Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sending it "snail mail" in the true sense of the word

The expression, "send it by snail-mail" has taken on a whole new meaning for Muriel, Austin and Cecil. In fact people using their mail delivery service just might have to wait for their package or mail to take weeks, maybe even months to arrive.

What makes this delivery service unique is that the trio are...snails. As in the gastropods that live in back yards. As in the real live thing(s).

These snails have been fitted with equipment to allow them to send e-mails on behalf of visitors to a website and it's all 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".

Read the entire story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7458531.stm

BTW - to date the snails have managed to deliver 14 messages.

There's also a web site devoted to the system and perhaps the site coordinates says it all:

The Web site also provides background profiles for the trio:

Agent 001

Also known as Cecil

Hours of service: 978
Deliveries made: 4
Current status: Carrying message
Average delivery time: 3.26 days

Agent 002

Also known as Austin

Hours of service: 2493
Deliveries made: 10
Current status: Available
Average delivery time: 1.96 days

Agent 003

Also known as Muriel
Hours of service: 978
Deliveries made: 0
Current status: Available
Average delivery time: None as yet

Interesting that Agent 003 - Muriel - hasn't made any deliveries yet... Too slow...too shy... One can only speculate.

A snail-cam will be available during the trio's visit to Los Angeles while participating in the Slow Art Exhibition from August 11-15 here:

Don't expect any quick deliveries, though.

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