Luggages not have changed their basic designs in more than 10 years. There is a re-new interest in incorporating technology into future luggages to improve passengers’ travel experience. Two new products are featured in this entry with additional discussion on how new technology can help passengers, airlines and airports.
Passengers are travelling on longer flights and more often. Luggages play a key component of their lives on the road. Four soon to be released products stood out from the rest in marrying technology with ease of use.
Often times, additional fees are charged for a carry on or a luggage that is bigger than the allotted dimension or heavier than the allowable weight limit.
Bluesmart, a new company founded in 2013 is managing these requirements by introducing a smart luggage that would have the following features:
Here is a video Bluesmart put together with its technology:
Trunkster is product that had over US$1.3 million Kickstarter backing. Its uniqueness lies in the zipperless design and incorporating GPS for luggage tracking, removable battery for charging devices and a digital scale.
Airbus unveiled the first version of a new product called Bag2Go which incorporates an RFID chip into a special Rimona that can be controlled by a mobile device and integrates electronic tagging for paperless check-in, along with a scale to weigh contents. Like the BlueSmart and Trunkster, the luggage also features GPS for real-time tracking and self-service drop off at the airport.
On Kickstarter, Barracuda (refer to link for pledge information) introduced a different design with a luggage that is collapsible within 10 seconds and still include a tray for laptop/tablet, a 10,000 mAh charger, a digital scale and optional GPS tracking.
Although designed with the traveller in mind, these new luggage innovations bring new opportunities for airline and airport operators in the future:
- Embedded individual location tracking tags can be integrated with flight information to track and recover lost bags due to irregular operations
- Digital scale could be used to determine if the traveller would have to pay additional fees for any overweight luggages. This can be managed with ease during online check in.
- Digital scale would assist an airline in determining the actual weight their carry ons or luggages more accurately for managing fuel use purposes
- Digital locks offer more security which may decrease the opportunity to temper with luggages during the transport process
- Embedded individual location tracking can increase efficiency for airports to transport luggages from one location (i.e. plane or holding area) to another.
- Misplaced bags can be tracked easily using the imbedded proximity sensors
This luggage has technology that has not been evaluated. As such, there may be a risk that the security framework implemented may not be effective leading to potential opportunities for hackers to gain access.
As well, without airline acceptance of the digital scale technology, the digital scale’s weight should not be completely relied upon by the traveller and additional fees may still be required.
Finally, the standard weight allowed for carryons is 10kg or 22lbs. As many of the luggages above have battery included for charging purposes, their natural weight would be higher than normal (e.g. The Barracuda weighs 3.9kg / 8.5lbs). In this case, convenience might sacrifice weight considerations for personal items.
What Lies in the Future
Expect the following to be included as standard in luggages over the next 5-10 years:
- Carryons will feature a removable battery and ports to charge laptops and mobile devices
- GPS tag which will connect to a mobile device for tracking purposes.
- Digital lock that can be unlocked using a mobile device or a code
- Built in digital scale
- Air compression mechanism to increase space
This is a potential new area for technology and luggage companies to explore. It would be a good idea for luggage manufacturers to work with various airlines and airport operators more closely to ensure their technology would be widely accepted as standards.