Previous news story    Next news story

Hidden camera captures a package's journey from shipment to delivery

By dpreview staff on Apr 18, 2013 at 23:47 GMT

Dutch designer Ruben van der Vleuten was curious to know how many people and steps were involved between mailing and receiving a parcel, so he decided to find out. He installed a tiny 3MP camera in a parcel, built a timer circuit using Arduino (a simple single-board microcontroller designed to control devices) and shipped it to himself, then made a video from the resulting footage of the parcel's journey.

A photo of the setup consisting a controller circuit, battery and camera.  How the box looked from outside

Van de Vleuten carved out a 2mm diameter hole on one side of the box and placed the lens behind it from the inside. The timer circuit was set to make a 3 second video every minute and make longer videos while the box was moving. 

From A to B by Ruben van der Vleuten 

via Popular Science

Comments

Total comments: 128
12
AlanG
By AlanG (Apr 19, 2013)

So now innocent looking packages may be spying on you. Too bad it wasn't sitting on a desk where it could show people in a compromising situation. Like the NRA bribing a senator. Or a guy cheating on his wife.

2 upvotes
Ken Phillips
By Ken Phillips (Apr 19, 2013)

Nice political snipe. The NRA doesn't need to "bribe a senator" in order to have them vote for the rights guaranteed by the constitution. It scares the weak and meek, but the SOLE purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow the people to kill their government if it gets out of hand (by, say, infringing on their right to keep and bear arms.)
I'm a gun-toting liberal, BTW.

2 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (Apr 20, 2013)

Like the right for convicted felons and the mentally ill to buy guns in gun shows or over the internet. I think you'd have to bribe most people to get them to agree with that. And nobody should impinge your right to own a howitzer.

So what government official is gonna be first in your sights?

And do you really think you can outgun the US military and police? They have tanks, aircraft carriers, bombers, copters... and are well trained. Some stupid fantasy to justify crazy people owning guns and perpetuate fear to encourage more gun sales, isn't it? Do you really think this country was founded on the principle that individuals should go outside the rule of law and impose their own often demented will on duly elected officials? Are you some kind of anarchist?

I hope a box is keeping tabs on you right now.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Rupert Bottomsworth
By Rupert Bottomsworth (Apr 19, 2013)

Interesting idea but ultimately, quite a boring video.

4 upvotes
Klipsen
By Klipsen (Apr 19, 2013)

Just be glad that he chose the Danish postal service ... or the video might have been considerably longer.

4 upvotes
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

What about the Danish postal service then? I thought it was in The Netherlands but it being in Danmark explains the similarity.

Funny to see how people from different parts of the world seem to react differently. In our region it seems people are not really concerned that much about their privacy and in others parts much more.

0 upvotes
theranman
By theranman (Apr 19, 2013)

Well done!!!! Quite interesting. The music really makes it.

1 upvote
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (Apr 19, 2013)

Fantastic.

Brilliant project design, tooling, and execution.

Fantastic and my sincere thanks for showing me a hidden world.

2 upvotes
Jakob Varming
By Jakob Varming (Apr 19, 2013)

Ruben lives in Denmark. All the footage is from the Danish post central in Copenhagen.

0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (Apr 19, 2013)

Call me a skeptic, but I don't believe this for a second.

The parcel's camera always seems to have a perfectly unobstructed view. The camera is never facing down. The box is never in the middle of a stack of other boxes. The lighting is always perfect. The parcel is never in the dark. The white balance is always perfect regardless of whether the parcel is in a warehouse, in a truck (lorry), or outside in the sunshine. The direction of motion is always in the direction toward which the lens is pointing -- moving forward. And on and on...

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (Apr 19, 2013)

Plenty of video is edited out. There're a few instances where you can see that, and there would be no point in showing "nothing".

3 upvotes
James K Cheung
By James K Cheung (Apr 19, 2013)

And the camra was always able to see outside even if it would be inside of a truck or vehicle.

0 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (Apr 19, 2013)

God knows how many attempts were needed to get this footage.

0 upvotes
guillealv
By guillealv (Apr 19, 2013)

lots of post-production here... i find the idea is quite nice.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
PowerG9atBlackForest
By PowerG9atBlackForest (Apr 19, 2013)

To me it seemed that some scenes were longer than the pretended 3 seconds (normal speed).

0 upvotes
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (Apr 19, 2013)

"The timer circuit was set to make a 3 second video every minute and make longer videos while the box was moving"

1 upvote
JordanAT
By JordanAT (Apr 19, 2013)

I'm impressed with how much good, forward facing video was captured (the sorting room was great). I would think two opposite facing cameras (or the four sides) would have added some better video at times.

I'm not surprised it made it through. Lots of things look like bombs from their internals. There's just not enough at stake to make checking all packages worth while, even in the US. If it were a bomb, it wouldn't have endangered many people for most of the journey.

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Apr 19, 2013)

"If it were a bomb, it wouldn't have endangered many people for most of the journey."

But that is cold comfort for the receiver of the bomb, though.

0 upvotes
Hermann Schilt
By Hermann Schilt (Apr 19, 2013)

Great,
Good lecture for Universities who teach logistics! The real PRACTICE!!!

0 upvotes
javidog
By javidog (Apr 19, 2013)

terribly boring video and how the hell did that package get on board a transport? Scary. He must have declared what was in the package before no?

0 upvotes
iamchuen
By iamchuen (Apr 19, 2013)

I would like to do this in Hong Kong, but may I know what I should use?

0 upvotes
lap777
By lap777 (Apr 19, 2013)

Could have done the same thing with just a cell phone fixed to a side of the box, and logged g-forces, gps and all that, but still C00L!! The idea was awesome.

0 upvotes
Conrad567
By Conrad567 (Apr 19, 2013)

I wonder how much video was wasted of the camera sitting camera down, or into someones armpit?

1 upvote
xlynx9
By xlynx9 (Apr 19, 2013)

I'm sure this probably broke some laws but who cares.

3 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Apr 18, 2013)

Very creative but am I the only one that thinks the internals look like a bomb?

7 upvotes
Seagull TLR
By Seagull TLR (Apr 19, 2013)

No, you aren't the only one.

1 upvote
ingram98ab
By ingram98ab (Apr 19, 2013)

try doing THAT in the US right now

9 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Apr 19, 2013)

If this is done in the US you will see extra footage of cops opening the package...

5 upvotes
Daniel Lauring
By Daniel Lauring (Apr 19, 2013)

...and then blowing it up!!!

1 upvote
mais51
By mais51 (Apr 19, 2013)

Come on guys relax - lots of boxes have wired stuff in them, they don't waste time blowing up toy boxes. Scanning can detect explosive device if hidden inside - this box is practically empty, so it must be light. The only valid issue is privacy but the author was careful to remove any identifiable details. A cell phone is not feasible, battery could last less than 1 day and it possibly goes to sleep mode after 10 minutes !

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Apr 19, 2013)

Nobody would open it, a remote-controlled "robot" would blow it with a water cannon.

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Apr 19, 2013)

People ship electronics all the time and nobody blows them up. On x-ray this is just some kind of camera. Or scientific instrument. Or high school science project. Shippers do not have people minutely examining packages or the price of shipping would be astronomical. They can detect explosives with more sophisticated equipment that wouldn't get upset over a circuit board and some components. They're looking for the stuff that blows up.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 128
12