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Dude, where’s my luggage? With smart luggage, you’ll always know

There’s nothing quite like a relaxing trip to Bali or Singapore; unless of course your luggage winds up in Hong Kong or stays put in Australia. Fear not! A number of suitcase manufacturers and technology companies may just have the solution: smart luggage. We’re not talking designer wares here, but rather techno-smart travel cases.

The idea has captured imagination so much that a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo surpassed its $US50,000 target within hours of posting.

BlueSmart is the “world’s first smart, connected carry-on”. According to the site, “BlueSmart is a high-quality carry-on suitcase that you can control from your phone”, through an app. The app allows you to “lock and unlock it, weigh it, track its location, be notified if you are leaving it behind and find out more about your travel habits, as well as  charge your phone six times over with a built-in battery”.

Still at the prototype stage, the connected carry-on has attracted attention from all quarters and (at time of writing) acquired over $US270,000 since its October 20 launch! As things currently stand, it will ship around the world at a cost of approximately $US450 with a $US40 shipping fee for international requests. for A special edition version is set to retail at about $US550.

A pledge of $US235 will land you an earlybird case, with the company planning to start shipping in June 2015.

Of course, BlueSmart is a carry-on, meaning it won’t protect your checked items. Other technologies, however, just might.

FastTrack is a Dutch company that has created eTrack and eTag devices to help secure your checked-in luggage throughout its journey, while also speeding up the check-in process. According to FastTrack, the devices let you check-in your bags at home (using the digital luggage display called eTag) and also track and trace them throughout the voyage (using a tracking device called eTrack).

eTrack pinpoints the location of your bags through assisted GPS, that is general localisation through GSM followed by precise localisation through GPS; where this is unavailable, they use GSM triangulation.

Its partners are Air France-KLM, KPN, Samsonite and Schiphol Airport Amsterdam.

At the moment the devices are not available to the public, but Air France/ KLM passengers will be able to pre-order them “soon, with delivery scheduled for the end of 2014”. The company is also preparing to open up pre-ordering to the general public and is in talks to partner with other airlines around the world.

According to Hugo Rütter, CMO and Product Development for FastTrack, the differences between BlueSmart and eTrack and eTag are numerous. Firstly, he says, the FastTRack solution works for any bag, and passengers can transform their existing bags into connected devices. “Track and trace via Bluetooth is a very limited solution as range is max 100 metres, so whenever it is out of range of a Bluetooth transmitter it is simply lost. We use GPS, GSM and Bluetooth so bags are always traceable nearly everywhere on the planet,” he says.

In addition, Rütter highlighted the patented on/off switching technology in eTrack and eTag that switches the devices off before take off automatically and back on after landing to meet worldwide air safety regulations.

“We work together with airlines and existing luggage software companies to integrate with their systems, offering even the option of quicker rerouting if misplaced,” he says.

Tesla Martinez, Director of International New Business Development at Focus Brands International, and a frequent traveler, finds the notion of connected luggage quite appealing.

“Smart Luggage offers the peace of mind that one’s business belongings and work attire will arrive more safely,” she says.

“In countries where luggage has higher propensity to be mishandled or stolen, it allows the owner to confirm its movement and the hands its passing [through]. Being able to lock and unlock remotely also provides the owner the power to control who and when it is being opened.”

From the support obtained for BlueSmart and increasing industry interest from companies around the world, it seems that smart luggage may soon be available to all travellers – in certain cases arriving as early as the end of this year.

Have a safe trip!

About the author

Freelance journalist Bianca Wright has been published in magazines and online publications around the world. A self-confessed geek and lover of all things tech, she spends her spare time searching the web for new gadgets or watching reruns of Star Trek and Firefly.

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