(19)
(11)EP 3 667 552 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 19191429.0

(22)Date of filing:  13.08.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G06K 7/10  (2006.01)
G07G 1/00  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 14.12.2018 JP 2018234006

(71)Applicant: Toshiba Tec Kabushiki Kaisha
Shinagawa-ku Tokyo 141-0032 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • Suzuki, Shigeaki
    Tokyo 141-8562 (JP)

(74)Representative: Hoffmann Eitle 
Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartmbB Arabellastraße 30
81925 München
81925 München (DE)

  


(54)RADIO TAG READING DEVICE AND METHOD


(57) According to one embodiment, a radio wave transmission unit (transmission unit) transmits a radio wave for communication with an IC tag (radio tag) toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which a customer (operator) places a commodity on a registration counter (placement table) on which the commodity with the IC tag storing commodity information is placed. A reading start instruction unit (reading start unit) starts operations of a radio wave transmission unit and a radio wave reception unit (reception unit) that receives a response signal including the commodity information from the IC tag in response to the radio wave at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region. A commodity information reading unit (reading unit) reads the commodity information from the response signal received by the radio wave reception unit.




Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION



[0001] This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority from Japanese Patent Application No. 2018-234006, filed on December 14, 2018, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD



[0002] Embodiments described therein relate generally to a radio tag reading device and a method.

BACKGROUND



[0003] In the related art, there are commodity sales data treatment devices that read commodity information from RFID tags (RFID chips) attached to each commodity and perform sales registration and an accounting process based on the commodity information. For example, a reading device that reads commodity information en bloc by placing commodities or a shopping basket in which commodities are contained on the upper surface of a checkout counter in which a planar antenna is buried has been proposed (for example, JP-A-2007-264918).

[0004] The reading device has a configuration in which the commodity information of commodities is read en bloc in a state in which the plurality of commodities are mixed. That is, since the reading device reads commodity information in a state in which the commodities are placed on the checkout counter, that is, a stationary state, there is a possibility of the commodities themselves interfering in transmission and reception of radio waves when the commodity information of other commodities are read. That is, since there is a possibility of regions in which radio waves do not arrive occurring, there are commodities from which the commodity information may not be read.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0005] One of the objects of the present invention is to improve prior art techniques and overcome at least some of the prior art problems as for instance above illustrated.

[0006] According to a first aspect of the invention, it is provided a radio tag reading device comprising: a transmission unit configured to transmit a radio wave for communication with a radio tag toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which an operator places a commodity on a placement table on which the commodity with the radio tag storing commodity information is placed; a reception unit configured to receive a response signal including the commodity information from the radio tag in response to the radio wave transmitted by the transmission unit; a reading start unit configured to start operations of the transmission unit and the reception unit at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region; and a reading unit configured to read the commodity information from the response signal received by the reception unit.

[0007] Optionally, in the device according to the first aspect of the invention, the predetermined timing is a timing at which the operator approaches the placement table.

[0008] Optionally, in the device according to the first aspect of the invention, the predetermined timing is a timing at which the operator places a basket in which the commodity is contained near the placement region.

[0009] Optionally, in the device according to the first aspect of the invention, the reading unit clears the commodity information read by the reading unit when the commodity information is not readable over a predetermined time.

[0010] Optionally, the device according to the first aspect of the invention further comprises a reading end unit configured to end operations of the transmission unit and the reception unit.

[0011] According to a second aspect of the invention, it is provided a method for causing a computer to function as: a transmission unit configured to transmit a radio wave for communication with a radio tag toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which an operator places a commodity on a placement table on which the commodity with the radio tag storing commodity information is placed; a reception unit configured to receive a response signal including the commodity information from the radio tag in response to the radio wave; a reading start unit configured to start the transmitting and the receiving at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region; and a reading unit configured to read the commodity information from the received response signal.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0012] 

FIG. 1 is an external view illustrating an example of an overall configuration of a self-checkout device according to an embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view illustrating an example of a cross-sectional structure of a registration counter;

FIG. 3 is a diagram illustrating a state in which a customer takes out commodities from a basket and places the commodities in a predetermined placement region of a registration counter;

FIG. 4 is a hardware block diagram illustrating an example of a hardware configuration of the self-checkout device;

FIG. 5 is a functional block diagram illustrating an example of a functional configuration of the self-checkout device;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a flow of a process performed by the self-checkout device; and

FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a flow of a tag information reading process performed by the self-checkout device.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0013] Embodiments provide a radio tag reading device and a method capable of reliably reading commodity information of commodities without being missed.

[0014] In general, according to one embodiment, a radio tag reading device includes a transmission unit, a reception unit, a reading start unit, and a reading unit. The transmission unit transmits a radio wave for communication with a radio tag toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which an operator places a commodity on a placement table on which the commodity with the radio tag storing commodity information is placed. The reception unit receives a response signal including the commodity information from the radio tag in response to the radio wave transmitted by the transmission unit. The reading start unit starts operations of the transmission unit and the reception unit at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region. The reading unit reads the commodity information from the response signal received by the reception unit.

[0015] Hereinafter, exemplary embodiments will be described with reference to the appended drawings.

Description of Overall Configuration of Radio Tag Reading Device



[0016] FIG. 1 is an external view illustrating an example of an overall configuration of a self-checkout device 1 according to an embodiment. The self-checkout device 1 is installed in, for example, a store such as a supermarket. The self-checkout device 1 is a device called a so-called point of sales (POS) device in which commodities purchased by a customer is registered by the customer by himself or herself so that accounting is performed. The self-checkout device 1 is an application example of a radio tag reading device.

[0017] The self-checkout device 1 includes a POS terminal 10 and a registration counter 20.

[0018] A body 2 of the POS terminal 10 includes a monitor 3b in which a touch panel 3a is arranged on its surface. For example, a liquid crystal display is used as the monitor 3b.

[0019] The body 2 of the POS terminal 10 includes a card insertion port 4 into which a point card or a credit card of a customer is inserted in settlement and a receipt issue port 5 which issues a receipt. The card insertion port 4 communicates with a card reader 36 (see FIG. 4) to be described below and the receipt issue port 5 communicates with a receipt printer 37 (see FIG. 4) to be described below.

[0020] The body 2 of the POS terminal 10 includes a paper money deposit and withdrawal port 6 into which paper money for settlement is deposited and paper money for change is received, a coin insertion port 7 into which coins are inserted in settlement, and a coin extraction port 8 into which change coins are received. The paper money deposit and withdrawal port 6, the coin insertion port 7, and the coin extraction port 8 communicate with a change machine 35 (see FIG. 4) to be described below.

[0021] The registration counter 20 of the self-checkout device 1 includes a top plate 22. The registration counter 20 is an example of a placement table. The top plate 22 is a substantially smooth plate. The top plate 22 is formed of, for example, wood or acryl through which radio waves radiated from an RFID antenna 32 (see FIG. 2) to be described below are transmitted. The top plate 22 includes a temporary placement region 24 on which a customer temporarily places commodities purchased by the customer and a placement region 26 on which the customer places the commodities so that commodity information is read. The placement region 26 is preferably formed of a different material or with different color from the temporary placement region 24 so that the customer can easily see the placement region 26. Alternatively, a range of the placement region 26 may be drawn in the top plate 22. The customer is an example of an operator.

[0022] On a side surface of the registration counter 20, an infrared sensor 30 is provided to face a customer. The infrared sensor 30 detects that a customer approaches the registration counter 20 by detecting infrared light emitted from a human body.

Description of Internal Structure of Registration Counter



[0023] FIG. 2 is a sectional view illustrating an example of a cross-sectional structure of the registration counter 20. In particular, FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line xz plane of the registration counter 20 illustrated in FIG. 1. The registration counter 20 includes a partition plate 23 parallel to the top plate below the top plate 22. An RFID antenna 32 is installed below the placement region 26 in the partition plate 23.

[0024] The RFID antenna 32 radiates radio waves toward the upper side (the positive direction of the z axis) . The radiated radio waves transmit through the top plate 22 (more specifically, the placement region 26) to form a radiation range 32a above the top plate 22.

[0025] The installation position of the RFID antenna 32 illustrated in FIG. 2 and a radiation direction of the radio waves are exemplary and an exemplary embodiment is not limited thereto. For example, the RFID antenna 32 may be installed to be erect on the top plate 22 of the registration counter 20 in parallel to the yz plane and radiate radio waves in the negative direction of the x axis. In this case, the radio waves are radiated to the placement region 26 in the negative direction of the x axis to form a radiation range of the radio waves in a region including the placement region 26.

Description of Reading Operation for Commodity Code



[0026] FIG. 3 is a diagram illustrating a state in which a customer 50 takes out a commodity 60 from a basket 52 and places the commodities in the predetermined placement region 26 of the registration counter 20. The customer 50 finishing shopping approaches the registration counter 20, carrying the basket 52 in which the commodity 60 is contained and temporarily places the basket 52 in the temporary placement region 24. Thereafter, the customer 50 takes out the commodity 60 contained in the basket 52 and places the commodity 60 in the placement region 26.

[0027] Each integrated circuit (IC) tag 62 is attached to the commodity 60. The IC tag 62 is, for example, a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The IC tag 62 stores tag information. The tag information is, for example, commodity information such as ID (for example, a commodity code) with which the commodity 60 can be identified. The IC tag 62 is an example of a radio tag.

[0028] The IC tag 62 is active when the RFID antenna 32 installed inside the registration counter 20 receives radio waves radiated across the radiation range 32a. Then, the IC tag 62 transmits tag information stored in the IC tag 62 as a respond signal to the RFID antenna 32. The RFID antenna 32 receives the response signal from the IC tag 62 and transmits the response signal to the POS terminal 10. Then, the POS terminal 10 recognizes the commodity information of the commodity 60 to which the IC tag 62 is attached from the response signal received by the RFID antenna 32.

[0029] The radiation range 32a of the radio waves radiated by the RFID antenna 32 has a substantially spherical shape that extends above the placement region 26 of the registration counter 20, as described above. Accordingly, while the customer 50 takes out the commodity 60 from the basket 52 and places the commodity 60 in the placement region 26, the commodity 60 enters the radiation range 32a of the radio waves. Accordingly, the IC tag 62 attached to the commodity 60 receives the radio waves radiated by the RFID antenna 32 and is activated before the commodity 60 is placed in the placement region 26. The IC tag 62 outputs tag information as a response signal. The RFID antenna 32 receives the response signal and delivers the received tag information to the POS terminal 10. The POS terminal 10 acquires commodity information such as a commodity name or a price of the commodity 60 by comparing the transmitted tag information to a PLU file F1 (see FIG. 4) to be described below.

[0030] In FIG. 3, the customer 50 places the commodities 60 one by one in the placement region 26, as described above. However, the customer 50 may directly place the basket 52 in which the commodities 60 are contained in the placement region 26. In this case, when the basket 52 enters the radiation range 32a of the radio waves, the IC tag 62 receiving the radio waves is activated and outputs the tag information. That is, the tag information starts to be read before the basket 52 is placed in the placement region 26. Therefore, a readable range of the IC tag 62 (a position and a posture of the commodity 60 in the basket 52) can be expanded more than when the reading starts after the basket 52 is placed in the placement region 26.

Description of Hardware Configuration of Radio Tag Reading Device



[0031] FIG. 4 is a hardware block diagram illustrating an example of a hardware configuration of the self-checkout device 1 according to an embodiment. The self-checkout device 1 includes a control unit 40, a storage unit 41, and an input and output controller 43.

[0032] The control unit 40 includes a central processing unit (CPU) 40a, a read-only memory (ROM) 40b, and a random access memory (RAM) 40c. The CPU 40a is connected to the ROM 40b and the RAM 40c via a bus line 42. The CPU 40a loads various programs stored in the ROM 40b or the storage unit 41 in the RAM 40c. The CPU 40a controls the self-checkout device 1 by operating in accordance with the various programs loaded in the RAM 40c. That is, the control unit 40 has a general computer configuration.

[0033] The control unit 40 is further connected to the storage unit 41 and the input and output controller 43 via the bus line 42.

[0034] The storage unit 41 is a nonvolatile memory such as a flash memory, a hard disk drive (HDD), or the like that retains stored information even when power is turned off. The storage unit 41 stores programs including a control program P1. The control program P1 is a program that implements a function of the self-checkout device 1.

[0035] The control program P1 may be embedded in advance in the ROM 40b for supply. The control program P1 may be recorded in a computer-readable recording medium such as a CD-ROM, a flexible disc (FD), a CD-R, or a digital versatile disc (DVD) in a file of an installable format or an executable format in the control unit 40 for supply. Further, the control program P1 may be stored on a computer connected to a network such as the Internet and may be downloaded via a network for supply. The control program P1 may be supplied or distributed via a network such as the Internet.

[0036] The storage unit 41 stores the PLU file F1. The PLU file F1 is a file that stores the commodity information (a commodity code, a commodity name, a price, or the like) of the commodity 60 handled in a store. Since the commodity 60 handled in the store varies daily, the PLU file F1 is frequently updated from a server device (not illustrated) connected to the POS terminal 10.

[0037] The input and output controller 43 is connected to the touch panel 3a, the monitor 3b, the change machine 35, the card reader 36, the receipt printer 37, an RFID reader 34, the RFID antenna 32, and the infrared sensor 30. The input and output controller 43 controls various kinds of connected hardware based on instructions from the control unit 40. The control unit 40, the storage unit 41, the input and output controller 43, the touch panel 3a, the monitor 3b, the change machine 35, the card reader 36, and the receipt printer 37 are contained in the POS terminal 10. The RFID reader 34, the RFID antenna 32, and the infrared sensor 30 are contained in the registration counter 20.

[0038] The touch panel 3a detects operation information of an operator on various buttons displayed on the monitor 3b and transmits information in accordance with the operation information to the control unit 40. Instead of the touch panel 3a, mechanical switches may be provided in the body 2 of the POS terminal 10.

[0039] The monitor 3b displays various buttons for operating the self-checkout device 1 or commodity information or the like read by the self-checkout device 1.

[0040] When the customer 50 pays a purchase price of the commodity 60 in cash, the change machine 35 receives paper money and coin paid by the customer 50 and withdraws change money as necessary.

[0041] When the customer 50 performs credit card settlement or makes a payment with a card in which electronic money is registered, the card reader 36 reads content of the card.

[0042] The receipt printer 37 prints a transaction result for the customer 50 on a receipt and issues the receipt.

[0043] The RFID reader 34 radiates radio waves to the radiation range 32a via the connected RFID antenna 32. Then, the RFID reader 34 reads a response signal received by the RFID antenna 32 from the IC tag 62.

[0044] The infrared sensor 30 detects approach of the customer 50 to the registration counter 20. When the approach of the customer 50 can be detected, a sensor to be used is not limited to the infrared sensor 30. For example, the approach of the customer 50 may be detected using an ultrasonic sensor. Alternatively, a pressure sensor may be buried in a floor surface near the registration counter 20 and the pressure sensor may detect reception of a pressure to detect approach of the customer 50.

Description of Functional Configuration of Radio Tag Reading Device



[0045] FIG. 5 is a functional block diagram illustrating an example of a functional configuration of the self-checkout device 1 according to an embodiment. When the control program P1 is loaded in the RAM 40c and is operated, the control unit 40 of the self-checkout device 1 realizes a radio wave transmission unit 140, a radio wave reception unit 141, a reading start instruction unit 142, a reading end instruction unit 143, a commodity information reading unit 144, and a customer detection unit 145 illustrated in FIG. 5 as functional units. The control unit 40 additionally includes a commodity registration processing unit that registers commodity information of commodities purchased by a customer and an accounting processing unit that settles the registered commodities, which are generally realized by the POS terminal 10, but these units are not illustrated since these units are not main constituent elements according to the embodiment.

[0046] The radio wave transmission unit 140 transmits radio waves for communication with the IC tag 62 toward at least a predetermined region including the placement region 26 in which the customer 50 places the commodity 60 in the registration counter 20 (a placement table) on which the commodity 60 to which the IC tag 62 (radio tag) storing the commodity information is attached is placed. The radio wave transmission unit 140 is an example of a transmission unit.

[0047] The radio wave reception unit 141 receives a response signal including the commodity information from the IC tag 62 in response to the radio waves transmitted by the radio wave transmission unit 140. The radio wave reception unit 141 is an example of a reception unit.

[0048] The reading start instruction unit 142 starts operations of the radio wave transmission unit 140 and the radio wave reception unit 141 at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed on the placement region 26. The reading start instruction unit 142 is an example of a reading start unit.

[0049] The reading end instruction unit 143 ends operations of the radio wave transmission unit 140 and the radio wave reception unit 141. The reading end instruction unit 143 is an example of a reading end unit.

[0050] The commodity information reading unit 144 reads the commodity information from the response signal received by the radio wave reception unit 141. The commodity information reading unit 144 is an example of a reading unit.

[0051] The customer detection unit 145 detects approach of the customer 50 to the registration counter 20 (the placement table) .

Description of flow of process performed by self-checkout device



[0052] FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a flow of a process performed by the self-checkout device 1 according to an embodiment.

[0053] The RFID reader 34 starts a tag information reading process of reading tag information (ID) from the IC tag 62 at a timing before the commodities 60 purchased by the customer 50 is placed in the placement region 26 (ACT1). A detailed flow of the tag information reading process will be described later (see FIG. 7).

[0054] Subsequently, the registration processing unit (not illustrated) of the POS terminal 10 performs a registration process of registering the commodities 60 indicated by the tag information (ID) read through the tag information reading process (ACT2). Since the registration process is a process normally performed by a known POS terminal, detailed description will not be made.

[0055] Further, the accounting processing unit (not illustrated) of the POS terminal 10 performs an accounting process on the commodities 60 registered through the registration process (ACT3). Specifically, the POS terminal 10 calculates a sum price of the commodities registered through the registration process. The POS terminal 10 receives payment from the customer and calculates a change amount when an amount of money received from the customer is greater than the sum price. The POS terminal 10 returns the change to the customer. Further, when the customer wants to perform card settlement, the POS terminal 10 reads card information inserted into the card reader 36 by the customer to perform settlement. Since the accounting process is a process normally performed by a known POS terminal, detailed description will not be made. Description of Flow of Tag Information Reading Process

[0056] FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a flow of a tag information reading process performed by the self-checkout device 1 according to an embodiment. The RFID reader 34 performs the tag information reading process based on an instruction of the control unit 40.

[0057] First, the customer detection unit 145 determines whether the customer 50 is detected (ACT10). When it is determined that the customer 50 is detected (Yes in ACT10), the process proceeds to ACT11. Conversely, when it is determined that the customer 50 is not detected (No in ACT10), the process proceeds to ACT12.

[0058] When it is determined in ACT10 that the customer 50 is detected, the reading start instruction unit 142 resets a timer counter p and an elapsed time q and sets a reading state flag a to 0 in ACT11. Thereafter, the process proceeds to ACT13. Subsequently, a state of the tag information reading process is controlled with the timer counter p, the elapsed time q, and the reading state flag a. The timer counter p is a timer in a 1 ms unit and increments whenever 1 ms elapses. The elapsed time q indicates an elapsed time after the reset. In the reading state flag a, a=1 is set when the tag information can be read, and a=0 is set when the tag information may not be read.

[0059] Conversely, when it is determined in ACT10 that the customer 50 is not detected, the commodity information reading unit 144 clears (destroys) all the stored tag information (IDs) in ACT12. Thereafter, the process returns to ACT10.

[0060] After ACT11, in ACT13, the reading start instruction unit 142 causes the radio wave transmission unit 140 to start transmitting radio waves from the RFID antenna 32. Then, the reading start instruction unit 142 causes the radio wave reception unit 141 to start receiving a response signal from the RFID antenna 32. Then, the commodity information reading unit 144 reads the tag information (ID) of the IC tag 62 entering the radiation range 32a. The commodity information reading unit 144 stores the read tag information of the IC tag 62.

[0061] The commodity information reading unit 144 determines whether there is newly read data in the tag information (ID) read in ACT13 (ACT14). When it is determined that there is the newly read data (Yes in ACT14), the process proceeds to ACT15 . Conversely, when it is determined that there is no newly read data (No in ACT14), the process proceeds to ACT16.

[0062] When it is determined in ACT14 that there is not the newly read data, the reading start instruction unit 142 determines in ACT16 whether a=1 is set in the reading state flag a, that is, the tag information is being read. When it is determined that a=1 is set in the reading state flag a (Yes in ACT16), the process proceeds to ACT15. Conversely, when it is determined that a=1 is not set in the reading state flag a (No in ACT16), the process proceeds to ACT17.

[0063] When it is determined in ACT14 that there is the newly read data and it is determined in ACT16 whether a=1 is set in the reading state flag a, that is, the tag information is being read, the reading start instruction unit 142 resets the timer counter p and sets a value of 3000 ms in the elapsed time q in ACT15. Thereafter, the process proceeds to ACT20. The value set in the elapsed time q is exemplary and is not limited to 3000 ms.

[0064] After ACT15, the commodity information reading unit 144 determines whether an ID transmission request command is received (ACT20). The ID transmission request command is a command to transmit the tag information (ID) read by the commodity information reading unit 144 to the accounting processing unit (not illustrated) of the POS terminal 10.

[0065] Specifically, when the customer 50 places the commodities 60 in the placement region 26 and then presses an ID transmission button (not illustrated) displayed on the monitor 3b, the control unit 40 issues the ID transmission request command. More specifically, the touch panel 3a detects that the ID transmission button is pressed. Then, when the touch panel 3a notifies that the ID transmission button is pressed, the control unit 40 issues the ID transmission request command to transmit the ID transmission request command to the RFID reader 34.

[0066] When it is determined that the ID transmission request command is received (Yes in ACT20), the process proceeds to ACT21. Conversely, when it is determined the ID transmission request command is not received (No in ACT20), the process proceeds to ACT22.

[0067] Here, the description returns to ACT16. When it is determined in ACT16 that a=1 is not set in the reading state flag a, the reading start instruction unit 142 updates the elapsed time q (ACT17) . Specifically, the reading start instruction unit 142 subtracts the timer counter p at that time from the elapsed time q to set the new elapsed time q. When the elapsed time q becomes a negative number, q=0 is set.

[0068] Subsequently, the reading start instruction unit 142 determines whether the elapsed time q is 0 (ACT18). When it is determined that the elapsed time q is 0 (Yes in ACT18), the process proceeds to ACT19. Conversely, when it is determined that the elapsed time q is not 0 (No in ACT18), the process proceeds to ACT20.

[0069] When it is determined in ACT18 that the elapsed time q is 0, the commodity information reading unit 144 clears (destroys) all the stored tag information (IDs) and resets the timer counter p (ACT19) . That is, when the newly tag information is not read in ACT13 in q=3000 set in ACT15, that is, over 3 seconds, the commodity information reading unit 144 destroys the retained tag information. Thereafter, the process proceeds to ACT20.

[0070] In the self-checkout device 1, the reading of the IC tag 62 is automatically started when the customer 50 approaches the registration counter 20. Therefore, for example, when the customer 50 passing the vicinity of the registration counter 20 by chance carries the commodity 60 to which the IC tag 62 is attached, the self-checkout device 1 reads the information regarding the IC tag 62 in some cases. Here, since the customer 50 approaching the registration counter 20 by chance subsequently becomes away from the registration counter 20, the new IC tag 62 is rarely read in succession. Accordingly, in the self-checkout device 1 according to the embodiment, when new tag information is not read over a predetermined time (for example, for 3 seconds), the tag information read and stored until then is assumed to be destroyed.

[0071] Again, the description returns to ACT20. When it is determined in ACT20 that the ID transmission request command is received, the commodity information reading unit 144 transmits all the read and stored tag information (IDs) to the registration processing unit (not illustrated) of the POS terminal 10 and sets the reading state flag a to 1 in ACT21. Thereafter, the process proceeds to ACT24. The tag information transmitted to the registration processing unit is registered and processed in ACT2 of FIG. 6 described above.

[0072] FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating the flow of the process performed by the RFID reader 34. Therefore, although not described, the tag information (ID) transmitted to the registration process unit of the POS terminal 10 in ACT21 is converted into a specific commodity name by comparing the tag information to the PLU file F1. Then, through the registration process (ACT2) of FIG. 6 described above, the commodities are registered as the purchased commodities, and the commodity names, the prices, the number of commodities, and the like are displayed on the monitor 3b. The customer 50 checks the commodities purchased by the customer 50 are registered by checking the commodity names, the prices, the number of commodities, and the like which are displayed on the monitor 3b.

[0073] Conversely, when it is determined in ACT20 that the ID transmission request command is not received, the commodity information reading unit 144 determines in ACT22 that a reading stop command is received. The reading stop command is a command to stop reading the tag information (ID) . When it is determined in ACT22 that the reading stop command is received (Yes in ACT22), the process proceeds to ACT23. Conversely, when it is determined that the reading stop command is not received (No in ACT22), the process proceeds to ACT24.

[0074] Specifically, when the customer 50 checks the commodity information displayed on the monitor 3b to check that all the commodities purchased by the customer 50 are registered and presses a reading end button (not illustrated) displayed on the monitor 3b, the control unit 40 issues the reading stop command. More specifically, the touch panel 3a detects that the reading end button is pressed. Then, when the touch panel 3a notifies that the reading end button is pressed, the control unit 40 issues the reading stop command to transmit the reading stop command to the RFID reader 34.

[0075] When it is determined in ACT22 that the reading stop command is received, the reading start instruction unit 142 sets the reading state flag a to 0 in ACT23. Thereafter, the process proceeds to ACT24.

[0076] Conversely, when it is determined in ACT22 that the reading stop command is not received or after ACT21 or ACT23 is performed, the customer detection unit 145 determines whether the customer 50 is detected (ACT24). When it is determined that the customer 50 is detected (Yes in ACT24), the process returns to ACT13. Conversely, when it is determined that the customer 50 is not detected (No in ACT24), the process proceeds to ACT25.

[0077] When it is determined in ACT24 that the customer 50 is not detected, the reading start instruction unit 142 determines in ACT25 whether a=1 is set in the reading state flag a, that is, the tag information is being read. When it is determined that a=1 is set in the reading state flag a (Yes in ACT25), the process returns to ACT13. Conversely, when it is determined that a=1 is not set in the reading state flag a (No in ACT25), the process proceeds to ACT26.

[0078] When it is determined in ACT25 that a=1 is not set in the reading state flag a, the commodity information reading unit 144 clears (destroys) all the stored tag information (IDs) in ACT26. Then, the process of FIG. 7 ends.

[0079] The timer counter p is sequentially added through an interruption process every 1 ms by an elapsing function of a 1 ms timer included in a CPU 40a, as illustrated in ACT30 of FIG. 7, while the tag information reading process is performed. Description of Modification Examples of Embodiment

[0080] In the above-described embodiment, when the infrared sensor 30 detects that the customer 50 approaches the registration counter 20, the RFID reader 34 starts reading the IC tag 62. However, the RFID reader 34 may start reading the IC tag 62 at a timing at which the basket 52 is temporarily placed in the temporary placement region 24.

[0081] That is, a gravimetric sensor (not illustrated in FIG. 1) is installed inside or on the rear of the temporary placement region 24 of the top plate 22. Then, when the gravimetric sensor detects a predetermined weight exceeding the weight of the basket 52, the reading start instruction unit 142 may determine that the basket 52 in which the commodities 60 are contained is placed and cause the radio wave transmission unit 140 to start transmitting radio waves from the RFID antenna 32.

[0082] In such a configuration, the reading of the tag information can be started at a timing before the commodities 60 are placed in the placement region 26.

[0083] As described above, in the self-checkout device 1 (a radio tag reading device) according to the embodiment, the radio wave transmission unit 140 (the transmission unit) transmits a radio wave for communication with the IC tag 62 toward at least a predetermined region including the placement region 26 in which the customer 50 (the operator) places the commodity 60 on the registration counter 20 (the placement table) on which the commodity 60 with the IC tag 62 (the radio tag) storing the commodity information is placed. Then, the reading start instruction unit 142 (the reading start unit) starts operations of the radio wave transmission unit 140 and the radio wave reception unit 141 (the reception unit) receiving a response signal including the commodity information from the IC tag 62 in response to the radio wave at a predetermined timing before the commodity 60 is placed in the placement region 26. Then, the commodity information reading unit 144 (the reading unit) reads the commodity information from the response signal received by the radio wave reception unit 141. Accordingly, it is possible to reliably read the commodity information of commodities 60 without being missed.

[0084] In the self-checkout device 1 (the radio tag reading device) according to the embodiment, the predetermined timing is a timing at which the customer 50 (the operator) approaches the registration counter 20 (the placement table). Accordingly, the RFID reader 34 can start reading the IC tag 62 at the timing before the customer 50 places the commodity 60 in the placement region 26.

[0085] In the self-checkout device 1 (the radio tag reading device) according to the embodiment, the predetermined timing is a timing at which the customer 50 (the operator) places the basket 52 in which the commodity 60 is contained near the placement region 26. Accordingly, the RFID reader 34 can start reading the IC tag 62 at the timing before the customer 50 places the commodity 60 in the placement region 26.

[0086] In the self-checkout device 1 (the radio tag reading device) according to the embodiment, the commodity information reading unit 144 (the reading unit) clears the commodity information read by the commodity information reading unit 144 when the commodity information is not readable over a predetermined time. Accordingly, for example, when a person other than the customer 50 crosses the vicinity of the registration counter 20, the commodity information read by the RFID reader 34 can be destroyed.

[0087] The self-checkout device 1 (the radio tag reading device) according to the embodiment ends the operations of the reading end instruction unit 143 (the reading end unit), the radio wave transmission unit 140 (the transmission unit) and the radio wave reception unit 141 (the reception unit). Accordingly, when the reading of the IC tag 62 is completed, the radiation of the radio waves from the RFID antenna 32 and the reading of the tag information by the RFID reader 34 can be reliably ended.

[0088] While certain embodiments have been described these embodiments have been presented by way of example only, and are not intended to limit the scope of the inventions. Indeed, the novel embodiments described herein may be embodied in a variety of other forms: furthermore various omissions, substitutions and changes in the form of the embodiments described herein may be made without departing from the scope of the inventions. The accompanying claims and there equivalents are intended to cover such forms or modifications as would fall within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.


Claims

1. A radio tag reading device comprising:

a transmission unit configured to transmit a radio wave for communication with a radio tag toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which an operator places a commodity on a placement table on which the commodity with the radio tag storing commodity information is placed;

a reception unit configured to receive a response signal including the commodity information from the radio tag in response to the radio wave transmitted by the transmission unit;

a reading start unit configured to start operations of the transmission unit and the reception unit at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region; and

a reading unit configured to read the commodity information from the response signal received by the reception unit.


 
2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined timing is a timing at which the operator approaches the placement table.
 
3. The device according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the predetermined timing is a timing at which the operator places a basket in which the commodity is contained near the placement region.
 
4. The device according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the reading unit clears the commodity information read by the reading unit when the commodity information is not readable over a predetermined time.
 
5. The device according to any of claims 1 to 4, further comprising:
a reading end unit configured to end operations of the transmission unit and the reception unit.
 
6. A method for causing a computer to function as:

a transmission unit configured to transmit a radio wave for communication with a radio tag toward at least a predetermined region including a placement region in which an operator places a commodity on a placement table on which the commodity with the radio tag storing commodity information is placed;

a reception unit configured to receive a response signal including the commodity information from the radio tag in response to the radio wave;

a reading start unit configured to start the transmitting and the receiving at a predetermined timing before the commodity is placed in the placement region; and

a reading unit configured to read the commodity information from the received response signal.


 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description