The worst part about receiving a damaged package – aside from the damage, of course – is the ensuing blame game that unravels afterward. You call the company that sent you the product, who then blames UPS, who then blames you, who then blames UPS, who then blames the company, and round and round we go.
Cambridge Consultants wants to put an end to all the bickering. The company has developed the DropTag, a tiny, low-power Bluetooth sensor that can be stuffed inside a package before it leaves the warehouse.
As the package makes its way to you, the DropTag measures dropping and shaking in real-time and is able to relay the data to a companion smartphone app which, in turn, can relay not only the package’s damage condition, but its location as well.
According to the company:
DropTag can be remotely interrogated at any stage of the delivery process – with a maximum range of about 50m indoors. So as a parcel is moved around a warehouse or carried in the back of a van, smart handsets could remotely and automatically check the package at each stage of its journey – reporting the status back to headquarters and so allowing an early proactive response to any incident.
This local connectivity capability provides a range of tracking possibilities – for example, the location of the parcel can be verified in real time if it is transmitting to a GPS-enabled smart handset. And boxes need no longer be individually scanned at logistics checkpoints. Smart connected ‘gateway’ zones within warehouses could perform this role automatically, establishing the condition and location of each parcel remotely as it passes through from one area of the warehouse to another.
So basically, you, the company that ships the product, and the delivery service could all be monitoring the package as it moves around. Cambridge Consultants says that each sensor only costs about $2 to build, so it’ll be interesting to see if various companies and shipping services see a solution like this as being able to save enough time to offset the cost. It could also be cheap enough to offer as a premium shipping add-on for consumers.
No word on if or when we might see these in the wild, but the company will be demonstrating it at an industrial technology show in Germany in early April.
One Per Cent: Parcel sensor knows your delivery has been dropped [New Scientist]