How This Smart Mailbox Can Make a Home More Visible and Secure at the Same Time

The ADDSMART project started with two goals: Clearly marking addresses for autonomous vehicles and reducing the energy and data storage costs of home surveillance systems.

NEW YORK CITY – A self-locking mailbox technology that can potentially flag down delivery drones and intelligently screen your driveway was unveiled at the annual IEEE Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics, and Mobile Communication Conference in New York City.

Columbus State University computer scientist Lydia Ray presented the project, called ADDSMART, after she was inspired by an Amazon ad for drone deliveries. Since her mail still arrives at the wrong address, she wondered how a drone would be able to accurately make deliveries.

The prototype she created uses radio-frequency identification and consists of two components. The first controls a high-frequency 13.56-MHz RFID reader, USB camera, passive-infrared motion sensor, solenoid lock, and an onboard Wi-Fi module. The second is an RFID tag. 

Ray says the delivery process could become relatively easy with an RFID tag on a home’s mailbox and an RFID reader on a drone or car. The drone would use GPS to navigate to an address and then confirm the address is correct by checking the RFID tag on the mailbox.

After Ray attached the RFID reader to the mailbox, she realized it could be used for a second purpose: security.

A system equipped with an RFID reader could store a list of “safe” RFID tags whose possessors would be able to pass by a home or open the mailbox unimpeded. 

Also, instead of a home surveillance system that’s constantly monitoring, video cameras could save energy by starting to record only when an unrecognized vehicle or person passes the mailbox.

During testing, the RFID successfully unlocked the mailbox when a “safe” RFID tag was in range. However, the passive-infrared motion sensor used failed. Ray said using a more expensive sensor could help.

A “smart mailbox” is not something seen very often, but it’s only a matter of time until it’s the latest trend in smart home technology.

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Steven A. Karantzoulidis is the Web Editor for Security Sales & Integration. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Communication and has a background in Film, A/V and Social Media.

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