Augmented Reality Goes Postal

Is Augmented Reality going mainstream? Now instead of having to wait in line at the US Post Office to see which Priority Mail Flat Rate Box you need, you can figure it out ahead of time, at home or work with a printed AR tag, your webcam and computer.

I don’t live in the US right now, so will someone please tell me: what’s the advantage of doing this, other than because it’s cool?

Here’s the official “how to” video:

I tried leaving a comment on the USPS’ blog, but it kept thinking I was a bot. Hmmmm.



  • If the video is true (especially the last part where you put what you send in the virtual box) it is really useful to check if what you want to ship fits in the box.

    Not sure how it works in the US but if you stand in a large queue, then get aften an hour to the clerk who asks “box A3, ZSER56 or AQLOK675”? and you says “well, ya know, the one which kinda is good enought for THAT”.
    And then you get ZSER56 but then realize there is a thingie which is too long and you need the ZTSKUH883a instead.
    And the queue is longer now ’cause it is 11:30 on Saturday.

  • What confused me is that from the official website, you can get the boxes for free. So when do you pay for your flat rate shipping? You still have to wait in line for that.

    It would make more sense if you could buy the boxes conveniently at, let’s say, Target or 7-Eleven, after you figured out which box you need. And then you don’t have to stand in line at the US Post Office but can just drop off your box at a no-line counter.

    I’m hoping someone from the US who has more information about the linked logistics will come forward and shed light on the story. Because if it does in fact prevent you from waiting in line, that’s great! But if it’s just a gimmick to get people talking about the new Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, I’d say they’re successful in that the word is out, but have missed out on a life-improving opportunity.

  • Jovan

    From what I understood…. you can order the boxes before (on line) and using that tool to chose the one that fit the package.
    You pay for the flat rate shipping when you pay the stamp that you can get and print online.

    Just guesses…

  • the UPS is offering customer who buy these boxes a flat rate that is independent of where in the US they ship…. the boxes come in different sizes (hence the 3d connection)… the box is priced based on its size…. then you can ship anywhere….

    this is very convenient as companies now can have certainty on their shipping costs…. previously, your shipping costs were a functon of where you were sending from/to… this offerng from UPS eliminates the uncertainty in shipping costs…. the 3d tool helps their customers determine what size box they need to buy

  • Interesting, thanks. I’m really pleased to see a useful AR application.

    Does anyone have another AR story that fits the useful category?

  • A very useful one is here:

    Why useful? Well, it made my children stay still and occupied for at least 5 minutes. Hey, you know how it is in life – 5 min of silence with two small kids is, as the credit card ad says, priceless.

  • That’s cool Wojtek. I’ll have to try it with mine as well. Certainly useful that it kept your kids occupied, but I guess their goal’s to promote clean energy.

    Someone contacted me on Twitter with an extremely practical AR application from the Netherlands. I’m talking coooooool! Imagine having a kind of Superman X-Ray Vision when you’re browsing around town? You’d see information linked to the architecture around you. For example, as you look at houses and buildings, when one’s for sale, your mobile phone will whip out some real-estate information on that spot for you. You get listing price, square footage and more. Personally, this is one of the best AR aps I’ve seen. Check it out, video and all.

    Yesterday I also received a flyer for a local interactive museum called Futurascope. The brochure was tooting an AR exhibit where kids can see and interact with animals of the future. AR stikes again!

    I think we can safely say that AR is hitting the mainstream fast.

    Any other cool examples?

    Best, Kate