To prevent that, or at least make it easier to figure out what went wrong, European start-up LivingPackets has now unveiled the second generation of its reusable smart packaging called The Box.
First of all, The Box is pretty functional as a postage box, with a rigid outer shell that folds flat for storage, and up to 32 liters (8.5 gallons) of inside space. That space is adjustable depending on the cargo, so there's no need for bubble wrap or packing peanuts or other single-use materials.
Then things get a bit more high-tech. The Box packs a 7.8-inch e-ink screen instead of a paper label, which means the address or other details can be updated as needed via a built-in internet connection. The benefit of e-ink is that it doesn't need continuous power – it only takes a small zap to change the image when needed, so energy consumption stays minimal.
The Box is decked out with a variety of sensors that can monitor the parcel's condition at all times, and lets users check in on it live using a smartphone app.
But the first generation of The Box already had all of that. The new version builds on that base with more impressive features. For starters, the suite of sensors has been upgraded. In addition to the first-gen Box's monitoring of temperature, humidity and shocks, the new Box can also sense pressure, motion, weight and light.