When such a confounding situation presents itself, product recognition software can default and assume that the current item is identical to the last recognizable item that was in that exact location, or be programmed to return a blank image and default to a pre-programmed price.
Power Of Seven
Product recognition software is composed of seven distinct algorithms that simultaneously diagnose product appearance/physical characteristics (e.g., color, shape, size, position, font, text, tilt orientation) in an attempt to determine a product database match. Once the recognized product is identified and located in the product recognition database, the product's SKU and price are accessed and may be displayed on the machine's optional MIND touchscreen display and/or on its digital price label.
The ability to accurately distinguish fine points on packaging is the goal of product recognition software. A product that is not identified can be assumed to be the same as the product that preceded it in the spiral or a "not available" message can be displayed. In either case, the machine can continue to function without interruption.
Alternatively, when the product recognition software concludes that a candidate product is unrecognizable, the software can shut down the mystery spiral and render it out of order; this would likely be a last choice situation. A mid-90 percent recognition rate for a bijection measurement application is considered excellent and this software is expected to routinely perform at that level.
What Is Bijection Measurement?
The word bijection means to have equivalent mathematical algorithmic outcomes so that an image can be matched to a stored item value. This is similar to a biometric comparison with the exception being that there are no human attributes or physical characteristics connected with the target.
To adequately assess the identity of a product, given multiple orientation and angular photographs, the array of images must be present in the vending machine's product recognition database. By having a collection of photos of the product, recognition of an improperly stocked or scattered product placement should not hinder recognition efforts.
The orientation of a product in a spiral cannot be guaranteed and the collection of stored database images must be sufficient to enable matching the correct product with its SKU and pricing data as well as optional access to nutritional content information should the MIND application also be implemented.
Maximize Space to Sales
A unique feature of product recognition is the ability to vend identical products from multiple spirals even when one spiral enjoys the most advantageous machine placement and the other a less desirable machine shelf space.
For example, an operator may decide to offer more than one column of a particular product to avoid frequent re-stocking or stocking out of a high-demand product. When the consumer purchases the item, regardless of which spiral the consumer selects, the actual location of the dispensed product may be different than the one selected.
Given that the second column of the product is located in a less desirable space in the machine (e.g., bottom row) then the product recognition software can be programmed to balance out the product inventory by vending from the least desirable placement first (until it is empty) or dispensing the product alternatively between the two columns to avoid a sold out situation for either spiral. In either case, the product remains visible in the more desirable machine location while the machine remains balanced with a robust appearance.
Ensure Proper Price Points
There is great value in having confidence that products will be properly priced by the product recognition software shortly after the product appears in a spiral facing (i.e., presented to the customer for purchase). This information is critical to a successful sale and a machine equipped with a digital pricing tray or LCD display screen can project the product price immediately.
In essence, the software can change the displayed price from the last item that appeared in the spiral location (which may have had a different price) to the new price. This feature enables a vending operator to deviate from the common industry practice of keeping similarly priced products in the same row or column or throughout the entire machine.