Smart Suitcase

Technology is transforming travel like any other industry. Airbnb, Wi-Fi on board, GPS and various review websites are making traveling simpler and more accessible. Another of the technological advancements that is transforming travel for the better is smart luggage. There are numerous features of a smart suitcase that are already common and make traveling more seamless. And there are other more revolutionary features that are still in the development process.

Most of the smart suitcase come with:

  • USB Ports: Now you can charge your  phone or laptop directly from your suitcase. The battery of most smart suitcases has enough capacity to fully charge an iPhone 5-6 times. USB ports are located in the front compartment of the suitcase so you can charge your device while storing it in the suitcase and still have it easily accessible. If I think how many times I wandered around an airport looking for an outlet or ended up sitting on the floor in a random corner just because it was the only outlet I found, that is a pretty useful feature. 31464_4_170629150702.jpg
  •  GPS Tracking with SIM coverage in 100+ countries: Have you ever sit in a plane wondering if your luggage made it on board after a short layover? Well, you won’t have to worry about it with a GPS tracking. Now you can know exactly where your bag is. For example, you can check if your bag is on the plane before boarding and notify an airline representative if it is not. Airline representative can then still try to make sure your suitcase makes it on board on time.  
  • Bluetooth proximity sensor: Never worry about leaving your bag behind. This sensor alerts you when you get too far away from your bag. Similarly, the sensor will alert you when your bag is loaded on the luggage carousel so you can start looking out for it.
  •  A built-in scale: many smart suitcases can now tell you their weight. Again knowing the weight of your suitcase before arriving to the airport can save a lot of trouble. This past winter break I was in Vietnam with my family and we decided last minute to fly a low-cost airline instead of waiting for our delayed flight. The problem was that low cost carriers are very strict about luggage weight so we suddenly had to rearrange our suitcases. And trust me doing that in the middle of the airport running back and forth to the scale is not fun. That moment I would love to have a suitcase that tells me its weight. pack-smart.jpg
  • App-controlled digital lock/fingerprint lock: These locks allow you to have your belongings secure without worrying about remembering number combinations or losing a key to your lock. Additionally, both of these technologies are TSA approved now so you can be sure airport security will not damage your lock if they are trying to open it for additional scanning.20140930013947-11-1.jpg

The features mentioned above are typical for a smart suitcase and are offered in most of the models. Smart suitcases are available in both carry-on and full size versions. A cost of such a model from brands like Bluesmart and Away is around $200-$600 depending on the included features. However, there are other more advanced features that are only offered in the upscale models. For example, some suitcases come with Bluetooth speakers so you will not bored if your flight is delayed.

Rimowa suitcases come with electronic ink tag that allows you to check your bag from home. The app sends your data to the partnering airline and an electronic ink tag appears via Bluetooth on the display built into the suitcase. After that, you only need to drop off your bag at the airport. However, very few airlines are currently processing e-ink tags.rimowa-electronic-tag.jpg

Modobag created a carry-on that you can ride to get to your gate faster. Can be convenient since airports are huge now, but the price of the convenience is large – $1500. 160722151950-modobag-photo-780x439.png

Additionally, during a Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018 suitcases that feature Segway technology have been premiered. The bag just follows you around the airport using a remote control. This technology is still in the development process. If it becomes adopted by many people I imagine that airports would get quite chaotic with thousands of people walking around and suitcases trying to follow their owners.c4295797-e475-4a98-a87e-82c4992ece1f.gif

It seems that overall features like USB ports and built-in scales are becoming more mainstream. As technology develops, the price of such suitcases will go down and at some point traditional suitcases may become obsolete. However, the smart suitcase industry does have some challenges. In January 2018 Federal Aviation Administration prohibited lithium batteries in checked bags. The batteries are still allowed for carry-ons and on board, but they cannot be connected to the suitcase. This presents challenges for the industry. It is true that you can still remove the battery from your suitcase and bring it with you, but removing the battery makes all the features useless and transforms the smart suitcase into a plain bag. For many people a smart case suitcase became suddenly not so smart of a purchase. It will be interesting to see how smart suitcases producers will adopt to this new law and if they will be able to find another battery type that is not subject to these regulations.

 

 

11 comments

  1. I was aware of implementing electronics into luggage but had no idea that there were so many fanciful options! I totally see the value of some of the more mundane features like a battery pack and GPS chips for locating lost luggage but many of the other features seem to be needlessly creating the risk of more problems. Electronic ink tags could easily leave bags with no visible evidence of the information needed by airlines if there is a malfunction. Frankly, (and maybe I’m being close minded) I think the ridable suitcase and the bag that will follow you are both ridiculous and examples of us reaching new heights of laziness. Time will tell if I see miniature suitcase go-karts soon.

  2. I was quite interested when I read the title because personally I check fundraising websites like indiegogo frequently. I actually saw projects like this before. One key risk I would consider is that since the smart suitcase is able to charge, that means it has a huge battery which the security might consider. There are large chances that a smart suitcase won’t make it on the plane since a huge lithium battery is very dangerous. I think the product is not mature. Its popularity in the foreseeing future remains in doubts because having those additional features is not a must. But for me I will be very excited though! Nice post!

  3. Smart luggage is a big deal, especially for those who travel for work regularly. Companies have started to really provide solid options to consumers to ensure that they not only get a quality piece of luggage, but also have the ability to stay “connected” at all times. Personally, I own both a suitcase and backpack that provide me with a lot of the features mentioned above, and its totally worth it. Ive been able to charge my laptop and phone without needed to find a power outlet. What not to like about that?

    What I found most fascinating is the tracking technology, and enabling faster response times towards luggage pick up or even reporting lost luggage. Recently, I witnessed several self-moving suitcases overseas in Europe. Almost every airport I was flying in and out of, I saw travelers wizzing away on their suitcase. My initial reactions to laugh, but i guess its gaining traction abroad quicker than in the states.

  4. I recently did some research and wrote a blog about how technology was being used in airports. However, most of the research I found was on how the airlines were using the technology in the airports for their benefit. It is interesting to hear about what technology is being used by consumers on the other end as well. My favorite feature is definitely the USB port. In terms of use, this seems like the most practical one. Finding an outlet to charge a phone is always the mist annoying thing to do when traveling. It is also fun to hear that the self-moving suitcases are already popular in Europe. Although I do agree in part, that it does seem a little foolish and could be hectic, I am sure that there will also be a lot of people that love it and will want to own one. Nonetheless, the industry will still have to address the challenge of the battery. I am sure they are already on their way to finding a suitable replacement.

  5. I think this is a very cool article. I really think that there is a good market for these “smart suitcases” in today’s world with all of the stress on personal security. Also, having this suitcase makes the airport process go by a lot smoother. People no longer have to worry about finding the one outlet at the gate that doesn’t work, or worrying the whole time on the plane whether or not your luggage made it on. I think that the market for these suitcases is going to first be limited to those who travel on planes regularly. I cannot see someone who travels once or twice a year purchasing such a hi-tech suitcase. One problem that I can see arising is if you try to access your smart suitcase while the plane is in the air, and their is some sort of transmitting malfunction which in turn causes the smart suitcase to overheat and eventually catch flames. That may be a little but of a stretch but you have to account for all possibilities.

  6. Great post, Ksenia!! Like @roarkword, I was completely unaware about some of the features and technologies companies are currently using in suitcases.

    I agree with your point that batteries will be a hurdle for the industry to overcome. I’ve read a lot about that in the last couple of weeks. One of my favorite luggage companies who I consider “semi-smart” luggage is Away. They’ve made their batteries removable so that customers can detach the battery in the case that they want to check their bag.

    Another feature I was particularly interested in is the GPS tracking feature. As someone who has horrible luck with flights, this is something I would love!! I know a couple of airlines such as Delta (unfortunately not the one I with whom I fly most often) have started including this feature in their apps. I would be interested to see how the two compare. On the surface, it seems like the GPS tracking for the bag would be more accurate through the suitcase rather than through the airline app, as airlines often make many mistakes when scanning and tagging bags in the first place.

  7. As a person who has taken a lot of flights, I love the idea of smart suitcases. All the struggles you mentioned above have happened to anyone who flies frequently. Finding outlets is usually a struggle at airports since the charging stations are usually taken all the time. Although most airplanes now have outlets for charging phones, it is still nice to have the option in your own suitcase.
    I think the scale is also very important feature since I recently experienced the problem of overweight in my luggage. During spring break, me and my friends were 20 pounds over and it caught us by surprise because there was no way for us to weigh it before getting to the airport.
    The GPS is also a great future because sometimes when your bag doesn’t make it on time, you waste a lot of time waiting at the airport not knowing where your bag is. This happened to me once and I had to wait by the belt for a while until some representative told me that my bag was on a later flight and that it would be sent to me the next morning.
    Although smart suitcases are probably super expensive and not affordable by many people, I think that once multiple companies start releasing models, the price will eventually go down and we will be seeing these at the airports more often. I look forward to owning one in the future!!

  8. Very interesting post, the features of smart suitcase can be extremely helpful for travelers, and the idea of electronic ink tag can save a lot time. I think the suitcase that features segway technology might not as useful as it seems to be. Because of the segway feature, it takes a lot of the space from the suitcase and make it become heavy, which means the user can’t put much stuff in it. I love the build-in scale and the USB features, but unfortunately the FAA banned lithium batteries from checked bags. Maybe the industry should focus on developing the carry on bags, by making the smart suitcases smaller in size.

  9. Nice post. Lots of great features for smart bags (and some crazy ones as well!)

  10. I have smart carryon. I have had mixed results going through security. One TSA personnel tried to rip the wiring and technology out of my suitcase. The battery is removable, which I showed the TSA person. Some time the suitcase goes through the scan without any fuss. I know that I have to be ready to completely unpack my bag and expose the wiring, which if you are cutting it close on time can be annoying. I also think the GPS tracker only stays on long while the battery is connected and charged. A lot of ducks have to be in a row in order for you to locate your luggage. These are all early adopter issues. In time, TSA will have more comfort with the smart suitcase. I think it is way too early to buy a smart susitcase that you would check.

  11. The idea of a smart suitcase is both interesting and ridiculous to me. When I travel, I try not to check a bag if at all possible (too many bad experiences). Since I always choose to limit myself to a smaller suitcase, every square inch is valuable to me. While there are some features that I would like to have in a smart suitcase such as the USB port and the Bluetooth-enabled gps tracking, my concern would be that the battery and electronics built into the bag would take up a significant amount of the limited volume. I think most of the more complex features would be most valuable for suitcases intended to be checked instead of carried on.

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