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Communications Technology

Box With Hidden Camera Travels Through the Mail 136

Posted by timothy
from the ok-now-on-to-the-baggage-handling-system dept.
kkleiner writes "The modern mailing system can seem like magic, but the systems in place to reliably get boxes from A to B is a marvel of logistics. Now, a Dutch designer named Ruben van der Vleuten has unraveled the mystery for non-postal employees by installing a camera within a parcel to record the journey."
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Box With Hidden Camera Travels Through the Mail

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:37AM (#43654481) Journal
    Some guy who was working on early models of the toy Furby got a friendly call from the FBI. This time it slipped through, but you might not be that lucky.
    • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:45AM (#43654601)
      Too bad the FBI didn't stop the Furbies when there was still a chance to do so.
    • by show me altoids (1183399) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:52AM (#43654703)
      As long as it doesn't record the inside of a meat packing plant it'll be fine.
    • by Seumas (6865)

      Exactly what I was thinking. In an age when you can be hassled or even arrested for taking a picture of a landmark, you better believe you risk being arrested for "orchestrating a terrorist plot" and using that camera going through the system to help scope out weak-points. Remember, we're no longer a sane society.

    • I don't think this was the US Postal Service.
      • by Kiwikwi (2734467)

        I don't think this was the US Postal Service.

        Correct. This is the Danish postal service.

        To put things in perspective: Shortly after September 11, 2001, a friend of mine figured it might be a funny joke to send me a "fake anthrax letter" though the mail. When the flour leaked from the envelope during shipping, the entire post office was shut down and evacuated, and my friend was arrested in the middle of the night, prosecuted... and cleared of all charges. Because, y'know, it was just flour. No harm, no foul.

        So feel free to try this at home, if you liv

        • by dwye (1127395)

          Because, y'know, it was just flour. No harm, no foul.

          My sister is glutin-intolerant, you insensitive clod!

        • An anarchistic friend (yeah friend, that the ticket) liked to mail letters full of metal glitter. It helps to put two pieces of card stock with the curl together so the envelope is inflated when it hits the rollers in the high speed machines. Print the address neatly so it doesn't get hand sorted.

  • Accelerometer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    An accompanying accelerometer would be interesting as well.

    • Many times frozen items are shipped with an indicator inside that will clearly show if the inside got over the freezing point at any time in its journey. I can't think offhand if I have heard of accelerometers being used routinely, but I'm sure they could be.
      • I've recieved computer equipment with the same ShockWatch stickers that I seen used on Myth Busters.
        http://www.shockwatch.com/monitoring-devices/impact-sensor/impact-indicators/ [shockwatch.com]

      • Re:Accelerometer (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @12:35PM (#43655293)

        I can't think offhand if I have heard of accelerometers being used routinely, but I'm sure they could be.

        Yes, both accelerometers and tilt sensors (for things required to remain upright) are common. They attach to the outside of the box with a big warning sticker saying you should not sign for the package if the threshold indicator has triggered. I have received many packages with these sensors, and more often than not, they are triggered. My experience is that UPS is the worst at abusing packages. We have a security camera on our loading dock, and we have recorded several instances of the UPS delivery guy tossing packages out of the back of this truck onto the concrete, with about a three meter drop from the apogee. When presented with the video evidence, UPS paid for the damage, but the driver kept his job, although now he occasionally glances up at the camera with a scowl.

  • Should be standard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:40AM (#43654535) Journal

    Once these sensors get cheap enough, this should be standard. Or at least standard if you buy insurance. It would be awfully nice to have accelerometers and GPS tracking on important packages. Embedded cameras might help prevent package loss too.

    • by ZiakII (829432) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:43AM (#43654577)
      Embedded cameras might help prevent package loss too

      How after they loose the package are they going to view the video footage?
      • by denzacar (181829)

        By having the camera sending photos/videos to the interwebz.

        It could probably already be done in under 100 grams of additional weight. At least for all domestic shipments.
        International though...
        Not until they come up with a camera-GPS-transmitter-battery combo that can work for a month and weighs 100 grams or less.

      • by Ultra64 (318705)

        Well, when my dog gets loose, he usually finds his own way home.

      • How after they loose the package are they going to view the video footage?

        Maybe the notion that some packages have cameras in them will result in better package handling, resulting in fewer lost packages.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The cops can see which postal employee is a criminal.

    • by Leif_Bloomquist (311286) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:46AM (#43654617) Homepage

      It would be awfully nice to have accelerometers and GPS tracking on important packages.

      They sort of exist in a low-tech form. My company uses these on every shipment.

      http://www.shockwatch.com/monitoring-devices/impact-sensor/impact-indicators/ [shockwatch.com]

    • Once these sensors get cheap enough, this should be standard. Or at least standard if you buy insurance. It would be awfully nice to have accelerometers and GPS tracking on important packages.

      For big stuff:

      http://www.sensr.com/products/shipping-and-logistics/ [sensr.com]

      For small stuff:

      http://www.shockwatch.com/monitoring-devices/impact-sensor/impact-indicators/ [shockwatch.com]

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      You mean like the sensors that are in almost every modern cell phone these days?

      Instead of the jury-rigged lash-up this guy used, he could have written an app and taped a smart phone to the inside of the box with a hole cut out for the camera. Much smaller, lighter, self-powered, and it could have MMSd a picture back once an hour with GPS coordinates so he knew where it was.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        Instead of the jury-rigged lash-up this guy used, he could have written an app and taped a smart phone to the inside of the box with a hole cut out for the camera. Much smaller, lighter, self-powered, and it could have MMSd a picture back once an hour with GPS coordinates so he knew where it was.

        And pray that:
        - His more expensive smart phone doesn't get lost.
        - It doesn't run out of juice because the package took more than the 12-24 hours your average smart phone lasts
        - It doesn't get discovered and create a

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          - His more expensive smart phone doesn't get lost.

          It took a lot of time and effort to build the system in that picture. A cellphone is a prepackaged complete system with battery and sensors and a way of communicating with the outside world so you can track it. If your time is worth nothing, the building hardware over and over again is the way to go.

          - It doesn't run out of juice because the package took more than the 12-24 hours your average smart phone lasts

          Ok, so you hook a simple battery to the phone that will run it for longer. This is a $20 at most device. Problem solved for less money than it takes to think about it.

          - It doesn't get discovered and create a stir why it was it was necessary to send frequent pictures/video of the mail facilities (will someone think of terrorism!1!!)

          Why yes, this probem doesn't exist for th

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Give it up. This is slashdot. They 3D print Stallman's dick here after spending a year fucking about with lashups like this story. Only to shove it up their ass.

            What the fuck is a lashup?

        • or it gets miss routed out side of the usa and you pay $15-$20+ a meg.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        He could have put a $600 cell phone in the box. But instead he used a $20 breadboard setup he made. This is Slashdot. We used to admire that sort of thing around here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As I was watching the video, I was thinking it would be great to see an accelerometer chart right next to the camera image (so you could see which steps caused the biggest spikes).

    • They actually already have force burst sensors for packages, for damage liability on expensive item transport. I think some insurance companies require it so they can sue the transport company if need be.

  • Looks like a bomb... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZiakII (829432) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:41AM (#43654545)
    I'm actually surprised this didn't get flagged as it looks like a bomb.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can someone tell that idiot that masking tape is not designed to hold things?

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:53AM (#43654725)
    don't know why so many complaints. OK so has been done before, but I haven't seen such video before. However, this package was "lucky" to get good shots (camera could have been pointing mostly at side of another box or at a wall). probably too risky to try in countries like US, China, or Russia as this can get certain attention from authorities you don't want to have.
    • by Firethorn (177587)

      One of the things I would have done is had at least 2 cameras. Preferably 4 or even 6. Still, it doesn't look like he mailed it far, so it's possible that he simply mailed it a few times until he got sufficient footage.

    • It's one of those videos where it sounds like a really cool idea then you watch it and it's like what did I expect? Parcel goes to depot. Parcel is sorted. Parcel is delivered.

      • But weren't you just waiting for it to go down one of those spiral slides off of the conveyor belt... and then it did! Oh! The excitement!.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @11:56AM (#43654773)
    Can we get the guys at Atheist Shoes to do the same :)
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      The camera only caught the feet of the worker who tossed it in the trash. The only clue was that he was wearing Jesus Shoes.

    • Can we get the guys at Atheist Shoes to do the same :)

      I know, I know - somewhere out there some wannabe genious is chortling to themselves saying "Silly /.er, won't the only cameras they get back be the ones in boxes that were actually delivered? If the box goes missing, the camera inside the box will also go missing!"

      Fie upon such notions, I say - fie! This is what your so-called "classical" physics leads young and impressionable minds to believe. Alas, the sorry state of education these days.

  • The camera arrived broken.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @12:36PM (#43655305)

    I can see a government viewing this as a way to probe mail security. Imagine if I'd sent the same video box to my Senator; maybe even with a GPS unit inside and broadcast ability. That would allow me to figure out how Congressional mail is sorted and secured. They wouldn't be happy about that.

    • I can see a government viewing this as a way to probe mail security. Imagine if I'd sent the same video box to my Senator; maybe even with a GPS unit inside and broadcast ability. That would allow me to figure out how Congressional mail is sorted and secured. They wouldn't be happy about that.

      I imagine you'd know where the most strategic place to bomb the mail sorters is, because i'ts not going any further then that.

    • by adolf (21054)

      Also: Because nobody has thought of this before.

  • It looked like he use an Arduino in that box. I wonder if he could have used a Raspberry Pi.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sure, makes perfect sense to use something more expensive, unnecessarily powerful and with worse power consumption...

      Oh wait. It runs linux...

    • I wonder if he could have used a bare ATmega328P instead of a costly Arduino.

  • Royksopp would be more appropriate soundtrack

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The video is clearly filmed in Denmark, I recognize many of the places in Copenhagen, and you can see the "Post Danmark" logo on several of the uniforms (http://postdanmark.dk)

    Jacob

  • Make sure the package does not have 'Atheist' writtten on it: http://boingboing.net/2013/03/26/boxes-sealed-with-atheist-tape.html [boingboing.net]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's was the Danish postal service. While a camera in a box might be a problem in other parts of the world I doubt that anyone in Denmark is going to be upset about this. Maybe the postal workers don't like being filmed but I don't think anyone will be freaking out about bombs or terrorism.

    Great idea and fun video.

  • Why is it that the box nearly always has the best camera angle? The photo looks as though there is one camera in the box, but the video seems to always have the box on the outside of the stack, with the correct side facing out. Was he just lucky or did he do it several times and splice the film?
  • I read:

    Boy With Hidden Camera Travels Through the Mail

    Now that's a story.

  • by antdude (79039) on Tuesday May 07, 2013 @02:37PM (#43656937) Homepage Journal
  • This video is a wonderful reminder of the miracle of the modern postal service. We get so complacent with it and just take it for granted that if I write a letter (yes, I still do write real letters on real paper and with a real fountain pen), stuff it in an envelope with $0.46 worth of stamps attached, and put it into some blue metal box somewhere in the United States it will get to any other point in the United States (including the territories out in the Pacific) within a week. Most of the time it tak

/earth: file system full.

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