Sometimes innovation pops up in the most unexpected places. Take snail mail, for example. Postal services around the world may have taken hit after hit from the digital age, but maybe reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. After all, how many people do you know who don't still use snail mail? Now one entrepreneur has developed a clever new gizmo that brings some – gasp – innovation to the world of snail mail.

Have you ever wasted time walking to your mailbox only to find that it's empty? While the semaphore arms found on some letter boxes in the US offer one tried and tested solution, isn't it about time someone made use of all the new-fangled technology around to do something more about it?

Meet Postifier. It's a tiny device that sits inside your mailbox, and tells you whether it's worth the trip today. Pair Postifier with your smartphone (via Bluetooth Low Energy), and when you're within a range of around 100 ft, it will shoot your iPhone or Android phone a notification if you have mail.

The device lives on the inner roof of your postbox, attached with adhesive. It has a sensor that detects changes in infrared light when new mail arrives. When it detects mail, it activates the Bluetooth module and waits for the Postifier/smartphone reunion, at which point it will connect with your paired device and tell you the news. A passcode is required when setting up the phone pairing, so you won't be notified every time your neighbor receives a new magazine, bank statement, or sweepstakes letter.

Postifier creator Matt Luba told Gizmag the production version will cost around $25 and will use a button cell battery that should last for between six and nine months before it needs to be swapped out.

Postifier sounds like genius in theory, and it could very well be just as brilliant in practice. There are, however, one or two places where it could run into trouble. Theft could obviously be an issue, but the device's low cost and discreet location, coupled with the likelihood that it will mainly be used in lockable letterbox set-ups in apartment blocks takes some of the sting out of that concern. Also, the fact that the Postifier app needs to stay running in the background on your phone with Bluetooth switched will put extra pressure on the smartphone battery, but at least you trips to the letterbox in the rain won't be for nothing.

Postifier just launched on Indiegogo, with 24 days remaining to reach its goal of US$30,000 funding.

Luba runs us through how the Postifier works in the following video.

Product page: Postifier