When you’re a kid, dropping a letter in the mailbox knowing that it will end up across the country or across the world in a matter of days feels almost like magic – it’s hard to even comprehend how those men in blue do it. Of course, with age and experience comes wisdom, and with it, a little bit of bitterness as well. After getting burned by the mail with late, mysteriously damaged, and missing letters enough times, that childhood wonder can warp into a slightly more jaded sense of wonder: just what are they doing with my stuff, anyway?
The micro GPS mail logger from Brickhouse Security is perhaps one of the few devices that can earnestly answer that question for you. By using GPS components configured in an ultra-thin form factor, it allows suspicious mailers to pry open that veil of secrecy that shrouds conventional mail service and find out what’s going on between point A and point B.
The logger, which is smaller than the footprint of a regular business size envelope, resembles a the plain green printed circuit boards you may be used to seeing, but has been made bendable to account for the wear and tear of mail handling. It connects to a separate 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery via a short cable to keep it powered, and has a microSD slot for recording data on its included data card. The entire package is less than a quarter of an inch thick, making it easy to slip into even compact envelopes that aren’t meant for accommodating much bulk.
Image Courtesy of BrickHouse Security
Since it has no transmitter to broadcast its location in real time, the logger writes all location data on its microSD card for retrieval later. It can be configured to collect the information every 2, 5 or 10 minutes, or use an internal tilt sensor to log data only when it moves, since mail spends a lot of time sitting around doing nothing. Continuous logging will only provide 20 hours of run time before the battery dies, but using the motion activation, the logger can run for up to two weeks while it crisscrosses the globe.
After an envelope arrives, its microSd card can be removed, and the data from it fed into Google Earth for a graphic review of where it has been, and when. Besides recording simple coordinate data, the logger also digitally scribbles down altitude and speed. It’s like riding along shotgun in a tiny, tiny envelope.
For consumers, the logger has a variety of uses, ranging from simple curiosity (Do mail truck drivers speed?) to raising alarm (Did they seriously just send my letter in a complete circle?). Although a lack of real-time response won’t let you know when Uncle Phil received his birthday card, you might just be able to make smarter decisions on future mailing after a few sent with the GPS logger. Just make sure Uncle Phil sends it back.
Of course, for those who actually run the shipping game, it could be me of much more use. Are letters running off track when they depart the Salt Lake City processing center? Is the middle of the day killing productivity? Are drivers stopping for one too many coffee breaks? For smaller couriers, the device holds the possibility of speeding up and improving service.
Unfortunately, it’s not cheap to play mail spy. The micro GPS mail; logger runs for a steep $695.95, far more than your run-of-the-mill consumer GPS logger, and even pricier than larger units meant for keeping tabs on packages. But for serious shippers, it might worth the research. More information can be found at BrickHouse Security.
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