Snail mail the newest tech advance?

Posted on July 6, 2008

Next time someone mentions that they plan to send something to you via snail mail, you may need to specifically ask them whether or not you should expect it in the next few weeks or few years.

RealSnailMail, a new "slow art" project at Bournemouth University in the UK, uses three snails equipped with computer chips to "send" email. You can participate by visiting the RealSnailMail website and sending your own email. Of course, it may never actually make it to the intended recipient, but that's not the point, right? It's the fact that snails are now delivering email. What's next, homing pigeons with cell phone texting?

From the website, the snails (currently, there are three: Cecil, Austin and Muriel) each have a miniaturized electronic circuit and antenna. This gives them the ability to grab messages from the hardware, which is located inside their tank. If you plan to send a message, the moment you click "Send," the message will land on the mail server, be assigned to a snail and then await a pickup. From there, when the snail eventually make it to the drop-off point (somewhere in the tank), the message will be delivered.

I don't expect RealSnailMail to have any practical uses in the near future, but at the very least, we hope to remember one simple principle: if people aren't answering your emails, it's possible that someone dumped salt on the delivery agent.