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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
Coliban
By Coliban (11 months ago)

What a nice idea!

Somebody has to be very creative get and realize such seemingly obvious processes.

Great work!

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (11 months ago)

Hmmmmm.....

more Hmmmmm.....

A routine XRay along the major security points would have outed the camera and wiring array enough for it to be opened for inspection, as a suspected object.

What this video shows is utter lack of security measures on postal vectors.

.

2 upvotes
White Lotus
By White Lotus (11 months ago)

Cameras get shipped all the time. If they opened and inspected every single still camera and video camera it would slow everything to a crawl.

0 upvotes
Don Camillo
By Don Camillo (Apr 25, 2013)

It would be great to repeat this test with an international air mail shipment that is almost as expensive as buying a flight ticket to the same destination (e.g. from Europe to the US).

I always wanted to know whether they serve beverages to these parcels en route :-)

2 upvotes
OnTheWeb
By OnTheWeb (Apr 22, 2013)

I bet the security screeners loved seeing this device come through.

0 upvotes
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

It looks like this was a domestic shipment here in Denmark, I don't think there is any security screening at all on domestic shipments in DK!

If it was international I think it would be different! :)

0 upvotes
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (Apr 21, 2013)

I do not see anything that makes it seem fake.

1) it was a square thin box meaning it would land on its top or bottom.
any video that was 'upside down' could be corrected.

2) that leaves 4 surfaces to have a 'view' of the suroundings.
This woud lead me to believe we saw at most 25% of the video,
allowing the chance of the other non-camera sides to have the 'view'.

3) The video is about 3 minutes long, a day has 480 '3 minute segments'.
(the shipment might have taken more than a day or two - even more 3 minut segments).
We viewed only one of these segments which was edited.
So in the can should be a great deal of footage that was discarded.

I don't see a 'fake'.

I see the work of a genius whether it is fake or not.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

Looks like it was a domestic shipment in Denmark, this is always day-to-day!

The only reason it should take more than a day is if the receiver is not at home to pick up the parcel when the postman is at the door! (But then the recipient has to pick up the parcel at the post office)

0 upvotes
1MPXL
By 1MPXL (Apr 21, 2013)

Fake or not its still an interesting video and a great idea.This is better to watch than your cat video taken from a 5D MKIII. Stop hating and start appreciating people's hard work.

7 upvotes
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (Apr 21, 2013)

fake

0 upvotes
frank2001
By frank2001 (Apr 20, 2013)

So cool!
Makes you realize the Postal service is actually a real bargain!

5 upvotes
LiSkynden
By LiSkynden (Apr 20, 2013)

Cool video and a great idea!. I always wonder where my parcel is when it takes like 4 weeks to arrive. ... its still kindo f mystery tho :P

0 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Apr 20, 2013)

That's an interesting little three minute video. Not sure why it is producing so much angst in DPReview land.

Oh wait, this is DPReview land. Silly me.

1 upvote
WayneDB
By WayneDB (Apr 20, 2013)

It is amazing how people post without thinking about what they say. All those comments down there about how it's impossible that the parcel ALWAYS faced out or had an unobstructed view...does it say anywhere he didn't edit it for content? From his original blog posting: "Actually this whole video was shot in one trip. I wanted to have all the footage from one trip only. And indeed i was lucky with the camera facing outwards. In the other video (vimeo.com/63107369), you can see a compilation of different shots made during several trips."
He tried this numerous times including International versions before settling on that one.
look at his site before posting inane garbage:

rubenvandervleuten.com/AtoB.html

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Apr 20, 2013)

If he'd sent that in NZ it would have taken about a week...!

0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Apr 19, 2013)

It's a nice way of showing the process...would this have been done in The Netherlands, the package would or be damaged or be stolen.

Next movie...from A to B by ship?

0 upvotes
starship2
By starship2 (Apr 19, 2013)

I can see that location is copenhagen denmark

1 upvote
akophoto
By akophoto (Apr 19, 2013)

Load of c**p. Clear view for the camera for the entire process??

Never buried or in the middle of a pallet and great view throughout!
Pointless.

2 upvotes
peter42y
By peter42y (Apr 20, 2013)

How do you know the camera had clear view during entire process? The video was clearly edited. The shippement took ,at least, 24 hours

5 upvotes
gadgets
By gadgets (Apr 23, 2013)

@akophoto, what an ignorant statement, you assume too much.
Forming a conclusion in contrast to what is presented based on personal opinion and not on fact is called ignorance. You have no idea how much footage was unusable/thrown out.

0 upvotes
fstops
By fstops (Apr 23, 2013)

If the view was obstructed etc, he would have deleted that from the video. Duh.

0 upvotes
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

@peter42y it probably took around or less than 24h (but not much less), it looks like a domestic shipment in Denmark and that is always day-to-day.

But yeah, editing goes a long way..!

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (Apr 19, 2013)

could also be considered terrorist motivated espionage of the interior of government facilities. Let's see what authorities think of his little stunt.

1 upvote
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Apr 19, 2013)

Who says he used one package to create this movie?

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (Apr 21, 2013)

Yeah, let's get the government in on this. I can't think of a single better way for my tax dollars to be spent.

1 upvote
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

Yeah this was shot in Denmark, so please send some tax DOLLARS so we can do some investigations... You know with the economic crisis and all... ;)

Calling a post office/distribution centre a government facility is a bit of a long shot though, if you ask me!

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (Apr 19, 2013)

I'd be careful with that kind of stunt, could easily be interpreted to be a bomb..

1 upvote
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (Apr 21, 2013)

It could just as easily be interpreted to be a piece of cheese.

You see what you want to see.

0 upvotes
MarshallG
By MarshallG (Apr 22, 2013)

It could just as easily be interpreted to be... gasp! A Camera! Who amongst us could imagine shipping a camera in the mail?

0 upvotes
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

Or it could be interpreted as a parcel going from A to B!

I don't think there is ANY kind of X-ray or anything on parcels shipped domestically here in Denmark (where this video was shot)...

0 upvotes
TLD
By TLD (Apr 19, 2013)

It seems to switch between time lapse and full video. I guess that might have been triggered by movement.

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Apr 19, 2013)

Now where's the video of the camera in the shoe ?

1 upvote
Maverick_
By Maverick_ (Apr 19, 2013)

Something is very fishy.
1) the box has 1 lens, why is that lens always pointed to the outside?
2) Why is that box always kept on the outside in crates, never inside mixed in with the others?
3) Does anyone really care how UK post office delivers a local delivery? They have been providing such videos for decades. There are dozens of TV shows with such footage since the early days.
4) If this is supposed to be a test of the mechanism, then I would say it's a success but looks like the UK PO was involved.

2 upvotes
SammyToronto
By SammyToronto (Apr 19, 2013)

I was going to say the same; it does sound fishy that the box seems to have always had an unobstructed view and was never buried in the bowels of the truck/distribution facility.

0 upvotes
robmanueb
By robmanueb (Apr 20, 2013)

With first class post, fragile stickers and this way up arrows^ maybe. Though I though it was odd myself.

1 upvote
mick232
By mick232 (Apr 20, 2013)

Do you know how often he tried it?

1 upvote
Brian Lund
By Brian Lund (Apr 29, 2013)

Except it is clearly shot in Denmark...

0 upvotes
primeshooter
By primeshooter (Apr 19, 2013)

Only problem is to the uneducated it looks like a fu**ing bomb!

1 upvote
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (Apr 21, 2013)

If you open it. Why would anyone open it?

Also there is no form of explosive inside. Just wires and a PCB. You'd have to be pretty uneducated to mistake this for a bomb.

1 upvote
PHOTOJOE55
By PHOTOJOE55 (Apr 19, 2013)

First: other than the bicycle that it was carried to the Postal office in, what did he expect to find? Second: With all the postal restrictions, is this even legal? The workers inside the postal office did not agree to be photographed. Third: What did he expect to see? A day in the life of a package! Too much time on his hands!

0 upvotes
Alberto Tanikawa
By Alberto Tanikawa (Apr 19, 2013)

If it were in the US, you'd see your package flying through the air upon arrival. I saw my package flying mid air with the UPS guy's arm extended, just before the package fell by my doorstep, 20' (>6m) away. My package however survived since it was just software. The shipping box however had its corners damaged. Nice UPS...

1 upvote
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (Apr 19, 2013)

Lets see some UFO's and Sasquatch thrown in for good measure. Otherwise I'd mark this vapid video RTS.

0 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (Apr 19, 2013)

Hmmm...maybe I should not open this package from Lithuania???? :-)
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yRlf8MhJleg/UXF0UmbN2sI/AAAAAAAAAek/WeC23vqGR9M/s1029/Lithuanian-Pkg.jpg

0 upvotes
habs 1982
By habs 1982 (Apr 19, 2013)

GoPro: Shaun White's Birth of a Board same theng but better

0 upvotes
UlrichSchiegg
By UlrichSchiegg (Apr 19, 2013)

Nice idea. Our sons liked it.

Just the way the bike seems to go in between cars when the parcel was brought to the post offcie ...

0 upvotes
habs 1982
By habs 1982 (Apr 19, 2013)

gopro did this 6 months ago with shaun whites snowboard from factory being made with a go pro to to be unpacked by white them on the hill

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Apr 19, 2013)

No security/X-ray stage...

0 upvotes
AndyHWC
By AndyHWC (Apr 19, 2013)

in the US, I think the package will be taken to FBI or CIA. It looks like a bomb to me.

3 upvotes
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (Apr 21, 2013)

Taken by whom?

0 upvotes
starwolfy
By starwolfy (Apr 19, 2013)

A friend sent me a Leica M3 from France to South Korea.
For whatever reason postmen misunderstood South Korea and sent it to South Africa.
The package went from France to Germany, then Germany to South Africa, then South Africa to Hong Kong, then HK to South Korea.
I wish my friend had put a camera in this package...but I'm not sure we would have seen much more than usual logistics stuff.

2 upvotes
Michael Berg
By Michael Berg (Apr 21, 2013)

Glad to hear it didn't accidently enter the US. A bunch of FBI agents would have destroyed it on sight, fearing it to be a bomb.

1 upvote
Simon97
By Simon97 (Apr 19, 2013)

Our carriers here in the US (UPS, FedEx) would have smashed that unpadded box to bits.

Seems interesting the camera was always pointed outward. In normal transport, it would be packed with many other parcels and a very small chance of the camera seeing the surroundings.

1 upvote
pictureAngst
By pictureAngst (Apr 19, 2013)

Yep, seems very lucky the parcel was at just the right angle for so much of the time.

I suspect this may be compilation of many attempts. That, or the guy got a job with the carrier and set it all up!

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Apr 19, 2013)

Obviously, dark or otherwise uninteresting scenes were cut out.

7 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Apr 20, 2013)

Yes, peevee1, that is a simple and accurate explanation. But how much fun is that? A more interesting theory is that the videographer invented a shrink ray, reduced himself and his camera to a tiny size and rode the package through the system - enabling the shots.

1 upvote
Lupti
By Lupti (Apr 19, 2013)

The music is really annoying but ok, it´s Vimeo, says it all.
And the idea sounds cooler than it actually is. The footage shows nothing that anyone doesn´t know, no interesting places, so nice try but boring.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 19, 2013)

Vimeo has some of the highest, most professional quality shorts and showreels you'll find anywhere on the internet. So I have no idea what the fact that it's Vimeo says about the music in this one out of the thousand of videos shown there.

6 upvotes
Sean65
By Sean65 (Apr 19, 2013)

lol. Are you some kind of YouTube snob?

5 upvotes
Jude McDowell
By Jude McDowell (Apr 20, 2013)

you could always mute the sound...

0 upvotes
beeguy956
By beeguy956 (11 months ago)

"Vimeo has some of the highest, most professional quality shorts and showreels you'll find anywhere on the internet."

That's true, which makes it all the more annoying that the site itself is so shitty and doesn't work so often. Embedded videos *never* play for me, no matter the browser or settings; I always have to go to the site, and even there they're usually slow.

0 upvotes
iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (Apr 19, 2013)

by plane now.

0 upvotes
massimogori
By massimogori (Apr 19, 2013)

Cool!!!

I'll definitely pack myself and a phone (not a camera, because they do not get anymore the attention of dpreview) and ask to be shipped somewhere.

I'll make a photo book out of that and I'll surely get free promotion here.

2 upvotes
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

Any camera you buy via postorder can be a bomb. Ever thought of that?

1 upvote
Raincheck
By Raincheck (Apr 19, 2013)

Surprisingly uninteresting for what seemed like a nice idea. Perhaps if he hired a bicycle delivery to take one from NY to LA...
Oh, I have it—The proverbial Message in a Bottle, dropped off the dock in Dublin, equipped with GPS.

2 upvotes
pictureAngst
By pictureAngst (Apr 19, 2013)

If you dropped a bottle over the dock in Dublin it would never make it to anywhere else - half the population would jump in and fight for it.

2 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Apr 19, 2013)

the package looks very suspicious (esp. to X-ray scanner).

2 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Apr 19, 2013)

Good thing he didn't try that with an international delivery, would have raised all sorts of alarms I imagine.

0 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (Apr 19, 2013)

Jazz players flashing credentials (...really !?!?...) to excommunicate sax takes, creative-apathism apostles releasing their wrath, angst ridden onlookers trying to enforce alien laws, plain cold disbelievers...Wow...!...This one really invoked you all, didn't it?
It's just a video, a successful attempt at something different.
...Chill out, will you?

6 upvotes
clochesfeuilles
By clochesfeuilles (Apr 19, 2013)

The seething hate and fear in these comments is hilarious! I'm surprised these people can stop shaking, pulling out hair, and mumbling incoherent, violent sounds long enough to type!

6 upvotes
Jude McDowell
By Jude McDowell (Apr 20, 2013)

I read all the comments here before watching the video. Guess the comments were mainly about something else; video (and music) were much better than I expected from the comments L0L.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 19, 2013)

I received a Nikon P330 last week, and based on the condition of it's shipping container, I guessing that part of it's journey was spent tumbling down two flights of stairs and flying against the wall.

5 upvotes
jadmaister2
By jadmaister2 (Apr 19, 2013)

s'ok. Making bread's about as interesting.

0 upvotes
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Apr 19, 2013)

making bread's more interesting

1 upvote
iaredatsun
By iaredatsun (Apr 19, 2013)

That kind of designer-art-process really turns me off. Glib.

Slightly more interesting is Janek Schaefer's audio piece of the same process. Made in 1995 and also a student project, I think.

http://www.audioh.com/projects/recorded_delivery.html

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Backstage
By Backstage (Apr 19, 2013)

Of minor interest. Nice idea, but not more.

1 upvote
CheetahCJ
By CheetahCJ (Apr 19, 2013)

No I think it was bit more.

4 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (Apr 19, 2013)

Doped to the gills with dramatic music and speedy time lapses - otherwise interesting on the spying front, but certainly very dull to look at.

0 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (Apr 19, 2013)

and all of a sudden...nothing happened.

1 upvote
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

Ruben lives in Eindhoven. He studied in Copenhagen for one year which was when he shot this video. to shoot the footage took half a year. He made a hole of 2* 2 mm so they could not spot it. It is based on 72 hours of film. He also was aware someone could take it as a bomb, so he put a note in it in case someone wasn't to scared to take a closer look....One of the many trips this thing was send actually went quite well so if I understand him correctly, it seems that most footage was from that one trip.

He plans to do more of such projects and wants to make a living of it. Danes be aware, because he wants to live in Copenhagen again....

7 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Apr 19, 2013)

Actually this is illegal in most countries. You can not set up devices which photograph or video people without them knowing, unless it is a public place or your own home.

6 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (Apr 19, 2013)

I believe such a law exists in the UK as well, but we still see footage from undercover journalists. Possible to get an exclusion for journalism? Although I hardly think this video counts as journalism, more just curiosity.

0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Apr 19, 2013)

The difference is that if the person doing the photography/video/audio recording is personally present, it is legal in most cases, as he is recording something he is seeing and hearing anyway. Setting up a spy camera on somebody else's premises is definitely not legal.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
walter marshall
By walter marshall (Apr 19, 2013)

Boring video, the music is terrible and should have been left out, I am a jazz musician.

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (Apr 19, 2013)

Sigh... I love Jazz but only 60-70s ones. All jazz jazz musicians I know are snobs...

1 upvote
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

I think the person playing this music are jazzmusicians too. So you think they did not like what they were playing? If they did, it seems like jazzmusicians, just like every other people have personal tast and being a jazzmusician doesn't add anything to the value of the opinion.

4 upvotes
CheetahCJ
By CheetahCJ (Apr 19, 2013)

"...I am a jazz musician."

Nobody asked if you were.

3 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 19, 2013)

Even if you enjoy Avant-Garde funk/jazz in this case the slightly frenetic music detracts slightly from the video. With many soundtracks, less is more.

I'm a saxophonist, and out-of-tune tenor sax is grating no matter whether the style of jazz is bebop, cool or avante-garde. It has nothing to do with snobbery.

0 upvotes
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

@ Marike..whatever you say, it is always personal to varying degrees. If you would put Rammstein under it, more people wouldprobably be distracted I think.
To give this attitude a name (elitist, snobbery) is not helpfull, but absolutistic remarks because of some background makes no sense at all to me. It is taste and while I watched this video I thought that it was well chosen and that was before I read any of the replies...

0 upvotes
psn
By psn (Apr 19, 2013)

Too bad there isn't a dislike button on DPR. Your post is more boring and you must not really be a musician for saying the music is terrible. I bet your playing sucks so bad you might as well give it up.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 19, 2013)

@Jorginho

The poster above made the harsh comment about the music, not me. I try to find value in all music.

And you're right, being a musician doesn't make you an expert on all styles of music. But it's sometimes hard for trained musicians to listen to performers play off key. It is never polite, however, to tell other performers their music is "terrible". But some soundtracks work well and others less so. IMHO, the soundtrack is a bit overpowering in this case but the production and concept are still excellent.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jorginho
By Jorginho (Apr 19, 2013)

Ah okey, took it wrong I guess. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course. Cheers.

0 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Apr 19, 2013)

interesting, but also not that interesting. if there were some unknown secret...but it really is just boxes moving : /

0 upvotes
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Apr 19, 2013)

i do not like jazz

0 upvotes
CheetahCJ
By CheetahCJ (Apr 19, 2013)

Nobody cares...

6 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 21, 2013)

Wonder how jazz feels about you?

2 upvotes
Spectro
By Spectro (Apr 19, 2013)

we almost got bewbs shot at 3:02

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 128
12