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Parcel Sensor Knows When Your Delivery Has Been Dropped

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the you-break-it-you-buy-it dept.

Technology 145

First time accepted submitter Hamsterdan writes "If you're tired of finding that your stuff has been smashed during shipping after opening your package, this device is for you. 'Called DropTag, the gadget combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer and a memory chip. Stuck on a parcel as it leaves an e-commerce warehouse, it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences. The idea is that when the courier puts it in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before you sign for it.'"

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145 comments

Existing non-electronic variant (5, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | about a year ago | (#42826987)

Why not just use a shockwatch and stick it on the outside? That's what they're for, and having one obviously visible is certainyl more of a deterrant to mistreatment than a normal 'handle with care' sticker.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (3, Insightful)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year ago | (#42827045)

Exactly this, So much simpler and easier since you need to get the sender to apply it, and they are more likely to attack the shock stickers apposed to hacking together a wireless g-sensor. Unnecessarily high-tech solution to a low-tech problem.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (3, Funny)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year ago | (#42827071)

*attack=attach.
Ugh. Though I gave myself a funny image of a UPS man mauling a shock sticker.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year ago | (#42827207)

By including it inside the product packaging (or building it into the product itself B-) ), a manufacturer can record, not just shipping shocks in the last hop, but all shocks from the time the device was packaged at the factory. He can defend himself (and the customer) against failures (and warranty repair costs) generated by mishandling by a wholesaler, retailer, or what-have-you, not just the final shipper.

The device would report significant events with time stamps, so the final shipper wouldn't get blamed for mishandling further up the chain.

With integrated accelerometers and the like, the silicon-with-MEMS product would be a rather tiny chip attached to a battery - which (with modern battery tech) could power it for the shelf life of the product's design. Given Moore's law the prices for the electronic versions might come out lower than those of the mechanical version.

Main downside might be that the battery might make the device unsuited for air freight. B-)

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827435)

This Popular Mechanics article [popularmechanics.com] definitely proves this point. Its not just for the customer, but probably of more use for the manufacturer to do QA as far as who they have ship their product. Ditto for the shipping companies themselves. Stuff leaves factory unbroken and gets to warehouses A and B ok, but somewhere between shipping hub C and D... Uh oh! Also if keeping tabs on impacts and such over time, it would even allow the shipping company to find out if some particular employee is dinging their packages by keeping tabs on shift hours and such.

It's nice to have it, but the recipient isn't the only customer of this particular tracking service. It would only make sense if the cell phone app to read the tag also reports all the data back home to a database where this info can be of greater use. Also not to mention everyone going through a similar supply line benefits despite not having these tags, provided problems in shipping are corrected promptly.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827861)

So put it on a USB device and incorporate it into the product registration process. I'm betting the package recipient would like know why the box is all beat up when it was delivered. "Insert USB to see how well your product was handled by United Parcel Smashers".

Hell, the CIA may even fund the whole thing for your company just as long as you're willing to ship your products internationally so they can get FLAME or whatever the latest variant of the Iranian centrifuge killing software deployed.

Sounds like a WIN WIN to me.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#42829535)

it would even allow the shipping company to find out if some particular employee is dinging their packages

Why do you think the shipping company cares? The security cameras on our loading dock recorded a UPS driver tossing boxes out of the back of his truck, and dropping about eight feet onto concrete. The contents were severely damaged. When we showed the video to a UPS manager, the driver was just shifted to a different route. Apparently they can't just fire unionized employees, especially Teamsters.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827809)

Thats funny your watches get on all flights.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

LoztInSpace (593234) | about a year ago | (#42828699)

How is this easier than assuming that everyone who takes delivery of said package just rejects it at the acceptance stage if the shock detector has gone off? No need for anything fancy like USBs/wireless data connections to databases etc (see below). "It's broken - I don't sign for it". Done.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

rok3 (1133003) | about a year ago | (#42829077)

FFS... Situation A) Blame automatically applied to manufacturer : They send out another unit and sell the 'defective' unit as a refirb or B) They have the data from 'smart' sensor bitch and moan with shipper's lawyers over who is responsible for the damaged product after spending time review logs. The only people who win with situation B) are the Goddamn lawyers. This just seems like an instance of a coming up with a solution that costs more than the initial problem.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#42829143)

But that's so low tech for slashdot. It's much better to use a lot of toxic chemicals to create non recyclable components that make use of technology that most people don't have access to. Besides, mom is going to sign for the package anyway, I can't really make it up the basement stairs anymore.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827065)

the outside ones can easily be replaced by a fresh one by an unscrupulous shipper

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year ago | (#42827175)

That's fraudulent and potentially lawsuit worthy. Ain't gunna happen over a regular package.

Maybe a bigger problem is shockwatch patches can cost $3 each. It makes sense for expensive packages,but not your $10 amazon.com order with free shipping.

Though to be fair, now figure out what a bluetooth dongle is going to cost.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#42827327)

Maybe a bigger problem is shockwatch patches can cost $3 each. It makes sense for expensive packages,but not your $10 amazon.com order with free shipping.

Though to be fair, now figure out what a bluetooth dongle is going to cost.

From the article, the device is $2. BUT...they don't include the "coin battery" that it runs on...I'm guessing a 2032 or 2025, which will cost close to as much as the rest of the device. I do wonder how they get the cost of the unit that low, though...

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#42827443)

the battery is a few pennies.

the out-of-date ones from china (ie, all of them from china) are good enough for a week's worth of travel time or more.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#42829993)

In my area, I've often seen Chinese LR44 alkaline button cells priced around US$3+tax for a package of six, three of which are stored in a combination laser/flashlight/key-chain/battery-tote.

While on the topic of LR44s, here's a pertinent article regarding batteries for users of cheap digital calipers (e.g., General, Pittsburgh):

Buying Button Cells for Digital Calipers [truetex.com]

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2)

1729 (581437) | about a year ago | (#42827499)

From the article, the device is $2. BUT...they don't include the "coin battery" that it runs on...I'm guessing a 2032 or 2025, which will cost close to as much as the rest of the device. I do wonder how they get the cost of the unit that low, though...

Sure, if you're buying them one-at-a-time at Target, but you can get 50 CR2032 batteries for $10 on Amazon. Buying in bulk, they'd be even cheaper. (I go through a lot of button batteries, mostly LR44s, keeping my kids' toys running.)

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42827655)

Yes, I bought about 150 of them once for about $60. Gave them to friends, still have a bunch left. They're Chinese but seem to have the same capacity / quality as the branded versions. Bought them from Mouser or Digi-Key, I think...

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#42827963)

BUT...they don't include the "coin battery" that it runs on...I'm guessing a 2032 or 2025, which will cost close to as much as the rest of the device.

They don't buy them individually from the local 7/11 . More like under 10c each in bulk from Alibaba .

then install shockwatch on the inside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827369)

inside of the package. Same idea with the bluetooth, no? Catch the negligent bastard behind his back?

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42828933)

Maybe a bigger problem is shockwatch patches can cost $3 each. It makes sense for expensive packages,but not your $10 amazon.com order with free shipping.

You don't usually need a shockwatch patch for your $10 amazon.com order. And for the times you do, $3 is a small price to pay.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42829209)

Don't be so sure. I once got back a 1U server that I shipped. The back was smashed into a nice V shape in a way that only a forklift could have accomplished. The verdict (drum roll please)....inadequate packing!

In another case, the recipient watched as the delivery guy (different shipping company) dropped the package causing it to roll down 4 flights of stairs. Again, the claim was inadequate packaging. They denied the package drop.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year ago | (#42829377)

have you ever taken a sticker off a cardboard box without taking some of the cardboard/paper with it?

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about a year ago | (#42827137)

Exactly what I thought of. This is a solution in search of a problem, one which ShockWatch already solved. (No, I don't work for ShockWatch, and I don't even know if my employer uses them. I've never seen them in our warehouse.)

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (5, Funny)

markxz (669696) | about a year ago | (#42827541)

Shockwatch labels that release sarin (or equivelent) gas when broken would incentivise good handling of the item.

Otherwise couriers will continue to smash the items up.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42829033)

Shockwatch labels that release sarin (or equivelent) gas when broken would incentivise good handling of the item.

No need to kill anyone. Some thioacetone [corante.com] would work just as well.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42829251)

Sounds similar to Captan. My father used to install pipelines in Alberta and they used it to test for leaks. The farmers could smell that stuff from a mile away (literally). If you splashed it on your clothes, you BURN them!

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (3, Insightful)

hduff (570443) | about a year ago | (#42827177)

Why not just use a shockwatch and stick it on the outside?

If they really worked reliably, they would be in wider use. I would gladly pay the small premium for these things as would many people.

But I suspect that it would not ameliorate the problem since damage and returns are built into the cost of doing business and the shippers have no incentive to correct the problem any moer than they have..

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#42827491)

But I suspect that it would not ameliorate the problem since damage and returns are built into the cost of doing business and the shippers have no incentive to correct the problem any moer than they have..

The problem is that the guys loading the trucks can only go so fast.
BUT, since time is money, the shippers run the sorting machines at highspeed, and the loaders are forced to treat your package like a football in order to meet their quotas and keep boxes from piling up.

So it isn't that the damages and returns are built into the cost of doing business, it's that (for the shipper) the damages and returns cost less than the profits from destroying every N-th package.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828675)

No, the problem is companies like UPS will hire any scumbag off of the street. I had a friend who was a package handler for UPS in Oakland he told me about all of the ex-cons, druggies and thugs they had tossing packages around. He said that if the package had "Fragile" or "Handle with Care" printed on it, they would purposely damage it. They hire people who don't give a fuck about their own lives, let alone a job. No labels or shock sensors are going to stop them from destroying your packages.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (4, Informative)

Waccoon (1186667) | about a year ago | (#42829729)

I work for a medical distributor. Our standards for shipping quality are supposed to be much higher than companies like UPS. However, the quality of our operation suffers tremendously from the massive volume we are expected to ship every day.

All of our packages travel on a conveyor belt system without being placed in a tote. Smaller, expensive items are repacked into larger boxes, but these then also go directly on to the belt. Needless to say, belt jams and other mishaps result in considerable damage to product, ranging from scrapes, shavings, and rips (which go to the customer) to holes being punched into the sides (which may be inspected and repacked into other boxes before being shipped, but are usually just taped). So long as the customers accept delivery, that's the quality we continue to deliver. Despite damages and returns processing, we make a decent profit, so the only thing that matters is that line A is larger than line B.

I was surprised to see what the inside of the NewEgg warehouse looks like. All product goes down the conveyor belt in plastic totes, preventing damage. It puts our filthy operation to shame, and I'd bet those $300 video cards aren't much more expensive than the medical devices we deliver. If damages occur regularly, the blame should go to penny-pinching management for providing such a destructive work environment, not the employees.

BTW, I also worked for the USPS in one of their central hubs during the holiday season. Their operation didn't involve a conveyor belt, but it did involve literally throwing boxes into large cardboard tubs sitting on pallets, which were then driven into delivery trucks. The speed we were expected to maintain was the problem, not minimum wage druggies or thugs.

I can't comment on UPS. I've never worked for them, and from what I hear, I don't want to because their operation is even more hectic than ours.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#42827235)

Or how about a label that just says "Yes, this packaged was dropped" applied to every package prior to delivery?

Based on my experience, that would have near-perfect accuracy. Also it's cheaper than an electronic solution.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (5, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#42827315)

this is actually how UPS, the shipping company got its name.

it was a phonetic spelling mistake: they meant to call the company "oops!".

(the more you know...)

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827957)

I thought UPS stood for United Package Smashers.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (4, Interesting)

Spamalope (91802) | about a year ago | (#42828255)

I thought UPS stood for United Package Smashers.

I know they offer throw it at the ground shipping. We shipped about a dozen computers and at least half literally had the metal case warped. One had a fork lift tine driven through the box. One of our branch employees saw the UPS delivery driver throwing packages out of the truck onto the concrete. In all cases (include the fork-lift smashed one) UPS denied insurance claims because we didn't pack it well enough.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | about a year ago | (#42828797)

Between seeing a FedEx guy tossing one smallish Dell-labeled box after another on to the ground from hip height as he sorted them in his truck, and watching baggage handlers at the airport tossing bags a dozen feet on to a pile, I now just assume anyone paid to move my things around is going to beat the living fuck out of them, and they probably don't even care if anyone sees it.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42829311)

I know they offer throw it at the ground shipping. We shipped about a dozen computers and at least half literally had the metal case warped. One had a fork lift tine driven through the box. One of our branch employees saw the UPS delivery driver throwing packages out of the truck onto the concrete. In all cases (include the fork-lift smashed one) UPS denied insurance claims because we didn't pack it well enough.

Yeah, the only real suggestion I've seen for packaging is that it must survive repeated 8 foot falls. Certainly I've not seen "must survive forklift stabbings" on the packaging guide. Though given how many times I've heard it (and probably seen it on various unboxings), makes you wonder if it's done on purpose or UPS is also a forklift driver training ground, except instead of practice pallets, they use real packages in real shipments.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827981)

As someone who knows the UPS system way, way too well. I can say with certainty that the people who work there always are regretful and say "oops!" just before drop[kick]ing your package into a trailer or over your fence.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42829609)

Or just use a shipping company that doesn't play football with your precious packages? I assume you must have them in the US as well? Their usual customers are people who have to ship valuable paintings, art items, really valuable electronic measurement devices etc. If you are actually sending something that is valuable do not use the usuall mass courier services. They'll just smash it for you and laugh at your face. Yes, getting your packages handled properly costs more. Yes, it's worth it in many cases. You can also get your packages shipped in some specific humidity if you want.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#42827305)

man, that takes me back. I first saw those SW indicators on DEC disk packs (rp06, rm05, the old school vax/vms disk platters on a spindle). fun times.

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827329)

Yeah but this new way has an App! Surely that makes it better, no?

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (2)

Ant2 (252143) | about a year ago | (#42828347)

I ordered a box of 10 of these, but they were all activated by the time they arrived. Crap, now what?

Re:Existing non-electronic variant (1)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | about a year ago | (#42828409)

Couriers have figured out that the best way of dealing with a Shockwatch is to rip the filament off the box.

Sooo (4, Interesting)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year ago | (#42827013)

Many of the things I have ordered lately have been so grossly over packaged that you could nearly smash the entire package before actually hurting the contents (I'm looking at you Amazon). I can see how this would be really useful for ordering overly fragile things, but if it costs more than shipping insurance is it really going to be worth it?

Re:Sooo (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#42827133)

Yes, because people want what they ordered within a few days of ordering it. They do not want to make insurance claims even if they eventually get made whole.

So getting it to the customer right the first time has value.

Re:Sooo (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year ago | (#42827367)

I ordered a MicroSD card and a mini Wireless N adapter from TigerDirect and the box was huge and full of several feet of brown paper packaging it's ridiculous. Like, 10 feet of paper. Same thing when I ordered speakers from Amazon. The warehouse is only a couple of towns away and the box was 3-4 times bigger than the item and full of paper.

On the opposite side of it I received an HDD from eBay which only had one layer of bubble wrap and an envelope. Worked fine, but the contrast was amusing.

Re:Sooo (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42827429)

YOU paid for shipping. Returns cost them money. Think about that for about 6 seconds and the world will make more sense to you.

Re:Sooo (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#42827457)

It costs money to stock different sizes of boxes and to pick the right one the first time. Or pick the wrong one the first time, I mean. Repacking takes time. Their automated warehouse may also not be set up for tiny boxes ...

While the ebay shipper is usually doing things on a small scale by hand to start with.

Re:Sooo (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#42828087)

Not to mention figuring out shipping costs in the first place. The shipper charges you based on the size of the box and the weight of the box. If you don't know the size of the box, you can't give an accurate shipping amount. So you oversize all your boxes to make sure you don't lose money on the shipping.

That was me (2)

maxbash (1350115) | about a year ago | (#42828321)

Sorry about that, it was the best packaging I could find at the moment and I was a little peeved that the drive auctioned for so little.

Re:Sooo (1)

The1stImmortal (1990110) | about a year ago | (#42829301)

Our distributor for most stuff at work (one of the big guys in AU) has the irritating tendency to send an oversized box... with no packing material.

For example, I have literally opened boxes with a single sheet of paper in them - that are on the order of a cubic metre.

Not so big a deal for paper of course (just bewildering) but when you get components shipped the same way (often with one, completely insufficient, plastic airbag pack in the box too, rattling around with the part) it makes you wonder what they guys in the warehouse are thinking, and whether their management is happy with what that must be costing in unnecessary shipping and return costs (we pay the same in shipping for a given item regardless of the size of the box it was packed in, but if the boxes are oversized, then less fit on a truck and that has to affect the pricing or contract with their logistics company)

Re:Sooo (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42829321)

For many shipping companies in the US they charge you by weight, not size, so they use very light, bulky shipping material and lots of it.

Re:Sooo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828101)

I'm told Amazon's overpackaging of small things is basically a way to prevent warehouse employees from covertly slipping your new SD card order into their pocket, as an 8x8x2 box doesn't fit well in those pockets.

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828103)

Amazon and Walmart's packing abilities has a lot to be desired. Amazon often uses paper for padding and only to fill empty space and not to pack a item so that is cushioned on all sides. Walmart, just ships items to people how they are in the store, no extra box or padding and hopes that the maker of the item packed it well enough ( most items were not packaged in a way that was designed for shipping UPS, FedEx, or USPS ). FedEx and UPS claim that an item needs to have at least 2 inches of padding all around, paper is not valid padding, and that if you drop a item from 5 feet in the area it should land without damage.

its called efficiency (4, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#42828143)

if you ever have a job where you have to sling around heavy rectangular objects all day, you will eventually realize that 'over packaging' is really the solution to most of the problems in the cycle.

it helps machines that auto-sort work faster and better

it helps people who handle stuff work faster

it helps the seller

it helps the buyer

if the industry had to 'coddle' every package it would slow down the entire line - from the machinery based roller setups to the people packing stuff in trucks to the people leaving stuff at your door.

it would almost make more sense for a shipping company to auto-matically 'repack' flimsily packaged items with the identical address and only ship them after doing so, just to avoid the hassle of people who dont understand how the system works.

Re:its called efficiency (3, Informative)

Leuf (918654) | about a year ago | (#42828915)

You can't really tell if something has been adequately packed unless you either open it or it already shows damage (lack of packing material allows the box to crush). UPS and Fedex would be more than happy to slap you with a reboxing fee* if they could.

*plus fuel surcharge on the fee, because everything gets a fuel surcharge. This notice about the fuel surcharge gets a fuel surcharge.

Re:Sooo (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a year ago | (#42829843)

When I order at amazon.co.uk the order is packed in cardboard. A simple box filled to the brim with what I ordered (usually books and blu-rays) if they could. If they couldn't it's filled with some brown paper (probably recycled).
Paper and cardboard have very good recycle processes (although the fibers tend to shorten during recycling).
I wouldn't call it over packaging, I call it perfect packaging.
But then again, I haven't had a package that was dented. Not a scratch on the outside box, and I get a lot of boxes. Amazon knows they are sending to the Netherlands, so maybe they know the packages get treated properly here.

These already exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827017)

These things already exist. Tip'n'tells, shockwatch, and drop'n'tell. Damage indicators [uline.com]

The only thing new about this is it's electronic

Re:These already exist (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#42827969)

These things already exist. Tip'n'tells, shockwatch, and drop'n'tell. Damage indicators [uline.com]

Yep they not only already exist, but have for a long time.

I've seen a lot of those used on crates that were used to transport
expensive electronics and specialized computers to the job site.

Re:These already exist (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year ago | (#42828093)

The problem is that the people gently handling your packages can see them too. If a shockwatch or tip-n-tell trips, they just rip them off and claim it didn't have one. A bluetooth transmitter isn't visible.

Over-complicating things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827027)

Or you could just use a far less expensive, simpler ShockWatch [shockwatch.com] sticker.

For business's? (1)

t3hfr3ak (2429946) | about a year ago | (#42827039)

If customer's are willing to pay a bit more for this feature, would it not be viable for online retailers? Especially those of the technology scale...

Re:For business's? (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | about a year ago | (#42827131)

If people's are willing to pay extra for apostrophe's, you will make fortune's.

Re:For business's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827471)

to bad no one will pay for being a douche, professor...

Re:For business's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827791)

That's OK, we'll never run out of douches. They do it for nothing.

g-forces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827075)

Please stop using the term g-force. It's a force coming from hitting something else. This force causes uneven acceleration which can be measured in multiples of gravity.

Re:g-forces? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#42827749)

"acceleration which can be measured in multiples of gravity."
and gravity is a force, not a unit of force. The "acceleration due to gravity" is a local variable. It is different in different locations - just ask the crew of the ISS

Re:g-forces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827819)

While you're at it, be sure and tell the airframe manufacturers they are designing for accelerative forces, not g-forces. And tell the air force and the navy those suits they outfit fighter pilots with are acceleration-suits, not g-suits. Or you could just can the language OCD; you'll probably feel better for it.

Re:g-forces? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42828487)

Please stop using the term g-force.

Please stop using idiotic requests as a segway into self serving displays of technical prowess.

And for people who... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#42827083)

don't have Bluetooth-enabled smart phones?

Re:And for people who... (3, Funny)

Slugster (635830) | about a year ago | (#42827139)

If you don't have a Bluetooth phone, you can order one online. Just don't accept the package unless you make sure they didn't ........ well f*ck.

Can be done mechanically, cheaper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827165)

This is a good idea, but there are simpler, and probably cheaper, external mechanical plastic tags that record shock (at least in one plane, so you'd
need two of them...) above a threshold, and are visible at the time you receive the package. Don't know how much they cost, but it
can't be much more than a buck or two...

Re:Can be done mechanically, cheaper... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#42827947)

Shockwatch labels are between $1 and $5 depending on type and where you buy them.

No Way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827189)

I don't want my fine china opened by a bomb squad.

Does this mean that Schrödinger... (5, Funny)

patmandu (247443) | about a year ago | (#42827283)

...can finally know if he should sign for that mail-order cat?

Re:Does this mean that Schrödinger... (1)

muphin (842524) | about a year ago | (#42827743)

but how will you know if the cat is dead or alive, without looking in the box.... Schrodinger had the same issue

Re:Does this mean that Schrödinger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828307)

Well... Imagine this:

The ordered cat, after being deprived of food and water during transportation, travelling in complete darkness, contrained to the minimal volume for it to fit inside, with its fur impregnated with its own fetid mixed paste of urine and feces...

And that while being subjected to mechanical/thermal/other abuse...

If the cat did not die all its 9 lives and some few more it got on credit... You sure don't want to open that box.

Who will recycle the sensors? (5, Insightful)

rminsk (831757) | about a year ago | (#42827343)

Who will recycle the sensors? All we need is more electronics and batteries ending up in the landfill.

Re:Who will recycle the sensors? (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about a year ago | (#42827835)

This is an excellent point. If I had mod points, they would be yours.

I keep trying to imagine a situation in which these things could be bulk-recycled but don't know enough about the materials/science.

Re:Who will recycle the sensors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828963)

Who will recycle the sensors? All we need is more electronics and batteries ending up in the landfill.

Waste Management.

Doesn't matter, at best they refund the sender (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#42827359)

Doesn't matter, at best they refund the sender and you have to hope the broken bits are insured - you're not getting anything from the shipper no matter how it happened.
Been there, done that, had an obvious fork tyne hole through a box containing a server with a bent chassis. In the face of that evidence FedEx refunded the shipping to the guys that sent the server but I was left with a bent server. It still ran for a couple of years but it's resale value was zero.

assume the worst (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827481)

UPS says that they might drop your package from a height of three feet onto a concrete floor, on a corner.

You are supposed to secure the contents so that they can withstand this without damage.

I bet a lot of people are going to find that the package was in fact not mishandled, but inadequately packaged.

Don't get me started about newegg and how they package their drives

Re:assume the worst (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827843)

I think the idea is they package it for a 3 foot fall and this thing tattles if the box undergoes a 6 or 12 foot fall or a collision of the truck.

Assume it will be (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827689)

I worked loading and unloading parcels on a plane years back. If it isn't dropped it will be thrown (or passed), squished, kicked and cushion heavier items guaranteed. Marking fragile means nothing as every package is marked that way. If those involved in the transportation of your package, treated every package as fragile our parcel delivery system would slow to a crawl. These guys deal with literally tens of thousands of packages daily. Most companies have figured this out and package products to absorb a few bumps and bruises. If people actually used this product they would never accept a package again.

Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42827757)

How much does the sensor cost and would it be less expensive to just use better packing materials to absorb the impacts?

What's old is new again? (2)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year ago | (#42827763)

I'm not sure why they are talking as if this is a new thing.

I remember receiving a large box at work ten years ago; it was something very expensive, I believe from IBM. There was an electronic shock sensor in the package, with a clock and everything that would log the time of any excessive shock or tipping.

This was between 2001 and 2003. In fact I STILL HAVE the thing, it's in a desk drawer somewhere at work.

So yeah, nothing new to see here, move along.

Re:What's old is new again? (1)

BillX (307153) | about a year ago | (#42829867)

Agreed, I was under the impression many such systems existed for shipment monitoring. Most include temperature in addition to shock logging, e.g. for transporting fruits and other perishables ("cold-chain certification"). Heck, I was on a team that designed such a device for the Tomahawk missile canisters back in the day, 10 years' logging of shocks, temperature, humidity, pressure (the canisters were filled with an inert gas) and fluid intrusion. The only thing missing was an RF reader (RF doesn't travel well thru a missile canister, and there are concerns with RF devices operating near ordnance anyhow) - it was read out by a handheld IR receiver. I'm curious what makes this different from the existing devices, except for the specific choice of BLE as the readout mechanism (it's a fairly new protocol).

Re:What's old is new again? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42830007)

well.. the new angle is the bluetooth angle.. so you don't sign off on the package if it's been mishandled.

not sure how it'll help with you not getting sticked at least for the price of shipping though.

Smart toillet knows (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828293)

When your delivery has been dropped

And what is your threshold for damage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42828669)

These things (shock/impact recorders) already exist and aren't all that expensive in comparison to truly high value products. A few things to bear in mind..
1) What shock level should you trip at? 10g? 100g? "delicate optical equipment" often has a 10g rating which is quite gentle. Most electronics can see 50-100g without too much trouble. (Compare: drop something 1 meter, and if it takes 1cm to stop, that's 100g. More likely, it takes 1mm to stop (due to case deformation) and that's 1000g). A "shockwatch" set to 50g on the outside of the box is almost useless.
I'll bet most people have NO idea just how sensitive the thing they are shipping is. The real purpose of a shockwatch (or a logger) is to know "did it break".

2) You should be packaging things to tolerate "normal shipping" which is pretty rough. You use the shock sensor (on the inside, attached to the thing being protected) to tell you whether your packing material failed, or there was some unusual event, in which case inspection and/or test is called for. Most shipping companies go by a "visible damage to the packaging" sort of standard. They do NOT care what your packaging is, or whether you have enough.. that's your problem.

3) Do you attach the sensor to the outside (which sees high loads, aforementioned 1000g) or to the thing your protecting? As noted above, attaching to the outside is useless in a practical sense. On the inside it actually tells you something.

4) packaging design is hard. It's not just a matter of "put 6" of foam around it". How dense is the foam, how much does your thing weigh, etc. You want the foam to compress under the load of the box accelerating/decelerating, but not bottom out. Ideally, it just fully compresses as you hit the peak load:

5) Peak shock often isn't the important thing. Often it's the integrated load over time that's important. In the shock world, you talk about a Mass Acceleration Curve...

6) A logger is a great thing for *testing* your packaging. You make up a structural mass model that is like whatever you are shipping, attach your accelerometers to it, package it up, then ship it. Then, look at the log when you get it to see what kinds of loads it actually saw.

BTW, an iPhone makes a lousy shock logger.. power consumption is high, and max g is ridiculously low (a few g).

What do they do though? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#42829139)

My UPS guy is super nice so if a package looks like it went through a war, he says "That looks damaged. You might want to open it and check it out before signing for it." So if it's demolished, and I don't sign for it, then what? My senders don't insure stuff. I don't think UPS even offers insurance. What do they actually do? Just drive off with my package?
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