Like most industries, technology has had a massive impact on the way people travel. From finding the best deals online, to ordering a cab to get to the airport, and the technology of the airplanes themselves, tech has undoubtedly changed travel for the better. Everything is easier, quicker, cheaper, and faster than ever before.
One area that is attempting to harness technology to make our lives better is the smart accessories category. We’ll take a look at some products and trends in this category and fill you in on what “smart luggage” is all about.
The Rise of the Smart Suitcase
The past three years have really seen the rise of smart luggage, particularly the “smart suitcase”. Smart suitcases provide technological extras meant to make our lives and travel experiences easier. These extras include things like charging ports for your devices on long journeys, GPS trackers, and connected apps to help you keep track of your luggage, and security add-ons to prevent identity theft. Other common features are things like electronic locks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, and built-in electronic scales.
The thinking behind these smart suitcases is, “if travel tech has come so far, surely luggage – which is such an integral part of travel – should also offer tech-forward options.” And with this, smart suitcases were born.
But while smart suitcases have had some success, the absence of smart luggage at airports shows that they haven’t taken off as quickly as people initially thought they would.
Are smart-suitcases really smart?
Smart Suitcases have faced two main challenges: The first is that they’re not “smart” enough. Correct us if we’re wrong, but adding a power bank or GPS into a regular suitcase does not necessarily make the product much smarter. The technology offered has not convinced a large enough portion of the world’s traveling population that smart luggage is a “must-have” – at least not yet. The second challenge is that at times these smart suitcases are too smart, especially for the likes of airport security. With global jitters around air travel persisting, and after laptops were banned from some countries, having suitcase-sized lithium-ion-powered gadgets floating around the skies is a nightmare for organizations like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In fact, several airlines have banned this kind of smart luggage where the lithium-ion battery cannot be removed as it is a fire hazard, and some aviation governing bodies such as the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) and the U.N. International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) recommend that lithium-ion batteries not be stored in the cargo hold of an airplane. So what is the future of “smart luggage”?
The Most Intelligent Smart-Suitcases Around
The issues surrounding smart luggage are being ironed out, and regulations will delineate what is acceptable and where the line is in the not-too-distant future.
In any case, for most smart luggage providers, removable batteries are a common feature – and travelers who use smart luggage are likely to carry it with them on the plane anyway.
Below are some really cool and actually “smart” suitcases that can change the way you travel:
- The Modobag is billed as “the carry-on that carries you” and is the world’s first motorized suitcase. It’s built so that you can ride it in the airport (yes, you actually ride the bag). It also features 2 USB ports, LED light controls, app-controlled tracking and proximity alert, and a riding range of up to 8 miles.
- Rimowa is attempting to offer “the first digital check-in solution for your luggage”. With the Rimowa Electronic Tag, travelers will be able to check-in their luggage from anywhere and drop it off at the airport within seconds. The tag is based on e-ink and is supported by some (but not all) airlines. The electronic tag replaces the usual paper label with a digital data module, to which the airline’s luggage data is transmitted.
- Fugu Luggage’s Rollux, which launched on Kickstarter is one of the best 2-in-1 suitcases around. It can be used as a small carry-on bag, which can then be expanded and made into a full sized suitcase if needed. It offers travelers freedom and flexibility to use their bag how they want, and avoid expensive baggage fees. This is especially useful for travelers packing light for one direction of a flight, and expecting a full suitcase in the other. Rollux is user-friendly, sleek and modern looking, and expands in seconds.
- Another really cool product, though not an actual smart suitcase, is the Smart Luggage Lock from Incase. It turns any suitcase into a “smart suitcase,” by allowing you to unlock it via a smartphone app. In case you run out of battery, the TSA-compatible lock can also be opened with a key.
The Future of Travel
Today, people are traveling more than ever before, with luggage and airports becoming a big part of people’s lives. Choosing the right suitcase can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your travels, including cost, stress levels, and convenience. There are some really excellent ideas out there, and now it’s just a case of deciding on the right suitcase for you.