Standing in lobby of 180 Roslyn, a brand-new upscale apartment complex in Osborne Village, is a grey locker measuring less than two metres tall and a little over a metre wide. It is installed with three security cameras, a computer with a touch screen and 12 compartments of various sizes lined with infrared technology.
Designed by Toronto-based Snaile Canada, the first smart locker in Winnipeg looks and operates like a heavy-duty bank machine. Yet, as more people go online to shop, it may revolutionize package delivery.
Susan Feldman, a co-developer of the complex and a champion for the installation of the machine, said she wanted the smart locker because there have been instances where packages were delivered but had to be left in the hallway, creating a fire hazard and leaving them open to theft.
"Clearly, it provides tremendous convenience," Feldman said. "And with Amazon, online shopping becoming so popular, we wanted to make life easier and more seamless for our tenants."
Kirstin Thomas, on-boarding specialist for Snaile, demonstrated how the machine works.
To deliver a package, someone chooses English or French labels, the size of the package and the unit to which it is addressed.
There’s a metallic thud as a door swings open, allowing the delivery person to insert the package into a slot.
Thomas said each slot has an infrared sensor to detect packages. Once detected, a notification will be sent to the package recipient via text message or email that their parcel has arrived. The recipient will receive reminders to pick up their package every 24 hours.
"It’s meant to be stupid simple," Thomas said. "We’re trying to cover all age groups, all cultures across Canada. So it has to be straightforward."
Thomas noted that tenants have access to the machine 24-7 and do not have to be on-site to accept a delivery. She said an access code will be sent to the recipient that will be punched in when they pick up the package.
Resident manager Rick Friesen said the smart locker has already been used by a handful of residents.
"It was seamless," Friesen said. "It was like ordering your food at McDonald’s."
Thomas says the smart locker has a computer connected to the cloud, where data about packages — such as size — is stored for up to three months.
The master smart locker, as Snaile calls it, is equipped with a set number of slots of various sizes. But should a building require more slots of a certain size, Thomas said, Snaile and the building manager could review the data and order an attachment to the master locker to meet the demand.
Snaile is still in its infancy. Thomas said the company was in the works for a few years, and its first locker was installed about a year ago.
Smart lockers have been installed in other Canadian cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, and Thomas said a locker may soon be installed in Saskatoon.
Snaile partnered with Mississauga, Ont.-based moving company AMJ Campbell, which ships and installs the machines. The company also manufactures refrigerated lockers for people who order groceries online from services such as Hello Fresh.