Several years ago, I had seen a movie called “Brazil“. The most striking visual element of the movie for me was the use of ducts. There were flexible ducts running everywhere. And that got me thinking what if we have network of flexible ducts running across the entire city connecting centralized distribution centers with homes. Imagine a scenario, you wake up in the morning and order a cup of cappuccino, using internet, from Starbucks. The Barista at Starbucks will brew a fresh cup of your cappuccino enclose it in spill-proof capsule and then put it in one of the ducts with your home address encoded. Within few minutes, the capsule travels to your home, you open the duct and nice cup of cappuccino is waiting for here. Similarly, you can order groceries, cameras, clothes, etc..
I always wondered whether it was possible to economically build such network of ducts as a distribution network for goods with direct reach to your home with latency of few minutes. Well, as it turns out, I am not the only guy thinking about the same. Franco Cotana, an engineering physicist at the University of Perugia, in Italy, has actually designed a system called “Pipenet” as a goods-distribution network.
The economist article – Put that in your pipe and poke it – provides more details on Pipenet. I certainly look forward to Pipenet in my town.