I believe this will be a game changer for the shipping business.
FedEx will be launching a new service called SenseAware that will allow businesses to not only track their packages, but the conditions of their packages while en route.
SenseAware is a plastic-encased sensor with a GPS tracking signal that allows customers to monitor the exact location of their package in real time. It also includes the temperature of the package and whether it's been opened or not.
The service starts at about $120 a month.
FedEx will initially be marketing the service primarily to the medical industry (imagine what this will mean for shipping live donor organs).
However, the possibilities extend well beyond the Mayo Clinic.
Businesses who ship food or plants, for example, will be able to monitor their shipments and determine where they are withering on the vine before getting to customers.
Imagine the useful data to be culled over time. Imagine being able to factor lenth of delivery time with variations in temperature exposures.
Imagine being able to crunch the numbers over time and compare the difference in shipping in summer versus winter; routes in the Northeast versus the Southwest.
Businesses will be able to see which airports are keeping packages at a stable room temperature, and which are leaving them to bake or freeze on the tarmac too long.
Speaking of airports, the FAA has cleared SenseAware for take-off. It should be available by Spring.
Last updated: Dec 7, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio