Technology: Smart Suitcases for Tech Savvy Travelers
What is Smart Luggage?
There are several brands of smart luggage out there. The brands you might encounter more frequently are Raden, Bluesmart, and Away. Other brands include Horizn and Néit. There are some differences in features and price points, but most offer the following:
- Apps that connect to your luggage using Bluetooth
- Features that include proximity alarms to warn you if you are at a specific gate and your bag is somewhere else, distance indicators, the ability to weigh contents, and the means to charge your portable electronics on the go.
Depending on how much time you spend traveling each week and how much use you would get out of the various apps, this new smart technology might appeal to you.
- Most brands offer checked bag and carry-on sized bags. They feature TSA-approved battery packs to allow you to charge your device on the go. This might be helpful if you dash frequently from the plane to a taxi, or if crowds make finding a charging station impossible. There is a charging cable in the bag in many models – Raden offers USB ports next to the bag’s handles, which is very handy. Some products have battery packs that can be removed from the suitcase, allowing you access when your bag is stashed in the hold or baggage compartment.
- Many offer a weight sensor, which is especially handy if you check your baggage frequently and need to know if your bag meets the airline’s weight limits. To use this feature, you calibrate it with the bag empty, pack and pick it up to have the sensor give you a weight reading.
- Some offer a companion app for flight information (gate, departure time, weather alerts, etc.), which also includes a sensor that lets you know how far away the bag is located. The sensor might be helpful if you are waiting at a luggage carousel hoping your bag made a tight connection. Most frequent fliers have a slew of apps on portable devices that can deliver flight information, so this particular app might be redundant for many business travelers.
- Drawbacks include the price and potential issues with TSA. You will pay about $300 or more for a carry-on and $400 and upward for larger pieces. Although TSA has approved these bags, there is always the chance that this new type of bag may puzzle some TSA workers.
Smart luggage can offer some handy features to busy travelers. You might wish to check out the possibilities if you like exploring the latest in personal tech – and if you are willing to pay significantly more for your luggage. Also consider that if you usually travel with carry-ons only, many of the bells and whistles smart bags offer duplicate those on your smart phone or tablet. Airlines have made it easier to recharge electronics in-flight, so the battery pack features are less important than they might have been a few years ago. Also, the location finder feature is redundant if your bag is a carry-on and is stowed close at hand.
Alternatively, you might decide to sit it out and wait for the second generation – and less expensive range – of smart bags. Manufacturers are expected to continue to add features, including screens that replace barcode airline tags, more location-finding options, and locks that will only respond to a TSA key.