This post is sponsored by the United States Postal Service
Despite living in a digital world, there is something special about getting a letter or package in the mail. We’re constantly connected to those we care about through a text, social media, and email but getting a piece of mail is a cherished piece of communication because of what the act of writing a letter, a sentimental greeting in a card, or even packing up a box represents— love. Finding a piece of mail from a friend of loved one is like getting a little piece of their heart because of the time they took out of their day to let you know they care.
Even in today’s digital age, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is responsible for picking up, processing, and delivering millions of letters and packages each day. There’s a lot of technology operating behind the scenes to ensure that items sent by those we care about are delivered to our homes. Chances are you’ve never stopped to think about USPS’ technology innovations but they’re committed to investing in information technology and evolving their products and services to better meet the needs of their customers.
This year I joined USPS at CES for a closer look at the technology behind some innovative products, services, and prototypes that are designed to make it even easier to send mail and track packages anytime and anywhere. Here are 5 of the technology innovations that USPS shared at CES 2017.
The Most Wonderful Ornament
While you can already use a tracking number to track the status of your package via the USPS website, this holiday season I got to test a prototype of The Most Wonderful Ornament when sending a package from our home in the Washington, D.C. area to my parents in California. The Most Wonderful Ornament combines a custom box-opening tracker with the existing USPS tracking platform to provide a visual status updates about the state of a shipped package using three different colored lights inside the ornament.
I used The Most Wonderful Ornament to send Christmas gifts to my parents in California and loved being able to watch the ornament change colors as the box made its way across the country. When our package was in transit to California, our Most Wonderful Ornament turned blue. I could tell when it was delivered to my parents’ house because the ornament turned red. Then on Christmas morning we anxiously waited for our ornament to turn green so we could call my parents right away and ask what they thought of our gift.
Here’s a look at The Most Wonderful Ornament and how this represents the future of tracking and smart packaging.
Smart Blue Box
What if your mailbox could talk to you and answer questions about mailing a package, sending a letter internationally, the time of the mail pickup, or even where to get wrapping paper? USPS debuted the Smart Blue Box at CES and this interactive mailbox uses artificial intelligence (AI) to answer consumer questions. Smart Blue Boxes are connected to the internet so customers can ask them questions and get answers at any time of the day. I loved interacting with the Smart Blue Box because not only did it answer my questions but it definitely had a fun personality that made it a joy to interact with!
Seamless Shipping Kiosks
Combine the artificial intelligence technology of a Smart Blue Box with the presence of a Seamless Shipping Kiosk and customers will be able to get their questions answered immediately and access to postal services at any time of the day. The Seamless Shipping Kiosk is a low-cost self-service station designed to help customers complete transactions like shipping a Priority Mail box, brown box, buying stamps, and even holding mail to provide around-the-clock convenience.
I love that Seamless Shipping Kiosks can provide the products and services you need anytime you visit your local post office thanks to an easy to use touch screen interface that makes it quick and easy to get what you need and go!
The Smart Mailbox
What’s the original social network? The mailbox! For over 240 years the United States Postal Service has been connected people across the country through their mailboxes and now the traditional mailbox has gotten a digital makeover. Just like smart home security cameras can send a push notification to your phone if it detects movement, the Smart Mailbox can recognize that your mail has arrived and send you a notification, making this feature especially helpful when you’re waiting for a special delivery.
Precious Cargo Boxes
Everything that you send is precious cargo but when it comes to smartphones, tablets, and laptops, extra care is often needed to ensure they get from point A to point B safely. Gone are the days of bubble wrapping your devices and filling extra space with biodegradable peanuts and eco-friendly air pillows. Thanks to USPS’ Precious Cargo Boxes you can place your digital device inside, seal, and ship!
These specially designed boxes feature blue polyethylene cushions that are strategically placed on the box walls to lock devices in place to provide compression at every angle and greater security as you ship your devices. They’re currently available from the USPS Shipping Supplies section of the website in laptop, tablet, and smartphone sizes.
The United States Postal Service compensated me for my role as one of their Tech Influencers while at CES but all opinions are my own.