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UK's Royal Mail Launches First Intelligent Stamps 69

An anonymous reader writes "The Royal Mail on Friday issued what it called the world's first 'intelligent stamps,' designed to interact with smartphones using image-recognition technology. The Royal Mail's latest special-issue stamps, devoted to historic British railways, are designed to launch specially developed online content when a user snaps them using an image-recognition application available on iPhone or Android handsets. 'This is the first time a national postal service has used this kind of technology on their stamps and we're very excited to be bringing intelligent stamps to the nation's post,' a Royal Mail spokesman said in a statement. 'Intelligent stamps mark the next step in the evolution of our stamps, bringing them firmly into the 21st century.'"
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UK's Royal Mail Launches First Intelligent Stamps

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  • I beat it to the first post. Take that stamp.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clone53421 ( 1310749 )

      I came here to say the same thing: The stamps are not smart any more than a barcode is smart or a book is smart or a painting is smart. “Smart” implies the ability to process information, not just the ability to store or convey information.

      The phone that can snap the photo and recognize the stamp may, arguably, be called smart. The stamps are not smart.

      • Ever since I first time saw this images on what was then introduced me as "smart paper" I have hated them (or rather the "smart" hype) because there is nothing anymore smart than barcode is smart in them. And nobody in their right mind would call barcode smart.
  • Barcodes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:06PM (#33491464) Homepage

    2D barcodes designed to be read by a phone, largely for marketing purposes, have been in use in Japan since forever.

    Also, this is pointless.

    • It reminds me of the Cauzin Softstrip [] from the 80's. Some of the Apple II and Mac magazines had little programs included using those [].

    • by fucket ( 1256188 )
      Can I read these with my CueCat?
      • >Can I read these with my CueCat?

        No, the stamps discussed in the article contain what look like normal images. It is iOS and Android image recognition being used with apps (both named Junaio) to bring up the related content.

        I believe the CueCat scans something similar to slanted barcode (still data read in a line - 1D).

        The last part of the stamps article mentions a second technology that seems unrelated to the new stamps, except it could be put on other stamps perhaps. It is 2D code with a grid of tiny

  • Stamps for how long? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:11PM (#33491526) Homepage
    Except for philately (marketing to collectors is a somewhat lucrative way to raise money for postal services), are not stamps with nice designs on the way out? Go to the post office in many countries today, and what you'll get on your letter is a simple sticker printed by a computer with a bar code or other machine-readable images. The recipient of your letter in another country no longer gets an exotic representation of some facet of your country's culture.
    • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:40PM (#33491806)
      In Germany we still have stamps (although they're self-adhesive now). However, business mail often uses either barcodes (for packages) or alphanumeric codes or DataMatrix barcodes in the envelope's window. I think that's a good split; you still get nice stamps for personal mail but business mail can use much more efficient ways of franking their mail.

      Oh, we do however have stopped putting stamps on packages; those have a standardized adhesive label and are paid for directly at the post station. But at least the letters remain.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        In Belgium there are also (self adhesive) stamps if you want to buy them and put them on an envelope. Only sold per 10. If you go to the post office, then there will be a standard stamp on it. Sometimes the stamp IS what people are after. e.g. on 8-8-88 as many people as possible wanted to mail from Germany in PLZ 8888 (This was before the PLZ changed to 5 digits)

      • I'm skeptical about what you say as Germany is one of the few countries that deliveries from there seem to mostly have real stamps, although I have also received packages from the Netherlands and Belgium with real stamps. Now the UK for example, yes it's mostly just labels with printing on them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 )

      Except for philately...

      I'm sorry, what?

    • In the US... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KingAlanI ( 1270538 )

      Physical stamps are still quite available, but the postal clerks use number-and-barcode labels, particularly for items with an unusual postage charge (if it's a standard letter [44c], for instance, they might just grab a 44c stamp from the drawer, but if it's something like $2.63, they'll print out a barcode label rather than dig for exactly $2.63 worth of stamps)

      There's also click-and-ship (print shipping labels online), which essentially combines a computer-printed address label with barcode postage. [I l

  • by DamienRBlack ( 1165691 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:12PM (#33491532)
    It's kind of the phone that is providing all the intelligence, right? I mean, you have to dig pretty far before you can call an image intelligent.
    • Um, have you heard anyone insult someone by saying "You're as dumb as a stamp!"? Clearly, they do have intelligence- enough that being compared to one isn't an insult.

      Of course, you'd at least have to be smart as a stamp to understand that, so I won't be too hopeful.
  • Help (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dandart ( 1274360 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:25PM (#33491678)
    So... how will putting phone-scannable barcodes on stamps actually help? And what do I need it for?
    • Exactly what I was wondering. I seem to recall that postal service in London over a century ago was provided several times a day. I think here in many parts of the U.S. too. I'll betcha the service isn't that good now nor will this techno-crap improve it.

    • So... how will putting phone-scannable barcodes on stamps actually help?

      by generating press attention and (subsequent) revenue, they'll help the postal services - and, in this case, perhaps the railways.

      And what do I need it for?

      Unless you print barcodes on your envelopes that are tied to e.g. a business mailing account.. you'd need it to send snailmail with.
      You don't necessarily need -these- stamps, of course. You can use any stamps. These are just for the aforementioned reasons.

      Personally I think it's a

  • Waste of cash (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wish they'd spend on the money on something else. Like - I don't know - perhaps inproving their piss poor service, delivering my post before noon etc etc etc etc

  • What nugget of brilliance from a marketing department is is this? What the fuck does this give you that a web site with a handful of links (1 per stamp) would not? What is the point of downloading an image recognition app and going to the trouble of photographing a stamp when clicking on a link would do just as well?

  • I seriously don't see how this can be useful aside from keeping up the price of stamps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:49PM (#33491880)

    They have a kind now that you can send right from the iphone and it gets there instantly without a stamp or envelope, and it's free.
    I think that's kind of more high-tech than a stamp you can take a picture of.

  • Look Around You, and you may find the announcement for the intelligent calcium [] stamp, featuring the more "advanced" elements of the periodic table.

  • is in the eye of the beholder...not in the stamps..
  • Personally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jones@zen.[ ]uk ['co.' in gap]> on Monday September 06, 2010 @05:07PM (#33492040)

    I just wish they would stop wasting money on such gimmicks and actually bother to deliver the mail correctly. I received someone's birthday card a while back, the house number was a match for mine but the rest of the address wasn't close. Was in the same town of course, but rather than ruin someone's birthday I hand delivered the card myself.

    So to sum up, the Royal Mail can't even be bothered to deliver until after noon and it seems like they now are employing people who can't even be bothered to deliver to the correct address.

    But hey, they have "cool" stamps.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Before you rant at your postman about this, you should realise that the sorting office are responsible for this sort of mistake. postmen pretty much just look at the number on the envelope as they have to average 5MPH or something to do their rounds on time.

      The problem lies with Royal Mail outsourcing their mail sorting to employment agencies who employ temp workers. Temp workers on minimum wage don't really give a toss about sorting your mail properly.

      The whole system sucks, and it's ridiculous that they'r

  • Okay, how the fuck is this YRO? Yet another indication of sliding Slashdot quality. How does this even have to do with the internet itself? No copyright stuff, no censorship, etc etc. How do these stamps affect our Internet freedom? If I didn't follow the Twitter feed and see occasionally interesting topics, I would be long done with this site.
  • It's a shame Royal Mail have spent lord knows how much on this useless gimmick whilst cutting back the number of deliveries and driving up the cost of stamps year on year.

    Their job is to deliver mail. Once they get that right, and start booking profits and reinvesting that cash back into the network, then fine, let them make as many gimmicks as they like.

    That time isn't now.
  • I don't want online content from my postage stamps. I want an efficient postal service. No doubt you could do the same thing with milk bottles, soap packets and jars of jam to "bring them into the 21st century", but it wouldn't make the milk, soap or jam somehow better.
  • by mindwhip ( 894744 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @05:28PM (#33492260)

    To interact with the stamp, a user needs to download the Junaio application, available from the iPhone’s App Store or the Android Market, the Royal Mail said. This can then be used to snap an image of the stamp, which triggers a short film of English character actor Bernard Cribbins reading W H Auden’s poem, “The Night Mail”.

    So let me get this right...

    1) Buy stamp with one of 6 pictures on it
    2) Download App onto your phone using part of my monthly quota (and possibly have to pay for the App as well)
    3) Using the App have it recognize one of 6 images (remember Google goggles can manage images of tons of things...)
    4) Use the phone to download and read/listen to some web content using more of my quota on the tiny screen and low quality speaker

    Seems complex and expensive when it could be

    1) Put a short and easy to remember web address of the content on the bottom of the stamps and maybe some posters in the Post Office (the few that are left)
    2) Type the address into my web browser on my PC with big screen, good speakers and unlimited use...


    1) Go to local library, borrow book for free with many poems including the one relating to the stamps on it and read while enjoying the sunshine...

    Sometimes technology is not the answer you have been looking for

  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @05:29PM (#33492266)

    Okay, I like trains, and would probably check out the content the first time I got a letter with such a stamp on it... but the second time? No.

    And who thought of the GREAT idea of linking postal stamps to online stuff? "Hey, old chap, let's do something that reminds our customers how little they actually need us!" :)

    If the Royal Post delivered things in a timely manner, didn't randomly go on strike all the time, and had "tracking" that actually tracked beyond "...and then we gave the letter to another country's post, and we have no idea what happened next," it'd be a lot more useful.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dissolved ( 887190 )
      I am not a postman but come off it, they're not "randomly" going on strike they are fighting for their working practices (whether you agree/sympathise or not is another matter altogether). Also how is it the Royal Mail's fault for what happens when packages go outside of the United Kingdom? They can give best endeavours tracking but are totally at the mercy of La Poste or whoever it's gone to.
    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      "tracking" that actually tracked beyond "...and then we gave the letter to another country's post, and we have no idea what happened next," it'd be a lot more useful.

      You're lucky you get that much. I've had five "signed for" letters delivered to me without a signature so far this year. I complained about two of them (the contents was worth over £100). Royal Mail are "investigating".

  • Cute idea, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Freddybear ( 1805256 )

    Why not incorporate a QR-code symbol in the stamp? That would work on almost any phone without requiring special apps.

  • Cuecat 2010? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by BandoMcHando ( 85123 )

    Sounds a touch like it....

  • Making an over-glorified bar code analog into a stamp which allows one to easily be linked to content is just a worthless ploy to generate revenue, as each time a poor yob scans one, they will likely make more off the resulting page hit (Thanks Advertising!) than they will from the sale of the stamp less the cost of delivering the letter.

    I would wager that if someone has a phone which is capable of reading these "intelligent" stamps, they most likely know how to get more information than they wanted deali
  • barcode on a stamp, that makes it intelligent?
    or is the smartphone intelligent?

  • to pay for postage online, print out the stamp/code/whatever, affix it to my letter, drop it in the mail. I don't know if such a service is available in other countries, but here in the USA it's only available (AFAIK) from outfits like where you have to pay $15.99 a month before you pay for any postage. The postal service does offer Click-N-Ship, which is about what I want, but it's only available for Priority Service, not First Class or parcel service. So, what is so hard about online post
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:20AM (#33495952) Homepage Journal

    I thought they were going to be RFIDs or something like that

  • C'mon, it's only for fun, and costs bankrupt GPO very little. Could animate a Harry Potter picture? Plus, all stamp designs are approved by HM Queen, so they'll have to show her with an iPhone. Would you spoil that tableau?
  • in germany there's a mobile service that sends you a 12-digit code you can just write on the envelope using a pen, like so:

    5 0 0 7
    6 9 3 9
    5 6 1 1

    very smart
    (unfortunately more expensive than a normal stamp, wtf)

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker