RealSnailMail With RFID-Chipped Snails

RealSnailMail is a performance art piece currently under development by Boredom Research. The intent is to harness the power of gastropods to deliver email messages across short distances using special waterproof RFID tags glued to their shells.


(Real Snail Mail from Boredom Research)

In the above illustration, a typical messenger snail has been chipped by using a waterproof glue to affix an RFID tag to its shell. The project will focus on a suitable snail environment (like a fish tank) with several RFID readers installed at different spots.

The project begins with a website that accepts short messages from people on the Internet. These messages are placed into a queue for snail mail delivery.

As a tagged snail first crawls into the range of a reader, the reader will pull a message from the queue, and encode a message onto the chip. The snail then oozes away and eventually comes within range of another reader; at this point, the message is read and transmitted, and another message is taken from the queue for delivery. The very slow speed of snails and flat bottomed tank should eliminate the read problems associated with RFID tag collision.

In creating this project, Boredom Research hopes to contrast the lightspeed artificial world of RFID and Internet technology with the natural world.

"...These contrasting images of a snail moving at snails pace and the promised efficiency and speed increase of RFID tagged products, being rushed to their destination, converged to become snail mail or 'real snail mail'."

Science fiction writer Frank Herbert was also fascinated with the contrast between the artificial technological creations of people and the organic world. See this article on the distrans, a method of communicating with bats over a distance in his 1965 novel Dune.

If this performance art project caught your interest, check out this real-life experiment using pigeons to deliver digital information - Digital Squab Line (DSL) Has High Bandwidth, a project to demonstrate the high data transmission speeds possible with carrier pigeon delivery in Israel.

Read more about RealSnailMail; found this one thanks to Reg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/11/2006)

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Index of related articles:

What is RFID?
How RFID Works
How is RFID used inside a living body?
What can RFID be used for?
Is RFID Technology Secure and Private?
Are There Concerns About How RFID Will Be Used? (Update)
Next-Generation Uses of RFID?
What Are Zombie RFID Tags?
Problems With RFID
RFID Information Technology Articles
Advantages of RFID Versus Barcodes
RFID Glossary
Contactless Credit Card Advantages
Contactless Credit Card Disadvantages

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