Smart mailbox prototype is hyper-connected

April 10, 2017 //By Julien Happich
Smart mailbox prototype is hyper-connected
Exhibiting at IoT World's Paris edition, RF solutions distributor Giga-Concept (Avrainville, France) was showcasing a smart letter box prototype designed in cooperation with the French postal services, as well as the simplest ever connected electricity meter.

Founded in 2003 to distribute antennas and help with the design-in of antennas and wireless connectivity solutions, Giga-Concept has boosted its revenues over the last couple of years by increasing its R&D efforts, delivering bespoke solutions and operating as a consultancy house for RF design and engineering.

Doing so, the 10-employee company grew its turnover from around 3.5 million Euros a couple of years ago to about 4.5 million Euros in 2016, and co-founder and General Manager Laurent Muckensturm hopes it could reach the 5-million target within the next five years.

"This activity is taking more importance in terms of revenues than pure distribution", Muckensturm told eeNews Europe.

One of Giga-Concept's early successes was a triple-antenna design that went into about 17 million ADSL-VDSL-FTTH modems from French Internet service provider Free (the Freebox). The distributor signed an exclusive distribution agreement for France with Dutch startup Pycom who successfully launched several wireless connectivity boards through Kickstarter and Pycom's latest offering, FiPy, is a boon for Giga-Concept.

"Their solution is so small and so efficient, it beats anything available on the market, and because it is all open-source, we can get new designs running in days with total flexibility on the type of connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox and LTE-M", commented Muckensturm.

An ongoing development, the smart letter box prototype has been jointly developed with the staff from Lab Postal, a startup accelerator created in 2009 as part of the French mail service La Poste, dedicated to advancing innovative digital services and solutions. It integrates Pycom's FiPy module so the letter box becomes hyper-connected.

La Poste started deploying its own LoRa network in Paris last year and is considering expanding it across the whole French territory, opening it to partners for the creation of new services. In a first phase of the project, the idea is to secure the door lock.

Only the postmen with the right credentials will be able to access the mail via a secure Bluetooth connection with their smartphone. Next, sensors may be integrated behind the flaps, so the letter box could count letter entries and evaluate its overall loading rate, alerting the postal services when it is about to be full.

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