Leveraging the web to make sending and receving mail easier is something that UK-based SoPost has aimed to do with its system for linking email addresses to physical locations. Now Outbox is providing a service that collects and digitizes all physical mail and presents it as an inbox on mobile devices.
Users signing up for the service first take a photo of the key to their physical mailbox. This is then used to create a copy to allow Outbox’s ‘unpostmen’ to gain access and pick up letters, bills and promotional mail. It is then transferred to the Outbox sorting warehouse, where each piece of mail is photographed and loaded into users’ personal inbox. Using the iPad or iPhone app – or just a web browser – all mail can then be viewed. Just like an email inbox, recipients can choose to mark mail as junk and Outbox will contact the sender and stop any more mail being delivered. All mail is archived and can be viewed at any time, as well as sorted into folders. A built-in to-do list also helps users keep track of when bills are due or remind themselves to send a letter back. Customers can request their mail at any point and have it delivered to them. The service is free for the first month and costs USD 4.99 per month thereafter.
Privacy issues may be a concern for some potential customers, but Outbox encrypts and safely stores all of its digital files and employees undergo criminal background checks as well as being prohibited from viewing the content of users’ files. Are there other ways to integrate real-world items into the digital domain?