No one’s yet nailed the design of an anti-package-theft porch locker and dominated that market. While they continue to grow in popularity, the designs are all over the map.
However, it seems we’ll soon see a second object on suburban porches, and this one will have a standardized design. Walmart, whose home delivery grocery service has thrived during the pandemic, sees their growth limited by the need for customers to coordinate delivery times for receiving; the deliveryperson can’t just leave a package of organic kale on your stoop to wilt in the sun. Thus Walmart has partnered with HomeValet, a delivery logistics firm, to utilize and distribute that company’s Smart Box.
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The Smart Box is essentially a locking cooler with built-in refrigeration for three interior compartments, which can all be set to different temperatures. Customers order groceries via app; a deliveryperson shows up, unlocks the Box via an app, drops off the goods and locks the Box; customers then unlock it and retrieve the goods at their leisure.
As a supposed bonus, Homevalet claims that a UV-C light inside the box will disinfect the contents, but this is likely more gimmicky than practical; UV disinfection only works via line-of-sight, so goods obscured behind other goods would not be disinfected.
As for what prevents a package thief from simply hauling the whole thing off, HomeValet states that the Box “has an anchor point for securing it to the ground with a stake, chain, or whatever security methods work for you. However, the size and weight of the Smart Box make it difficult to remove.” Hmm.
Walmart’s thinking is that the Smart Box will enable 24-7 grocery delivery without the need for someone to be home, which they anticipate will be a big draw. And HomeValet adds that the box could be used for package deliveries as well, though it’s unclear if these would be Walmart-only, or if other delivery services would be given access to the Box.
Pleasingly for hackers, the Smart Box will be an IoT object.
Walmart will begin trialing the Smart Box this spring, starting with their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.