Proptech Putting Package Deliveries in Their Place

The days of pawing through piles of boxes and big envelopes in lobbies are numbered as new technology — including laser-aided ‘smart package rooms’ — take hold

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The continued growth of e-commerce, combined with the COVID-induced work-from-home trend, has made handling the crush of package deliveries more difficult than ever, especially in multifamily buildings.

However, using artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, a few proptech companies have been attacking the problem to try to make the entire process more efficient.

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Position Imaging, a Stratham, N.H.-based package logistics management company, is operating in such New York City multifamily buildings as The Dime in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Manhattan’s StuyTown complex, and at Gramercy Park 210-220 Apartments & Townhouses.

“At the core, we’re a tracking technology company,” said Position Imaging CEO and Founder Ned Hill. “That’s how we cut our teeth and that’s really what we’re best at.”

Founded in 2006, the company spent a total of four years in technology development and beta testing before launching its “computer vision platform managing packages for property managers” about 18 months ago. It then started to work with major multifamily owners like StuyTown owner Blackstone, Stonehenge, and Kushner Real Estate Group, Hill said.

“We’ve got 62 patents either issued or pending,” he added. “We have radio tracking technologies and computer vision AI-based tracking technologies. We focused on the multifamily residential market first because it was a market where we could apply this new way [of tracking]. We’re the only ones in the world that do this.”

While Position Imaging does claim to be unique in its field, there are a number of other proptech startups that attempt to address package delivery and reception.

Among such companies are Fetch, an off-site package manager for multifamily communities, and Luxer One, Package Concierge, and Parcel Pending, which all offer variations of package lockers for deliveries. The companies declined to comment.

Position Imaging’s efforts produced its proprietary Smart Package Room, which dismisses the typical package room lockers in favor of what it claims is flexible and secure access for couriers and residents in any-sized room in a multifamily building. The room uses AI with computer vision technology to monitor packages until the correct owner retrieves them. It also offers cold storage for perishable food items and spaces for dry cleaning drop-off. The automated system receives, secures, and checks out packages, allowing concierges to perform other services for residents, according to the company.

The Smart Package Room sends the recipient a text or email that their package was delivered along with a pin code or QR code so that the user does not need to touch the screen in the room. Using LED lights and lasers, the recipient’s package is highlighted on the shelf, making it easy to locate and pick up. The system takes a photo of the package pickup by the tenant and then uses a type of facial recognition technology to recognize the person the next time and greet them by name.

“It’s almost creepy,” Hill said, laughing.

The cost to the landlord is “much less than lockers,” said Hill. “It’s a standard price per unit per month. And that’s the service fees, because we’re constantly monitoring these rooms to make sure that they’re used well, and, if there’s any questions, that we can answer them.”

In July, Position Imaging will expand into the U.K. and Germany retail real estate markets, said Hill. “We are introducing a new PUDO [pick up, drop off] solution that replaces lockers in Europe. When you go to the lobby there is what we call our iPickup, which is a variation on the smart package room. There’s an iPickup center right there front and center.”

Hill said he is also contemplating flex-office owners like WeWork as potential clients for Position Imaging.

Philip Russo can be reached at prusso@commercialobserver.com.

CORRECTION: This article was updated to reflect the product name of Position Imaging’s variation on a smart package room, called iPickup.