London, June 18 : UK scientists have equipped three snails with tiny capsules holding a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip to enable them to send e-mails on behalf of visitors to a website.
The messages sent through the new system will travel at 0.03mph rather than reach their destinations instantaneously, and may take days, weeks or even months to arrive.
Bournemouth University experts describe the new system as part a "slow art" project called Real Snail Mail, which will be showcased in Los Angeles in August.
"One thing technology promises us is speed, acceleration, more of everything in less time," the BBC quoted Paul Smith, a visual artist working on the project, as saying.
"Culturally, we seem obsessed with immediacy. Time is not to be taken but crammed to bursting point," he added.
The researchers say that the RFID chips fitted with each of the snails allows the objects to communicate over short distances.
According to them, users of the service send a message through the Real Snail Mail website which is routed to the tank at the speed of light to await collection by a snail "agent".
They have revealed that the snails, while slowly ambling around the tank, occasionally come into the range of an electronic reader that attaches the e-mail message to the RFID chip.
The snails then physically carry the message around the tank until one of them passes close to a second reader, and then forward it over the net in the usual way.
"It could be quite frustrating for some people. It's completely subverting that normal system," Vicky Isley, one of the artists, said.
The three snails have delivered 14 messages to date, 10 of which were made with an average delivery time of 1.96 days.
"He's a super-powered snail - he's doing really well. He's really quite big - he's always the one that gets to the food first," said Isely.
Presentations on the project will be made at the computer graphics conference Siggraph in Los Angeles from 11-15 August.