UK scientists redefine 'snail mail'

James Middleton

July 3, 2008

1 Min Read
UK scientists redefine 'snail mail'

Boffins at Bournemouth University have taken the ‘snail mail’ concept to the extreme, having developed a system that uses actual snails to send email.

Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, otherwise known as the bordemresearch team at Bournemouth, have set up the Real Snail Mail (RSM) website, which allows users to send an email in snail time.

Patience is a virtue in this process, as the average snail delivery time for one email is 4.695 days.

Message are added to a queue on the RSM dispatch centre server and picked up by a passing snail equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. There is another reader at the drop off point, so when a snail comes close enough to the RFID reader, it identifies the snail’s chip, and picks up the snail’s message where it continues its journey by traditional means.

The bordemresearch team has developed this project in contrast to the universally accepted idea of instant email, which is heavily relied on in the modern age. “What boredomresearch is doing here is creating a physical and biological interruption to this flow, but they hope by doing this it may also interrupt, for one small moment, our understanding of communication, allowing us to explore notions of time. It may even enable us to take time rather than lose it,” said Isley.

The project is to be officially unveiled at the SIGGRAPH IT conference in Los Angeles, California, in August.

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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