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Snail-mail Made Smarter

Paperless communication solutions are popular, but no matter how well we’ve digitized things like sending letters and paying bills, snail mail remains a real and necessary solution for transporting packages and parcels from point A to point B.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) was on the floor at CES 2017 with an exhibit dedicated to innovation. In addition to packaging that’s engineered to keep tech products safe in transit, they’ve also drummed up solutions aimed to make the shipping process more pleasant and efficient.

The iconic blue boxes that line street corners in the US are getting a bit of an upgrade. Researchers and developers tested a new, AI-powered concept that gives the standard blue box a facelift by adding a connected hub on top. The hub helps answer basic questions that would normally require a trip into the physical post office, like how much a package might cost to ship, when it will arrive, and where the nearest post office is.

Other connected solutions from the USPS include a smart kiosk that was tested in rural communities where physical post offices were far away, or only offered select services. The kiosks allow users to hold mail, schedule pickups, buy stamps and more.

The USPS is also working on at-home innovations that use Bluetooth to track packages. For the holiday season, they showcased a fun concept that shows the shipping process through lighted ornaments, color-coded to represent where gifts were shipped, received, and opened.

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