The coronavirus has turned our lives upside down. Instead of walking into an office building, many of us walk into a home office to do our work. Instead of watching the latest blockbuster in a crowded theater, we turn to HBO Max or Netflix to get our movie fix. The pandemic even changed the way we shop, with e-commerce sales increasing 40.3 percent from 2019 to 2020.
The increase in shopping has caused quite the conundrum for luxury high-rise developments, whose staff struggle to organize and help tenants access their latest delivery of prepared meals, at-home workout gear and collection of purchases from Amazon.
“Multiunit residential buildings have relied on archaic methods to manage [packages], whether it’s just a room that is sort of the wild west [of] ‘Go find your package’ or lockers that are not a good use of space,” said Ned Hill, the CEO of tracking technology company Position Imaging. “[Lockers] are a bad use of space for package sizing — one small package going into a large locker is just a waste of space.”
With that in mind, Hill launched the Smart Package Room, which uses computer imaging, tracking technology, and customizable open shelving to create a package pick-up system that requires little-to-no staff supervision and simplifies tenants’ experience.
“We’ve developed this very unique AI-based computer vision platform to help automate the process without the manual lockers or without staff,” he explained. “We have a system that utilizes computer vision to monitor, track and manage the entire process without the heavy lifting.”
“We’ve got a tremendous amount of technology behind the company, and we’ve got patents pending and issued,” he added. “We’ve got the head of advanced technology from Apple on our team, and so we’re really a tech-heavy company focused on a very simple mundane problem of package management.”
The setup process takes anywhere from one to three days and can be customized to any sized room. The installation team will install the access portal for couriers and tenants, metal shelving, the computer imaging and tracking system, and the audio guide.
To make a delivery, couriers will receive a PIN to begin scanning packages into the portal and access the room. After scanning the package, the courier can place it in any open space as the room’s computer imaging system records where it was placed.
To pick up a package, tenants receive a notification with an access PIN. Once they enter the room, the computer imaging and audio system will shine a light on the package and announce where the package is.
If a tenant picks up the wrong package, the audio system will alert them and redirect them to the correct space. If a tenant is picking up multiple packages, the system will provide light and audio guides for each one until they finish.
“We can handle everything in one fell swoop, so it becomes incredibly efficient,” Hill said. “They just go and take everything and leave.”
The Smart Packaging Room system has caught the eye of multiple commercial and residential developers along the East Coast, with luxury multifamily and high-rise developments Stonehenge NYC and The Dime adopting it as their new package system.
Hill said the system has worked “incredibly well” for his commercial and residential clients, as it extends package pickup hours, allows the staff to focus on other more important tasks and reduces the risk for package theft.
“The convenience and speed of the Smart Package Room, combined with the freedom of secure access to our building will allow residents of The Dime to live safely and comfortably, with the best amenities the industry has to offer,” Tavros Holdings Founding Partner Nicholas Silvers said of the system. “Adding a scalable convenient package room has become critical to our residents as they depend more and more on goods delivered directly to their home.”
Looking forward, Hill said Position Imaging is building on the years of artificial intelligence and computer imaging research to deploy the Smart Package Room on a larger scale, and it has recruited talent from and forged partnerships with some of the world’s biggest shipping and technology companies.
Lastly, he said he wants to expand the company’s reach and compete with other popular options, such as Amazon Lockers.
“Lockers are just a very inefficient use of space where you got a tremendous amount of metal,” Hill explained. “I mean, sometimes as much as 50 percent of the working volume is metal, and then in addition to that, you’ve got a very inefficient use of individualized compartments.”
“I would say there’s a place for lockers, but my personal opinion is the place for lockers is probably outdoors, where you’ve got no security,” he added. “Our new computer vision platform gets around [those issues.] It takes those open rooms, which we’ve seen in the market is the preferred medium where people want to put packages, and makes it incredibly secure.”