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Evansville-engineered ‘smart boxes’ are changing home delivery

 The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many aspects of our lives, but home delivery stands above the rest as perhaps the most accelerated change. One Evansville-engineered product is looking to make it safer, easier, and more efficient.

HomeValet is a subscription-based app that allows couriers to deliver consumer-purchased products to a secure container placed outside the home called a Smart Box. Founded by father-son duo John and Jack Simms of Tysons, Virginia, the two came up with the idea of an internet-connected system in the late 1990s and received patents for the Smart Box technology in 2005.

“We saw an opportunity to address the growing need for grocery delivery by solving the ‘last yard’ of home delivery with a connected technology solution that would be primed for the market once the industry and consumer needs had caught up with technology,” says Jack.

The Smart Boxes are regulated by customers and delivery drivers through the HomeValet app and have three temperature-controlled compartments for a variety of items, from traditional packages to groceries to prescriptions. Smart Boxes’ control is through a contactless method that has 24/7 capabilities. Jack calls it the “modern-day mailbox.”

He adds grocery delivery is expected to be the first major adopter of the technology, with the cold-chain compliant compartments preventing spoilage and security protecting against theft and weather damage.

In September 2020, HomeValet acquired Evansville-based Envolve Engineering, an engineering consulting company founded by former Whirlpool employees. The Envolve team had worked closely with HomeValet for more than two years prior on the development of the Smart Box technology, and the engineering team continues to operate out of Evansville, utilizing the onsite lab for testing, evaluation, and product development.

“As the various phases of the HomeValet work grew, HomeValet became a larger and larger percentage of the contract work for Envolve Engineering,” says Mike Stagg, HomeValet’s director of engineering and co-founder of Envolve. “At some point, it was a logical step for Envolve to become part of HomeValet and focus on what will become a new category of home appliance.”

Though the Smart Boxes are not yet on the market, officials say HomeValet will be available soon for pre-order online.

Photo provided by HomeValet

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