The U.S. Postal Service and the Envelope Manufacturers Association Foundation for Education and Research announced findings on the future of paper-based communications last week.
The report found that an intelligent document can be used by mailers to initiate an electronic transaction, confirm delivery and track a mail piece from mailbox to delivery — essentially enabling mail to talk to the customer as it travels through the mail stream.
The study follows a four-month review of the research and development of intelligent document technology by E-Stamp, Pitney Bowes, Bell & Howell, Xerox and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We found that the outside of an envelope can often convey as much information as the internal content and with further development can serve as a bridge between paper-based commerce and electronic commerce,” said Scott Mitchell, chairman of the EMAFER.
According to the USPS, the study and development of technologies that interface between paper-based transactions and electronic transactions is not new to the postal service. Together with Optical Character Reader technology, it's currently encouraging the development of the “information-based” postage meter indicia.