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Postybell mailbox sensor conquers the tyranny of distance


April 17, 2014

The Postybell uses a GSM module to alert users to a delivery wherever they are

The Postybell uses a GSM module to alert users to a delivery wherever they are

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Last year we took a look at Postifier, a device that sits in a mailbox patiently awaiting any deliveries and alerting users on their smartphone when something arrives. Because Postifier relied on Bluetooth technology, range was limited to around 100 ft (30 m), but a new product called Postybell extends range to "any distance" by relying on GSM technology.

Aimed at those for whom a trip to the mailbox isn't just a short stroll to the end of the driveway, Postybell consists of a proximity sensor and a GSM module. When the proximity sensor detects movement in the mailbox, the GSM module calls a specified number, which can be a mobile phone or a home phone. Of course, the GSM module will require a local SIM to work, which is one of the downsides when compared to competitor devices that use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

With the use of the companion Postybell app, users can receive a warning when the Postybell battery is running low, forward alerts to different numbers or email addresses, manage multiple Postybell devices, and log mailbox activity. Currently, only an Android app has been developed, but the Postybell team is planning to develop an iOS version.

Measuring 85 x 42 x 12 mm (3.35 x 1.7 x 0.47 in) and weighing 50 g (0.9 oz), the Postybell is powered by a 400 mAh lithium polymer battery that should last for up to 2 to 3 months before requiring recharging. Recharging is via USB, with Postybell also being offered with the option of a solar battery that attaches to a mailbox, and a portable battery that can be recharged at home and attached to the Postybell when it runs low.

As well as keeping tabs on your mail deliveries, the Postybell team suggests the device could also be used to send an alert when someone enters a room or opens a drawer or cupboard they're not supposed to.

Like the Postifier, the Postybell team is hoping to get their device into production with the help of an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. But unlike the Postifier, they'll be hoping to reach their goal. Postifier fell well short of its US$30,000 goal, and the Postybell has set the same target. The minimum pledge level to put your hand up for a Postybell is $40, with an estimated shipping date of August 2014 if everything goes to plan.

If things do go to plan, future upgrades slated by the team include adding a camera to send images of new mail, and adding heat, humidity and gas sensors to extend the device's capabilities.

The team's video pitch can be viewed below.

Source: Postybell

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Dumbest idea I've seen in a while. There are already hundreds of motion detector GSM sensors in the market, designed for home alarm systems, being 100% same system.

This is exactly the same thing can be put together by amateur DIY guy using Arduino + SIM900/TC35 + PIR sensor that anyone can whack together in 5 hours. BOM about 30-40$ in single quantities, about 15-20$ manufactured with custom PCB.

If it's not 100% self sustained, forget it. It's just stupid and incovenience for the user and ends up in trash can after some recharges. I planned to build such system long time ago, but post service time is very regular so it's unnecessary. Also it's yet difficult to build it self-sustainable(in -30°c dark climates), which is a necessity.

Also the detection mechanism is retarded. Why not have IR coupling instead of PIR sensor? 10-50 times cheaper and it can also record whether the mail is picked or not thus always keeps in sync.

If this takes off, I've lost my faith in humanity. Maybe the dumbest idea I've seen in this century. Please stop supporting useless crap with poor design choices wrapped in cool marketing.


How will the unit get a signal for SMS transmission being inside a virtual "Faraday Cage" that most metallic post/mail boxes are? I get it that it will work inside plastic mail boxes.


I think the Americans are spoilt to the Nth degree. Unless you are living in a farm this should not be a problem at all. Just think of the mail-person delivering the mail ! Most people with have some kind of lighting arrangement leading up to their post box. All they need is a pair or wires with a mini micro-switch that can simply trigger an alert of their choice. I am pretty sure this will work in -40 to +60 °C environment without any problems.


Huh? I don't know how people are getting GSM SIMs for use without paying a monthly fee! I'm not going to pay a $15-$50/month cell phone bill just to know if my mail got delivered or not. Besides...They sell these wireless transmitters that do this same thing and transmit using FRS which can send a signal over 5 miles...so there's that!.

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