By Evan Ackerman
The world’s first webmail service using real live snails as delivery agents is up and running (er, maybe not running…) at Bournemouth University in the UK. Here’s how it works:
Our snails are equipped with a miniaturised electronic circuit and antenna that enables them to be assigned messages from hardware located within their enclosure. The moment you click ‘send’ your message will travel at the speed of light to our snail server where it will await collection by a snail agent.
Once associated with the tiny electronic chip on the snails shell your message will be carried around until the snail chances by the drop off point. Hardware located at this point collects the message from the snail and forwards it to its final destination.
This is absolutely for real; send your own message by clicking here. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though… Muriel, one of the snails, hasn’t bothered to deliver any messages at all. Cecil has delivered 4 messages so far with an average delivery time of 3.26 days, and Austin is blazing along, having delivered 10 messages in about 1.96 days each.
When if your message gets delivered, it’ll include a complete log of your snail agent’s progress and details about the particular snail involved. I’ve just sent one off, myself. Let’s see, is it delivered yet? Nope. …Now? Um, nope. Hmm. Well, I’ll keep you updated.