What in the world do stamps and smart phones have in common, you ask? Your question reveals that you have not heard yet about the world’s first digital stamp. We hasten to enlighten you.
You know how, back in 1840, Great Britain pioneered the introduction of the first postage stamp? Today it is known as Penny Black. This momentous event is mentioned in the bidorbuy article Stamps for Kids and Kings.
The next event that is important for this story happened in 1936, when W.H. Auden wrote a poem entitled The Night Train.
In case you are getting impatient and starting to wonder where all this is leading, bear with us a little longer. All the elements of the story came together at the beginning of September 2010, when British Royal Mail recorded another world-wide first by launching stamps that can direct a smart phone to a web page featuring the legendary actor Bernard Cribbins reading the poem The Night Train by W. H. Auden.
The event was hailed as the world’s first digital or intelligent stamp.
Actually, the stamps in question are quite ordinary stamps, commemorating the British Railways. However, if you possess a smart phone and if you download image recognition software called Junaio and if you take a photo of one of the specially tagged stamps, your phone’s web browser will take you to the web page with Auden’s poem.
The Junaio application is free and works in conjunction with iPhone and Android devices.
The British Royal Mail says that their smart stamps will â€œopen up a whole new world of information, interest and fun to collectors and to the millions of people who will receive them on letters in the coming months.”
As is usual on such occasions, there were some discordant notes to the effect that Royal Mail should concentrate on speedy delivery of letters and parcels, rather than on technological gimmicks like this one. But then, where would we humans be if we always listened to detractors!