Big OE inspires digital mailbox

A new technology, sending email postcards from special kiosks, has been developed by an Auckland firm.

A new technology, sending email postcards from special kiosks, has been developed by an Auckland firm.

IT development company is set for a nationwide rollout of its digital mailbox, which should arrive at 170 New Zealand Postshops and other places over the next few months.

The mailboxes accept customised and branded email postcards and send the images on such cards to an email address, physical address or fax machine, anywhere in the world. CEO John Donovan says he and his partner came up with the idea a couple of years ago when in India they became frustrated with its postal system. Although India had the Internet, the power failed constantly.

Their solution: write the email by hand and send it later when you have access to a computer with power and good Internet access. Essentially handwritten messaging, delivered at email speed.

The pair returned to New Zealand late in 1998 to research and develop the idea and pilot the project here. They worked with the Simpl Group software company and raised seed capital from two local businesspeople and New Zealand Post.

They created what they claim is the world's first Emailpostbox machine, which has just been trialed at Post shops, hotels and backpackers and Sky City.

Various types of machine are being developed, from kiosk to fully-integrated device.

The Emailpostbox is a compact combination of scanner and computer driven by custom-designed software.

It allows people without computers and email skills to easily write a message and send it.

Put the card in the slot, address and then send it, says Donovan.

Donovan says his company is negotiating deals overseas and is looking to extend the concept through accommodation, travel, tourist and cafe type locations globally.

Donovan also sees B2B applications, with it acting as a simple email device bridging the gap between written communications and the new digital age.

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