Thursday, June 19, 2008

And you thought the Post Office was slow ...

From the UK comes this twist on email delivery. Users send an email from the Real Snail Mail website. That email gets transmitted to a tank containing real, live snails outfitted with Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips. As a snail passes a sensor, your email gets transmitted to the snail's RFID chip. Your designated gastropod letter carrier (let's call him "Rocket") then hurries along at, well, a snail's pace, until it comes within range of another sensor, which reads the RFID chip to receive your email for transmission via normal internet routing to its intended destination.
Instead of instantaneous communication, sent messages will travel at 0.03mph (0.05km/h) and could take days, weeks or even months to arrive.

It is part of a "slow art" project called Real Snail Mail at Bournemouth University in the UK which will be showcased in Los Angeles in August.

Each snail is fitted with a tiny capsule which holds a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. RFID allows objects to communicate over short distances.

Users of the service send a message via the Real Snail Mail website which is routed to the tank at the speed of light to await collection by a snail "agent".

As the three snails slowly amble around the tank, they occasionally come into range of an electronic reader, which attaches the e-mail message to the RFID chip.

The electronic messages are then physically carried around the tank by the snails until one of the gastropods passes close to a second reader.

It is then forwarded over the net in the usual way.
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these snails from the not-so-swift completion of their appointed rounds. Giddyup, little snail!

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