Smart drop box

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  • Publication Date:
    September 14, 2021
  • Additional Information
    • Patent Number:
      11120,390
    • Appl. No:
      15/672785
    • Application Filed:
      August 09, 2017
    • Abstract:
      A smart drop box, system, and method for providing item deposit verification. A smart drop box includes an item receptacle, a processor in communication with the item receptacle, and a user interface in communication with the processor. The item receptacle is configured to receive an item from a user, determine item information related to the item, and transfer the item to a collection container. The processor is configured to determine payment information based at least in part on the item information. The smart drop box is configured to provide deposit verification based at least in part on at least one of the item information and the payment information. In some embodiments, the deposit verification includes a printed receipt and/or an electronic notification.
    • Inventors:
      United States Postal Service (Washington, DC, US)
    • Assignees:
      United States Postal Service (Washington, DC, US)
    • Claim:
      1. A smart drop box comprising: an item receptacle comprising a door, the door operable in an open state, an intermediate state, and a closed state; a collection container disposed proximate the item receptacle and configured to receive an item from the item receptacle; a locking mechanism connected to the item receptacle for locking the door of the item receptacle; wherein in the open state the door is unlocked and the item receptacle is configured to receive an item from a user, wherein when the door is in the intermediate state, the locking mechanism locks the door such that the door prevents the user from inserting or removing items from the item receptacle and the item is retained within the item receptacle, and wherein when the door is in the closed state, the item receptacle is configured to allow the item to pass to the collection container; a scanning device configured to scan an item located within the item receptacle while the door is locked in the intermediate state, and to generate item information based on the scan; a processor in communication with the scanning device, the locking mechanism, and the item receptacle, the processor configured to receive the item information, confirm receipt of a deposit from a user interface in communication with the processor, and make a determination as to whether the item should be accepted; wherein if the item is accepted the door moves to the closed state and the processor is configured to generate a confirmation of the deposit, and wherein if the item is rejected, the door moves to the open state and the item receptacle is configured so the user may retrieve the rejected item.
    • Claim:
      2. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein the door comprises a shutter door and wherein the locking mechanism is configured to lock the shutter door in the intermediate position in the locked state following receipt of the item.
    • Claim:
      3. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein the scanning device is further configured to capture an image of a user, wherein the deposit verification is based at least in part on the image of the user.
    • Claim:
      4. The smart drop box of claim 1 , further comprising an internal sensor disposed within the receptacle, the internal sensor in communication with the processor and configured to scan the item within the receptacle, wherein the processor is configured to determine, based at least in part on the scan of the item within the receptacle, whether the item within the receptacle is the item scanned at the scanning device.
    • Claim:
      5. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein determining item information comprises optically reading encoded information from a label affixed to the item.
    • Claim:
      6. The smart drop box of claim 5 , wherein the processor is further configured to determine payment information based on the scanned item information.
    • Claim:
      7. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein the item receptacle comprises a scale, and wherein determining item information comprises measuring a weight of the item.
    • Claim:
      8. The smart drop box of claim 1 , further comprising a printer, wherein generating the confirmation of the deposit comprises causing a receipt to be printed.
    • Claim:
      9. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein generating the confirmation of the deposit comprises sending an electronic receipt to an email address associated with the user.
    • Claim:
      10. The smart drop box of claim 1 , wherein generating the confirmation of the deposit comprises sending an electronic receipt to an email address associated with a person other than the user.
    • Claim:
      11. A method of providing item deposit verification, the method comprising: receiving an item from a user at an item receptacle of an automated drop box with a door of the item receptacle in an open, unlocked state; securing the item within the item receptacle of the automated drop box by locking the door in an intermediate state, thereby preventing the user from inserting into or removing items from the item receptacle; determining item information related to the item based on scanning the item while the item is secured within the item receptacle; wherein if the item is rejected based upon the item information, moving the door to the open, unlocked state for rejected item retrieval by the user; and wherein if the item is accepted based upon the item information: transferring the item to a collection container with the item receptacle by moving the door to the closed state; and generating a deposit confirmation based at least in part on at least one of the item information and the payment information.
    • Claim:
      12. The method of claim 11 , further comprising capturing an image of the user, wherein the deposit confirmation comprises the image of the user.
    • Claim:
      13. The method of claim 12 , wherein providing the deposit confirmation comprises transmitting the image of the user to a person other than the user.
    • Claim:
      14. The method of claim 11 , wherein determining item information comprises optically reading encoded information from a label affixed to the item.
    • Claim:
      15. The method of claim 11 , wherein determining item information comprises measuring a weight of the item.
    • Claim:
      16. The method of claim 11 , wherein providing the deposit confirmation comprises printing a receipt.
    • Claim:
      17. The method of claim 11 , wherein providing the deposit confirmation comprises sending an electronic receipt to an email address associated with the user.
    • Claim:
      18. The method of claim 11 , wherein providing the deposit confirmation comprises sending an electronic receipt to an email address associated with a person other than the user.
    • Claim:
      19. The method of claim 11 , further comprising determining payment information based at least in part on the item information.
    • Claim:
      20. The method of claim 19 , wherein determining payment information comprises obtaining, from a server, a record of payment associated with the encoded information.
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    • Primary Examiner:
      Tungate, Scott M
    • Attorney, Agent or Firm:
      Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
    • Accession Number:
      edspgr.11120390