Wednesday, 30 April 2008


The RealSnailMail project is moving at lightening speed we are just relying on the molluscs to slow things down. Over the last month we have teamed up with Tim Orman & Andrew Watson from The School of Design, Engineering and Computing at Bournemouth University to develop a prototype tank. This tank contains a small community of land snails Helix Aspersa. Each snail is equipped with a small glass capsule attached to its shell. The capsule contains a tiny chip and coil antenna that can be activated by a reader at a range of 3 cm.

We are in the process of developing two purpose built readers that provide a link between the snails and the server allowing the snail to collect and deposit packets of information.

boredomresearch aim to publicly launch the worlds first webmail service to use live snails for carrying electronic messages across physical space at Bournemouth University this Summer 2008. Once launched public can access the website at home and use it as an alternative webmail service. Email will travel at the speed of light to the server where it is entered into a queue. Here it waits until a real snail within the installation tank at Bournemouth University wonders in range of a hot spot. The hot spot is the dispatch centre in the form of a RFID reader. This reader identifies the snail from the RFID chip attached to its shell and checks to see it has not already been assigned a message to carry. If the snail is available it is assigned the message at the top of the list. It then slips away into the technological wasteland. Located at the other end of the tank is the drop off point. When, or if, the snail ever makes it here, it is identified by another reader, which then forwards the relevant message to the recipients email address; once again travelling at the speed of light. At each stage of the emails transit the sender will be updated with the messages progress and when the email finally arrives at its destination it is appended with details of its carrier and a log of its journey. The website encourages users to consider the efforts of a diminutive mollusc lugging their message across a tank and for this reason urges them to send a message of value.

“Once luxury was synonymous of precious materials and rare manufacturing now is getting its way on time issue. Time is money so what is more voluptuous than taking time to do your own things? ……A praise of “slowness” on which many cultural associations are based (ex. Slowfood in Italy). Design too is working on this topics giving substance to products and services in which time perception is basic. An example of this approach is given by the RealSnailMail project presented last October in London by Boredomresearch….” Fabrizio Pierandrei, architect and designer

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