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The USPS Most Wonderful Ornament. Maybe just the USPS kinda cool ornament. (via USPS)

 

Better late than never...

 

The United States Postal service has recently started selling ornaments for the holidays. Called, “The Most Wonderful Ornament”, it tracks packages. Not packages shipped to you, but to the recipient of your choice. I know, we can just track packages on our smart-phones, but this is a very novel way to decorate your Christmas/winter solstice tree.

 

According to the downloadable instructions, the box that the ornament comes in has a tracking device stuck to the inside of it that is paired with the your “Most Wonderful Ornament”. So, as long as you use that box to send a gift, you will have a tracking device, of a kind inside of it. The ornament will glow one of three colors to indicate shipping status. Blue indicates it is out for delivery. Red indicates that the package has reached its destination. Green indicates that the recipient has opened it.

 

How is it powered? It plugs into a tree light string.

 

I mean this thing is kind of neat but wouldn’t you want tracking updates all year round? Also, a sphere may not be the best shape for this thing. I am thinking of a flat rectangular shaped device with a magnet in it for easy sticking to the refrigerator. Wouldn’t that be a more convenient form factor for anytime/anywhere use? Oh, and put a small display on it. Is a rectangle as festive as a sphere? Maybe I am missing the point of the whole thing.

 

I also have some questions. What happens after your parcel has been sent and received and opened? What if your cousin throws out the box with the tracker in it? What happens to the ornament now? Can you get more trackers? Can it be recycled or repurposed somehow? Can the tracker even be reused? The USPS isn’t currently giving away any technical details, like how it stays connected across time and space. Presumably via cellular networks. Or how does the tracker know when the package was opened? Maybe it has a photoresistor on-board. Or what will happen if you remove the tracker and put it inside a different box? The USPS makes no mention of any of that. Maybe in the near future some makers and tinkerers will get their hands on some of these and get them reveal their secrets. The USPS plans to refine the device. Next holiday season, prepare for a teardown!

 

 

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