The Smart Traveller’s Bluetooth Guide

By sapna kapoor| Express News Service | Published: 09th September 2018 05:00 AM
Image used for representational purpose only.

The world is getting smarter. So is travel in the $32 billion global luggage industry. The keyword in modern technology—innovation and smart luggage—is making travel easier for millions of passengers. The big boys in this expanding market are Samsonite, Delsey, Bluesmart, Raden, Away, Trunkster, and Lugloc. The upmarket and super-expensive luggage brand Rimowa has introduced electronic bag tags on its suitcases.

The company has partnered with Lufthansa and Eva Air whose automated check-in stations now accept drop-offs. New player Raden’s luggage comes with a built-in scale and Bluetooth proximity sensors. The locations indicator on the stylish cases alerts the owner when the suitcase is about to come off the carousel. The Away travel brand launched by former business executives Steph Korey and Jen Rubio has taken the US market by storm. Its bags are smart, with a tough polycarbonate shell and built-in USB charger with starting prices as low as $225.  

Companies are meeting long-standing and unfulfilled needs with technological breakthroughs, producing smart luggage that goes the extra mile. Last year Modobag, the world’s first rideable travel bag made its appearance in hybrid luggage avatar; half suitcase and half motorised vehicle. Should the traveller arrive late at the check in counter and is afraid the gates would close before getting there, the bag turns into a vehicle with the press of a smart button.

It has a built-in memory-foam cushioned seat, bearing-based steering column, touch-control dashboard, foot pegs and a dual-braking system to prevent an...ahem...airport crash. At top speed, the 200-watt electric motor can propel the suitcase rider—with a maximum weight of up to 260 pounds—at six miles an hour, topping at 8 mph on a single charge, thanks to dual USB charging ports. An optional GPRS/GSM tracking system connected to an iOS or Android app ensures it doesn’t get lost or stolen.

The Scoocase brand converts its suitcases into electric stand-up scooters with power banks. Antler USA’s Titus brand and the Delsey Paris Pilot 4.0 feature built-in USB ports with cables connected to a dedicated power bank compartment. Newcom suitcases too come with self-weighing luggage. 

Lost luggage is a travel curse that has airlines scrambling; according to Forbes, around 18 percent of airlines offers tech that enable passengers to report missing bags through self-service kiosks and smartphone apps; last year was the target for around two-thirds of airlines to offer such services. Luggage companies intend on beating the airlines to it. Big brands like Samsonite and Away are including tracking systems, automated locking and Bluetooth in their “smart luggage”.

They sell bags and suitcases with cutting-edge tech such as Wi-Fi hotspots, SIM cards, GPS, Bluetooth, RFID, built-in batteries, and digital scaling. According to Infoholic Research, the ‘smart luggage’ market is expected to reach $2,353.2 million by 2022, growing at around 26.4 percent. BlueSmart’s cases have found a place in the Robb Report list by focusing more on the destination than the contents.

Its BlueSmart app ensures the luggage can be remotely locked, weighed, and located anywhere in the world. The USB charge port has enough charge to power a smartphone five to six times. Even the hard shell body is tech-friendly since it is water-resistant and includes softly padded pockets to keep electronics safe. At present, America has the edge followed by Asia Pacific. Smart city projects and increasing FDI in regional markets have impacted the travel industry as well. 

However, International Air 
Transport Association has banned smart luggage on all passenger flights, anticipating terrorist threats. Jet Airways has ordered that the batteries on all smart luggage should be removed and carried in cabin baggage. This hasn’t stopped companies from working on more innovations to turn flights of fancy into reality.

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