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DropTag knows when your damaged package was dropped

Posting in Energy

A package marked “fragile” arrives, you sign for it, and then find its contents broken. Was it the sender, the warehouse, a driver, the courier or the postman?

DropTag from Cambridge Consultants can help narrow things down by telling you when the package was dropped – before you sign for it. The sensor platform combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer, and a memory chip. New Scientist explains:

  1. The tag is stuck on a parcel as it leaves the warehouse, and it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences.
  2. Once it’s in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before signing for it.
  3. A readout shows what's happened to the parcel in transit, along with a graph that shows you if the box has been mistreated -- and when. (Depending on what the package contains, you might want to refuse delivery.)

Since DropTag can be accessed remotely at any stage of the delivery process (within 50 meters), it can report the status back to headquarters, allowing for an early, proactive response.

The $2 tag is reusable and can run on a single coin battery for many weeks. Watch a video of packages being shaken and dropped here.

They’re also investigating additional sensors that might indicate if items that need to be kept cool get too warm, Gizmag reports.

"The explosion in internet shopping has led to a huge increase in the number of parcel deliveries," Cambridge Consultants’ Tom Lawrie-Fussey says in a release. "But we're probably all guilty of signing for a delivery on our doorstep without taking the time to unpack the items to check that the contents are in good condition. We're then faced with the hassle of having to arrange the return of any damaged goods."

British patents are already filed, but the U.K.-based company hopes a major delivery chain or e-commerce firm will buy into the tech at the Hannover Messe tech fair in Germany in April.

[Via New Scientist]

Image: Cambridge Consultants

— By on February 7, 2013, 5:00 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure