Looking to get the perfect gift for the frequent flyer in your life? Some new designs in travel luggage may not be on the market yet but at least provide some insight into things to come.
As innovations surrounding all of the components that make up the travel experience manifest, our suitcase can end up looking more like an airport gadget shop than a means to transport one’s apparel. In a day and age when checking-in a bag is an additional charge, trying to fit a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries into a carry-on bag already filled with phone chargers, converters, luggage scales, locks and an inflatable neck pillow can be more than a challenge and brings to question the evolution of the suitcase itself. Or at least it did to a team of New York-based industrial designers and engineers who created Bluesmart.
With Bluesmart, you won’t need the luggage scale or the lock. In fact, you won’t even need your phone charger as the carry-on size ‘smart suitcase’ has all of that and more, built-in – well, kind of. The high-tech hand luggage, synced to an app on your smartphone, comes with a built-in scale to weigh itself. It also checks its own dimensions against the maximum carry-on weight and size restrictions of the airline it will be travelling on to make sure it is suitable for the trip. Synced to your calendar, it will remind you of an upcoming trip and even recommends what to pack!
The four-wheeled piece, to be priced at $235USD, can be locked and unlocked with your phone and even tracks itself. When its proximity sensor detects you are no longer near it, it locks itself and updates you when an attempt to unlock it by someone other than you has been made. It has already been approved by Travel Sentry, a global standard for travel security, which enables it to be opened at airport security inspections throughout North America and Europe, whether it’s in your company or not.
When in transit (or lost in transit), a heat map on the phone app shows you exactly where in the Bluesmart Network (eventually spanning the globe) it is. The suitcase measures the fairly standard carry-on dimensions of 21.5in x 14in x 9in (54.6cm x 35.6cm x 22.9cm), meeting most (but not all) airline requirements for cabin baggage. In addition, it has a powerful battery able to charge your phone six times over and can even charge two devices simultaneously.
The capabilities of the Bluesmart have also been featured in French luggage maker Delsey’s new ‘connected’ suitcase called Pluggage. The Delsey version differs in that the app uses fingerprint identification for greater security as well as having a built-in Wi-fi connection. The sleek design also includes an integrated retractable speaker but otherwise, is quite similar to Bluesmart.
Other recent enhancements to the traditional travel bag include the wacky yet functional City Cab, which transforms your carry-on into a three-wheeled electric scooter! The sometimes suitcase, sometimes mini-bike seats two (including driver) and has all the markings of a motorized vehicle with a nifty steering grip, brakes, safety lights and horn as well as a GPS device and theft alarm. It can travel up to 20km an hour to a maximum distance of 60km before requiring a recharge.
The Hop is a self-driving, hands-free suitcase that connects to a Bluetooth signal from its owner’s smartphone and follows along a short distance behind, allowing the traveller the use of both hands. If ever the signal is lost, the bag stops rolling and promptly locks itself, sending a vibrating signal to the phone notifying the owner it has stopped. The Hop can even be programmed to sync to other Hop bags to create a luggage chain for bigger trips.
In addition to the above, there are chairs that turn into bags and bags that turn into chairs and probably many other variations that give the trusty old suitcase new multiple uses and as technology advances, our definition of luggage will too.
Bluesmart is currently still raising funds to better develop the idea through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and has more than surpassed its target of $50,000, surprisingly surpassing the $1 million dollar mark.