Push notifications for snail mail on an iPhone

[Matt] over at Make came up with a way to send push alerts to his iPhone whenever his mailbox is opened.

The electronics are just a switch mounted to the mailbox connected to an Arduino with an ethernet shield, but the interesting part of the build is the code. [Matt] got the Arduino WebClient to request a PHP script sitting on a server. This script connects to the Prowl API to push the notification onto an iPhone.

[Matt]‘s project has been up for a few months now, and we still haven’t seen any projects using an Arduino+Push combo, or really any other phone except for the iPhone. We think this could be done on an Android phone with cloud to device messaging, but that can’t be the only solution. Any hackaday readers have an idea of how to implement this outside the iOS world? What would Hackaday readers do with a microcontroller that can send push alerts to your phone?

Video of [Matt] walking us through the project after the break

Comments

  1. Duncan says:

    You can just email yourself, or send a text to you, that way it wouldn’t matter what phone you had. If you can email, you can send a text.

    http://20somethingfinance.com/how-to-send-text-messages-sms-via-email-for-free/

  2. 0x4368726973 says:

    You could use almost any of the PHP email sending sccripts, for security, hardcode the email address at the top of the script. Now, just do a get command on that PHP page, possibly adding something like a custom message after, and it is pushed out. Use an email that pushes to your device, and it now works on Apple, Droid, Crackberry, and WM, in addition to PCs.

  3. Aero says:

    So every Monday-Saturday at ~3 o’clock you can a push notification. :P

  4. Aero says:

    BTW, I’m not ragging on the hack, just the implementation. I think something like that would be useful in a DIY home security system.

    Say you’re on vacation, you could set it up to get notifications when your front door is opened so you know your pets are being taken care of by your neighbor at the appropriate times (or your house is being broken into :D ).

  5. Jeff says:

    My doorbell sends me a twitter direct message when it is rung. My washer and dry also send messages when they’ve completed, in that case I just use a tilt sensor that I hooked up to the knob. Unfortunately texts are not guaranteed delivery, but so far it hasn’t been a problem.

  6. Aaron says:

    Seconding everybody else who says “push alerts? You mean like SMS and email?”

    Do iPhone push alerts get some kind of priority handling that makes them likelier to arrive more quickly than SMS or email (or email-via-SMS) will?

  7. Casey says:

    I really like this idea, and it’s something akin to what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but isn’t there some slick way to avoid having to run a cable all the way out to your mailbox? Some people don’t have their mailbox attached to their house.

  8. Dan says:

    Casey: I think you might be able to hack a wireless doorbell transmitter.

  9. ??? says:

    Great concept but quick question. You said run the wire to the house. It would have to go down the mailbox pole, snaking along the edge of your driveway inside somewhere. It seems like there’s too many variables that could damage/intercept that signal going in. I know that some people have mailboxes screwed a foot away from the front door or live in an apartment but is there anyway to route the wire so that it doesn’t get damaged? Maybe coat it with waterproof something or big a small canal and bury.

  10. DarkFox says:

    I finished a similar project yesterday, using a cheap mail-notifier + doorbell device and an Arduino.

    I haven’t written a page about it, but I have made some videos of the project:

    The arduino code is available here:

    https://github.com/DarkFox/Arduino/blob/master/Mailnotifier/Mailnotifier.pde

    And the python script on the computer-side is available here:

    https://github.com/DarkFox/Mail-notifier

  11. Chris says:

    Comment on the original post: Growl for Windows lets me push to my DROID just like an iPhone. Just need a simple plugin/addon and the Android app “NMA” (Notify My Android).

    I’m building an Arduino/E-shield doorbell for push notifications to our iPad app right now. Testing with my OG Droid.

    Chris

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