According to the Department of Transportation, tens of thousands of bags are mishandled by U.S. airlines every month. Internationally, SITA reports the number of mishandled bags in 2013 was about 21.8 million. With the advanced technology available today, start-up Bluesmart believes we can do better–starting with a smarter redesign of our carry-on luggage.
The self-proclaimed “geeks that share a passion for travel, technology and design” from New York decided to reimagine a suitcase for this century. While Bluesmart is not the first to propose GPS-tracked bags, they have added all kinds of built-in technology features that make the concept appealing. Through a connected mobile app, travelers can track the bag’s proximity, digitally lock and unlock it, check the bag’s weight, show travel data and track routes. In addition, the highly connected carry-on has a quick-access, specially designed compartment to store and protect your laptop and tablet.
Here’s a rundown of the carry-on’s features:
- Digital Lock: Users can lock and unlock the suitcase from the phone app. The proximity sensors automatically lock the bag when it is separated from the user. You’ll even receive notifications if anyone tries to open it, and you can share access with those you trust.
- Digital Scale: Users are able to see the exact weight of the suitcases on the app and whether it’s approved by the airline to carry on, so you’ll know whether you need to unload a few items before toting it to the airport. Lifting up the handle activates the scales that are built into the suitcase –- with the weight displayed on the app.
- Distance Alerts: To avoid loss and theft, users are notified on their smartphones via SMS when they are leaving their suitcases behind.
- Location Tracking: The GPS technology in the suitcase shows you where the bag is at any given moment so it can be found when lost or re-routed. You can locate your Bluesmart with a proximity heat map and receive a reminder of the last recorded location.
- Trip Stats and Data: Users are able to see trends in their travel habits (miles travelled, airports visited, time per state/country) and sync with other services for smart notifications and reminders. Entering your flight details in the app will give you its current status, and the app will also scope out your destination’s weather to help you pack.
- Battery charger: The bag’s built-in battery allows users to recharge their devices up to six times while on the go. Two devices can be charged simultaneously. That’s a refreshing feature when you’re on the hunt for a spare outlet at the crowded airport over the holidays!
Bluesmart currently works with iOS and Android, and they’re working to develop apps for smart watch users to control the suitcase right from their wrists. Priced at $235 (or as low as $195 for early adopters), the product will be launching in one size and color: 21.5” x 14” x 9” (approved by all major airlines to carry on) in “Graphite Black.” To reduce the weight, the carry-on components are made with light materials like polycarbonate and aluminum. While the average carry-on’s weight on the market are 8.2 lbs, Bluesmart’s current prototypes are closer to 8.5 lbs. With funding, they hope to make the final product a bit lighter.
To ensure the suitcase complies with travel industry standards, they’ve flown with prototypes all over the world many times. All features are TSA-approved. Amazingly, the Bluesmart team reached their crowdfunding goal of $50,000 in just two hours and one minute on Indiegogo. While there are definitely technical challenges in creating such a device, the creators say they already have a functional prototype and expect to ship the first smart bags next summer. They say it’s not about the destination, but the journey…so why not make it a little easier by traveling with a super smart bag?
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