DropTag Knows When a Package Has Been Handled With Care
The wireless sensor tag, developed by Cambridge Consultants, could be placed in a parcel prior to shipment and interrogated via a smartphone to learn if the contents suffered any impacts.
The DropTag consists of an accelerometer, a cell battery, a BLE chip and an antenna in a plastic housing, about the size of a silver dollar. The tag could come with an adhesive back to attach to the exterior of the cardboard box used to ship an item or to an asset or product packed inside the box. When the tag is interrogated by a Bluetooth-enabled phone, the tag transmits its own ID number along with any sensor data indicating a fall incident, as well as the time in which that incident occurred.
First, a package's intended recipient would need to download the DropTag app onto an iPhone or BLE-enabled (Bluetooth Smart Ready) Android phone. Then when the parcel arrives, that person could simply open the app in the phone to interrogate the tag. The app would display a message indicating the parcel's shipping history, such as "during transport your parcel was dropped." The individual could then open the box to check for damage before signing for it.
Cambridge Consultants has built a prototype of the system including an app, and is now seeking potential customers such as a carrier, logistic company or retailer that would like to use the technology. Purchasers of the DropTag solution would be expected to brand the app themselves, which they could offer to their own customers, and to manage the data the way they chose. Cambridge Consultants is in conversation with some logistics companies around the world, Lawrie-Fussey says.
Lawrie-Fussey expects the tag to be priced between $2 and $3. In addition, he points out, there would be other costs associated with the adoption of the tag, such as the labor to apply. However, a tag could be used multiple times by simply removing it when a parcel was delivered, he adds, thereby reducing the cost per use.
The company is also considering marketing a version of the Bluetooth-based DropTag with a temperature sensor—instead of, or in addition to, an accelerometer—so that it could track refrigerated items such as fresh produce.
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