Sunday, December 12, 2010

homely tubes

Pneumatic tube systems are used in hospitals, supermarkets, banks and pharmacies. But what about our own homes?

A UK-based project called Foodtubes, which promises to revolutionalise food transportation via pneumatic/vacuum technology, has recently led to all sorts of incredulous outcries and postulations by techie and environmental bloggers embracing and ridiculing the idea. Someone who has commented on the grist blog post about this issue argues that it is a waste to use Foodtube technology at the organisational level, but rather it should be taken into our own homes:
"I don't know about replacing deliveries to stores... trucks are awfully efficient for that! Make them electric, and they'd be hard to beat. On the other hand, pneumatic tubes could provide efficient delivery to individual homes, eliminating the need for people to go to the store. With modern barcode or RFID systems, the packages could be routed to the correct house easily enough. Some things might not do too well - I wouldn't want to cram a 20-pound watermelon into a 6-inch tube - but for most staples it would work quite well"
It isn't the first time that pneumatic tube technology has been considered for home usage. Remember that great Heineken ad from a few months ago? There is also the home elevator, as well as centralised home vacuum cleaning units. My dad remembers one of these units being installed in his parents' new home in the 1980s. It seems that home-based pneumatic tube technology is either something from the past, or the projected Jetsonian future, but is it for us right now?

Image courtesy of fabulousfairy.

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