Good Thinking

Smart postage box packs e-ink label, sensors, camera, speaker and mic

Smart postage box packs e-ink ...
The Box, from Living Packets, is a smart box loaded with sensors and an internet connection
The Box, from Living Packets, is a smart box loaded with sensors and an internet connection
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The Box has an internal camera, as well as built-in microphone and speaker
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The Box has an internal camera, as well as built-in microphone and speaker
The Box, from Living Packets, is a smart box loaded with sensors and an internet connection
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The Box, from Living Packets, is a smart box loaded with sensors and an internet connection
The Box has a capacity of up to 32 liters (8.5 gal), and can fold flat for storage
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The Box has a capacity of up to 32 liters (8.5 gal), and can fold flat for storage
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There are few things more exciting in our modern world than watching and waiting for a parcel to arrive – and by the same token, few things more frustrating than when it arrives broken or doesn’t arrive at all. To prevent that, or at least make it easier to figure out what went wrong, European start-up LivingPackets has now unveiled the second generation of its reusable smart packaging called The Box.

First of all, The Box is pretty functional as a postage box, with a rigid outer shell that folds flat for storage, and up to 32 liters (8.5 gallons) of inside space. That space is adjustable depending on the cargo, so there’s no need for bubble wrap or packing peanuts or other single-use materials.

Then things get a bit more high-tech. The Box packs a 7.8-inch e-ink screen instead of a paper label, which means the address or other details can be updated as needed via a built-in internet connection. The benefit of e-ink is that it doesn’t need continuous power – it only takes a small zap to change the image when needed, so energy consumption stays minimal.

The Box is decked out with a variety of sensors that can monitor the parcel’s condition at all times, and lets users check in on it live using a smartphone app.

But the first generation of The Box already had all of that. The new version builds on that base with more impressive features. For starters, the suite of sensors has been upgraded. In addition to the first-gen Box’s monitoring of temperature, humidity and shocks, the new Box can also sense pressure, motion, weight and light.

The Box has a capacity of up to 32 liters (8.5 gal), and can fold flat for storage
The Box has a capacity of up to 32 liters (8.5 gal), and can fold flat for storage

There’s also now an internal camera that allows the user to see inside, making sure that the contents are still in the right number of pieces. Bizarrely, there’s also a speaker and a microphone built in, so the user can call The Box and speak directly to the mail carrier. That feels like a strange service that’s ripe for pranks.

Finally, The Box has an electromechanical lock, to make sure your parcel stays secure until it reaches your door. And once you’re done with it, you don’t just throw it out. The Box is made to be reusable, potentially saving huge amounts of single-use boxes and packing materials from going to waste.

It may have the most unimaginative name possible, but The Box seems like a pretty solid idea. There’s no word yet on when it might be available, or how you’d go about getting your hands on one, but Living Packets says mass production is due to begin in the third quarter of 2020.

Source: Living Packets

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5 comments
paul314
What does this thing cost? And what could possibly go wrong with a remotely-accessible camera and microphone that you can have delivered anywhere in the world?
see3d
Uses for a speaker and mic in the box - "Your mission if you wish to accept it can be retrieved from this box now. This box will self destruct in 30 seconds..."
Baker Steve
With my experience of carriers, they'll smash this just as effectively as they smash everything else.
Mr Alex
I think this is a valiant effort to address the problem of waste in deliveries, however the environmental claims do not stack up. Cardboard packaging is widely recycled and usually made from recycled materials itself. This is made from expanded polypropylene which has potential to cause much more damage if even a small number get disposed irresponsibly, let alone the electronics inside.

The rise and fall of bike sharing schemes has shown that people will not treat hardware with respect when it is provided as a service.
foxpup
I like the look of the green starfield in black backgound look except there are no green stars. Just ask Dr. Feinman or rather read his book. Great idea but the people to win over are the leaders of the USPS. It's a bit too gadgety. Standard size and the ability to be flattened and stacked are valuable but electronics don't need to be there, just a fused in QR pattern that makes it unique will do wonders. Details of destination can sit in the USPS database.