transaction. Other attempts to reduce the likelihood of tipping of a slender kiosk during service have included adding a counterweight to offset imbalances, or manually placing a support under the carriage, when withdrawn by the service technician seeking to access the internal equipment 138.

Unfortunately, in many of the attempts at kiosk design, access to internal parts is inconvenient because access requires dismantling the enclosure. And, where a pullout carriage or drawer is provided, provision for avoiding tipping is unsatisfactory. Bulk is added or an undesirable base is added, which extends into the customer location for access. Often, the appearance of the kiosk is impaired.

Therefore, what is needed is an assembly and device for providing added stability to a kiosk having carriage-mounted equipment that is withdrawn for service. Such an assembly and device should also provide the functional and aesthetic benefits of a traditional kiosk and nonetheless permit a rich offering of interaction capabilities for users.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been developed in response to the present state of the art regarding kiosk stability during servicing, and in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art regarding kiosk stability that have not yet been fully solved by currently available retail devices and processes.

Accordingly, it is an overall object of the present invention to provide an assembly and device that provides for automatically adding stability to a kiosk having carriage-mounted equipment that is serviceable external to the inner portion of the kiosk by extending or retracting in relation to the opening or closing of the equipment carriage. It is a further object of the invention that the present invention be configured to be easily maintained and customizable by the owner, and still provide the customer interaction benefits of a kiosk such as printing coupons, displaying messages, swiping cards and dispensing materials such as tickets.

The present invention overcomes many or all of the above-discussed shortcomings in the art. To achieve the foregoing objects, and in accordance with the invention as embodied and broadly described herein in the preferred aspects and embodiments, a device and assembly for stabilizing a kiosk comprising a front vertical plate having a front face configured with a frame and a base guide; wherein, said frame cooperates with an enclosure portion of the kiosk to permit guided retraction/insertion of the carriage such that when the carriage is withdrawn enclosure the relative motion is linked to force a pivoted foot to move to extend in the direction of motion.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a kiosk having improved stability during servicing, comprising: a CPU, a display, an input device, a stand separable into at least a front drawer or carriage and a rear enclosure, a guide track defining a carriage path, there being a stabilizing device which is driven to extend beyond the carriage in the direction of carriage motion when the carriage is being withdrawn from the enclosure.

These and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter. The above is merely a summary of the invention and thus contains, by necessity, simplifications, generalizations and omissions of detail; consequently, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the summary is illustrative only and is not intended to be comprehensive or limiting with regard to the invention at hand.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to better understand the manner in which the advantages, aspects and objects of the invention are obtained, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIGS. 1 and 2 are perspective views of a prior art kiosk with an equipment carriage the may be withdrawn (as shown in FIG. 2) from an enclosure portion of the kiosk to permit servicing;

FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 are bottom views of a stabilized device and assembly for a kiosk, which includes an automatic stabilizer foot in accordance with a preferred embodiment for the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a kiosk according to a preferred embodiment for the invention, which shows a stabilizing foot member as positioned in response to withdrawal of equipment carriage from the kiosk enclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 show a stabilized device and assembly with a stabilizer foot 306 for a kiosk 100, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention. FIG. 3 shows carriage 130 fully inserted 21 as in normal operation, whereas FIG. 4 shows partial withdrawal and FIG. 5 shows full withdrawal as would occur for servicing access. During withdrawal, motion between carriage 130 and enclosure 122 is coupled by a cam follower 300 to a linkage 302, then through a linkage 304 to the stabilizer foot 306, which is pivotally mounted to the bottom of carriage 130 by a pin 308. As is seen in the progression of FIGS. 3-5 the linkages 302 and 304 drive the stabilizer foot 306 to rotate and extend in the direction of carriage motion. The use of the am follower 300 and a spring 301 with one end attached attached at carriage 130 the other to linkage 302 is presently preferred and urges the stabilizer foot 306 to deploy more fully in an early portion of the travel. The spring 301 is energized by moving the carriage 130 to the normal or inserted position (FIG. 3) and urges the stabilizer foot 306 to the deployed or extended position (FIG. 5) through the linkage 302. As a result the kiosk 100 is stabilized by the stabilizer foot 306, which is deployed to the extended position, early in the withdrawal motion for the carriage 130 and is withdrawn from extended position, later in the insertion motion for the carriage.

FIG. 6 shows, in a perspective view, the stabilizer foot 306 as positioned (the deployed or extended position) when the carriage 130 is withdrawn from the enclosure 122. As can be readily seen (FIGS. 3-5), the foot 306 automatically responds to the carriage 130 being withdrawn to provide added stability of the kiosk 100 to prevent tipping forward during servicing. There is no reliance on manual placement of a stabilizer by the service technician and there is no need to have the kiosk base be specially enlarged to extend into the intended user space to accommodate weight shifting due to carriage removal to a service position during maintenance.

Linkages as used herein are intended to include any link, connection, adaptation, configuration or arrangements, including electrical or fluid linkages, where the resulting function of a link mechanism is to produce motion as a result of motion between the carriage 130 and enclosure 122 to cause the stabilizer foot 306 to advance in the direction of relative motion by the carriage.

By way of example and not of limitation, a four link mechanism may be used, as preferred, for a kinematic linkage, where it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that a variety of useful arrangements can be formed from a four-link mechanism through slight variations, such as changing the character of the pairs, proportions of links, etc. It should be appreciated, by those skilled in the art, that a linkage could be achieved by sensing, electrically, the relative motion of the carriage 130 and the enclosure 122 and triggering an actuator to advance a stabilizer foot 306 to extend in the direction of motion of the carriage relative to the enclosure.

Advantages of the present invention include: providing: improved stability and resistance to tipping, easy access to equipment within a kiosk type of device, and maintaining a sleek and aesthetically pleasing design. The present invention may include customized or off the shelf technology and products without limitation.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.





 
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