SF Technotes

A Kickstarter Solution for Porch Piracy

By Michael Castelluccio
November 20, 2017
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As sure as Cyber Monday follows Black Friday, YouTube aficionados will soon have a selection of new home-security videos showing porch pirates snagging boxes from customers’ front steps or delivery guys sending the box that holds someone’s new digital camera bouncing across the lawn. But there’s a solution on the way in the form of a Kickstarter project called BoxLock.

 

It’s a hefty padlock with a built-in scanner that will open when it reads the barcode on a home package delivery. The carrier then opens the unlocked box on your porch, deposits your package, and an alert is sent to the app on your phone informing you that the delivery is there for you when you get home. The carrier’s network also is notified, and your box is closed and the lock is snapped shut.

 

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All photos: BoxLock, Inc.

 

 

 

The BoxLock, Inc. team points out on its Kickstarter page that 11 million packages are stolen every year, and there are “seasons” for increased activity, including the weeks following Thanksgiving to year’s end. The BoxLock system is designed to keep the thieves off your porch and your packages safe.

 

There are two kinds of BoxLock—a home version and a pro version for businesses. We’ll stick with the home model. For a workable system, you need the lock and a box either on your porch or attached to the part of the house where deliveries are made. You can provide your own storage box, or you can get a box from BoxLock. (For those pledging through Kickstarter, having a box supplied is a higher pledge amount.) If you use your own box, it’s suggested that you bolt it down with lag screws or bolts inside the box so they aren’t accessible when the box is closed and locked.

 

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BoxLock works with deliveries from Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal System and will recognize their barcodes. It connects to your Wi-Fi, which allows the app on your phone to keep a record of deliveries, and it even allows you to share barcodes with friends or family to provide them with access to your box. You can also open it with Bluetooth.

 

A push-button on top of the lock activates the scanner, and the internal 30- to 60-day battery is recharged through the Micro USB port on the bottom of the lock. The data stored on the lock is encrypted. Keep in mind, you can also store all kinds of other items in that box that you might want to make available to others without providing access to your home.

 

The BoxLock Pro offerings are basically for businesses with support for up to 25 locks and up to 100 users.

 

At time of writing, the Kickstarter project has 315 backers with 24 days to go for the campaign, which ends December 15. The company has already exceeded its pledge goal of $20,000 by more than $13,000, so the BoxLock will be funded. First deliveries are scheduled for August 2018.

 

You can see a variety of BoxLock combination offerings and watch several demonstrations at http://kck.st/2B6PzSS.

 

KICKSTARTER

 

One of the major crowdfunding platforms online, Kickstarter began operations in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 28, 2009, with the express intention to “help artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality.” Since the launch, 14 million people have backed (sponsored) a project, $3.4 billion has been pledged, and 134,650 projects have been funded successfully.

 

In a way, it seems almost ironic that a product like BoxLock would be getting its start on a site like Kickstarter. BoxLock is designed to fill a need fueled by online retailers who are trying to get their products into customers’ hands as quickly as possible. Yet two fascinating—and starkly counterintuitive—conditions of the Kickstarter business model generally run counter to the inclination to favor instant gratification, which has been conditioned into consumers over the last 50 years or so.

 

First, there’s the browsing. Sites like Kickstarter and the similar Indiegogo are wonderful places to go to shop for beyond-bleeding-edge technology and artistry. It’s a shopping place where you don’t really make purchases. Rather, you make a pledge, and the project managers will take your money, but only on a layaway plan for products that don’t quite exist yet. They need to reach clearly specified goals in order to proceed with manufacture and distribution, so what you are laying away might never see the interior of a delivery truck.

 

And second, as Amazon continues to do everything it can to reduce the minutes that stand between when you tap its buy button and when the package drops on your doorstep, the crowdfunders trade in a delayed gratification, the horizon of which stretches out months away, especially for products that are only prototype models with beta software. It’s faith-based purchasing that encourages a kind of patience that belongs to another era.

 



Michael Castelluccio has been the Technology Editor for Strategic Finance for 21 years. His SF TECHNOTES blog is in its 19th year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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