Invent This – You’ve Got Mail!

I’m not a person who receives a lot of snail mail.  Snail mail, for the uninitiated, is just standard(non-electronic) mail.  In my case, I receive snail mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS).  It is always a let down going to my apartment mailbox and discovering there is nothing there.  I think there should be a way — in the age of modern wireless communications — that the USPS could alert somebody when there is actually mail in their mailbox.  It would almost be the equivalent of your favorite instant messenger program popping up and saying, “You’ve got mail!” 

Ok, I know you’re probably thinking that I’m just a lazy bum and you’re probably right.  However, I’d rather go to my mailbox knowing I have mail rather than guessing I have mail.  Also, think of those in rural areas that live miles from their mailbox or those who have post office boxes. 

Do I have you intrigued yet?  Good.  If I were the almighty postal service, here’s how I would implement my idea:

Barcode the Mailbox

Some kind of barcode would be fixated inside the mailbox.  The barcode would be necessary for the postal worker to scan the mailbox every time the worker is putting new mail into the mailbox.  Obviously, the postal worker would need some type of barcode scanner.

Alert the User

The barcode scanner would theoretically work like a cell phone with text messaging capabilities.  Once the barcode is scanned, a customer’s data is looked up.  The data could be stored on board the unit or retrieved wirelessly from a secure postal website.  Depending on the customer’s preference, the customer will either be e-mailed or text messaged immediately upon the barcode being scanned. 

Charge the User

This would be an opt-in service for the user.  I personally would find great value in being informed whenever I received new mail at my physical mailbox.  I have to drive somewhat out of my way to get to my mailbox and it’s a waste of time to check an empty mail box.  I’m not sure how much the postal service would charge a month for this service, but I would be willing to pay about $5 dollars a month for something like this.  If enough people did it, this could be a cash cow for the postal service.


So what do you think?  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Please leave a comment.

Writer and software engineer Ronald Huereca has been a developer at notable agencies like iThemes and 10up. His varied background has him working with WordPress since 2006, eventually creating his own plugin which, of course, lead to more. He spends quite a bit of his time volunteering with the WordPress project as a core and polyglot contributor. With all of his passions, writing has been the way Ronald expresses himself best. He has written both technical books as well as fiction. Some of his works include Project Mayhem, Mindefusement, and WordPress and Ajax. “You can only delay the inevitable” is his favorite quote. Ronald enjoys reading Stephen King and John Grisham. When he’s not writing, Ronald dreams of building websites filled with cats yawning, disclaimers his strong opinions, sings karaoke, and advocates for empathy surrounding mental health.

2 thoughts on “Invent This – You’ve Got Mail!”

  1. Yup, you are a lazy bum.

    Here's a thought. You receive your alert that you have mail, so you hurry down to the mailbox to pick it up. Woohoo! Junk mail! Now how do you feel? 🙂


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