Tiny gadget delivers a letter’s route

An area company is using cutting-edge technology to bring snail mail into the 21st century.

The U.S. Postal Service commissioned Burlingame-based TrackingTheWorld to create the world’s first letter-tracking GPS device that will ensure letters never again are lost in the postal Bermuda Triangle. Dubbed the Letter Logger, the device stores GPS coordinates throughout its journey and stores information on its micro-SD flash memory card so the post office can keep tabs on the letter’s location.

The Letter Logger weighs just two ounces and is 3.9-by-1.5 inches. It is placed inside a regular No. 10 envelope and can operate for two weeks. The recipient of the chip can then upload the GPS data onto their computer and see the envelope’s route on Google Earth.

“This product is the easiest and most convenient tool of its kind,” said Gilbert Walz, the company’s CEO.

The gadget was released in February, when it was named gadget of the month by Popular Science magazine. The product is only a quarter-inch thick and costs $6.75 apiece.

“It’s actually the smallest device out there,” said Jude Daggett, a partner at TrackingTheWorld.

The USPS does employ a variety of tracking devices to its letters and packages and uses GPS to track vehicles, but it does not have a GPS system to track individual letters, spokesman James Wigdel said.

In addition to avoiding lost mail, the device will help the postal service, and delivery companies such as UPS and DHL, minimize the amount of time a letter is being sent, Daggett said.

The company is tackling the postal industry after it helped law enforcement, Tour de France riders and companies around theworld when it introduced the World Tracker a few years ago.

That GPS device, about the size of a pager and priced at $500, has been placed inside cars and other items in areas that have been prone to thefts. When unsuspecting thieves swipe goods containing the device, police can then track the location of the stolen items.

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office used the device last year to locate more than $30,000 worth of home appliances that thieves took out of unsold homes. The device also helped investigators make six arrests.

On a more practical level, riders of famous bicycle contests such as the Tour de France and Tour de California have worn the devices as a way of tracking their exact route during the race, Daggett said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

How it works

The small GPS device known as Letter Logger is being touted by Burlingame-based TrackingTheWorld as a solution to help the U.S. Postal Service spot bottlenecks in the system. Here’s how it works:

» Inserted into standard envelope and sent through USPS

» Motion detector in device pulls info from a satellite

» Every few minutes, envelope’s location and time recorded onto memory card in device

» Data syncs with GPS locations via Google Earth

Source: TrackingtheWorld

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