Bournemouth University - E-mail, at a real snail's pace

June 19, 2008

Live snails are used to transmit e-mails in a project devised by researchers at Bournemouth University. The snails are fitted with tiny capsules that hold radio-frequency identification chips. As the snails pass within range of an electronic reader positioned in a tank, e-mails will "attach" themselves to the chips. The e-mails will be sent to their final destinations only once the snails pass close to a second reader, which will then forward the messages. Visitors to a website, which was scheduled to go live on 17 June, can write e-mails and monitor their progress via the snails. RealSnailMail was devised by Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, research fellows in computer animation. "We don't know if or when the snails will collect and send the e-mails left on our website," Ms Isley said. "What we hope is that through this project, we may interrupt, for one small moment, our understanding of communication, allowing us to explore notions of time. It may even enable us to take time rather than lose it."

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