When I think of innovation, one of the last places I think of is the United States Postal Service. So color me surprised when USPS debuted a new app this week at the Consumer Electronics Show that works well and could increase a company’s interest in sending mail again.

USPS has had a lot of trouble over the past decade, with email eating away at snail mail usage and UPS and FedEx taking customers from USPS’s package delivery services. But with this new app, the organization might be showing at least some signs of life.

The app, developed with Aurasma, scans a piece of mail and uses augmented reality to make the paper an interactive ad. Ideally, companies that want to engage with potential customers could do so with a new kind of advertising — one that merges digital and physical ads.

“We worked on this to show companies that hard copy mail can be a part of their editorial content,” Chris Karpenko, head of USPS outreach, told me on the CES show floor. “It’s all about the customer experience. And there is a measurable ROI on click-throughs.”

Karpenko said the app will likely be released “before the end of 2013.”

Check out video of the app below.

Top photo via Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

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