Talking Vending Machines

From: David Andrews (
Date: Sat Nov 08 1997 - 17:23:12 PST

Minnesota Services for the Blind has been working with Crane
National Vendors to make their mainline vending machines
accessible to blind vendors. As you know, the new generation of
vending machines use a display LED to communicate with customers
as well as vending machine operators, such as blind vendors.
Heretofore, they have not been accessible to blind persons.

We are pleased and proud to share the following announcement with

                  Crane-National Vendors Announces the ■Talking

The National Vendors ■Talking Vendor■ represents an integration
of technologies that enables visually-impaired operators to fully
service any National Vendors speech-enabled machine on location.
To communicate information to the route person, a text-to-speech
module is connected to the vending machine via an RS232 serial
port. Any text that normally would be viewed by the route person
on the 10-digit display is transmitted to the speech module
where it is subsequently converted into spoken English language.
Any service mode such as price setting, data recall, or
diagnostics will then speak the messages that appear on the

The text-to-speech module is a portable, battery powered unit
that can be carried by the route person to each machine. The unit
features a built-in speaker and adjustable volume control in a
sturdy plastic case.

To use the unit, a route person would only need to open the
vending machine door and connect the unit to the machine through
a DB-9 connector (RS232 serial port). After that, any information
appearing on the display would be spoken. An upgrade kit will
consist of a new custom software EPROM and a serial interconnect
harness (which plugs into the main controller circuit board) for
connecting the text-to-speech module to the vending machine
electronics. The harness would remain in the machine, but the
text-to-speech module could be carried between machines to reduce
the cost of ownership.

Because it is intended to be an aid to the route person, The
Talker Vendor only speaks when the door is open. During use, if
keys are pressed quickly, the unit will not speak until the user
hesitates. This improves sound quality and clarity of use. If a
message is not understood, it can be repeated by pressing the
POUND(#) key on the selection keypad. During data entry, such as
price setting, the Talking Vendor will repeat the price after
each key, if keys are pressed slowly, but if a user enters a
price faster than the ■speak delay■, then the price would be
spoken only after the user stops pressing keys. This adds to the
clarity and ease of use.

Because the unit shares the serial port, it is exclusive of DEX
and printer capabilities. The Talking Vendor feature will be
available on the following machine models which use our new
generation electronics: Snack Center 1 (Models 157, 257, & 464),
Snack Center 2 (Models 158, 258 & 465), Refreshment Center 2
(Models 484 & 487), Refreshment Center 3 (Models 485 & 486),
Refreshment Center 4 (Model 497), Hot Drink Center (Models 633,
635, 637), EuroBev (Models 634, 636), Twin Drink Center (Model
364) and Shoppertron (Model 431). Three units will be available
for evaluation at the October 1997 NAMA show in Orlando, Florida.

Upgrade kits will be available that will include custom software
and interface harnessing for each model listed above. The kit
price is $100.00, with one kit needed for each machine. The
text-to-speech module, which is transportable between machines,
will be available separately for $325.

September 10, 1997

For your information, the text-to-speech unit is a DOUBLETALK PC,
and the NAMA convention is scheduled for October 16-19 in
Orlando. We have a unit in-house which works exceptionally. We
strongly urge your Randolph-Sheppard program look into this
device. Call Chuk Hamilton (800) 383-8155 for any further

Richard C. Davis, Assistant Commissioner


David Andrews (
or BBS: (telnet to or call (612) 696-1975

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