Ideas for how to tell when mailbox is opened by mailman vs my family?

I’ve got a Hue Motion Sensor I was thinking of sticking in the back of my mailbox. When it’s triggered, it will send a notification through SmartThings that the mail has been dropped off.

However, when we collect the mail it will also be triggered.

It seems simple enough to do “first time it’s triggered in a day is the mailman, second time is family” (which seems to be how most people in this community have done it), but in the real world that won’t work for me because eventually someone will probably check the mail before the mailman even gets there. Or the mailman comes and no one is home to collect it until the next morning, etc.

The best idea I’ve got right now is to log when the mailman comes every day and try to come up with a window of time where triggering the motion sensor is probably the mailman, and outside that window it’s probably my family.

Does anyone else have ideas for how I can differentiate between the mailman and my family?

It’s an interesting question. If there’s a door between the family and the mail carrier, you could certainly reduce the possibility of error by using stacked conditionals so that if the door was opened and then the mail was opened within, say, three minutes, it’s probably a family member. That’s no guarantee, But it should help.

If the mailbox is close enough to the front door, you might be able to use a facial recognition camera, but that adds a lot of cost and effort if you weren’t already doing that.

If your family is self disciplined, You could have them tell your voice assistant that they were going out to check the mail and then that there was no mail and capture those variables. That will work in some households and not others, and it’s a lot more work to set up again.

But I would turn it around. Once your family learns that there will be a notification when your mailbox is open, they should also learn not to keep checking it. So the number of false alerts should go way down. I think that’s why that method works for most families.

But different things will work for different people, so you have to evaluate the details of your own use case for this one. :sunglasses:

Another option you could do if your family has reasonable self-discipline is to put a reset button on the mailbox along with the motion sensor.

If a family member opens the box and either takes the mail out or the box is empty, have them hit the reset button. The only purpose of the reset button is to prevent the “mail is here“ notification from happening.

I’m pretty sure you could daisychain that and make it work with the new app and no custom code except virtual switches, for example.

But it depends on the family members being consistent in using the button.

Or you could put another sensor in the mailbox that is only triggered when it is covered by mail.