Vending machines have to identify money in tenths of a second. How does a vending machine work?
A vending machine is one of those examples of how a complex technology can seem very simple just because the technology is hidden and the service has always been available in our day to day, since we were born.
However, a vending machine has the difficult task of identify coins in less than a second to check its authenticity and know its value, and then order the coins to be able to return the appropriate exchange when necessary.
How a vending machine detects coins
When you put a coin in a vending machine, during the fall, a laser sensor measure the size of the coin and an electromagnet detects what metal type the coin is made. From these two pieces of information, the machine is able to distinguish a counterfeit coin from a real one and to classify the coins by their value.
Once the machine knows which coin you have inserted, it can open access to the conduit that returns your coin, if it is false, or open the conduit in which all coins of a certain value are stored. In this way, they can know which coins are returning when they have to make change.
How does a machine know if the product has dropped
Although sadly almost anyone has ever come across a product stuck in a vending machine and has not been able to get what they have purchased, there are many machines that make sure that you have received your product.
For this, they have several Infrared lasers that detect products when falling. In case infrared detects nothing, the motor that pushes the product is reactivated so that the product falls.
Without a doubt, a complex technology that works so fast and so habitually that we are not even aware that it is really working.