The world is full of smart wallets, phones, headphones, pens, furniture, jewelry items, etc. Technology today has immersed itself in everything around us. Simple tasks to complicated ones have become easy to perform. The market is flooded with tech gadgets. Even your day starts with technology when you pick up your smartphone when you wake up. And then, there’s Alexa/Siri to list the tasks you need to do for the day with their cheerful robotic voices.
So, the point is technology is everywhere, literally, and we are unfortunately pretty dependent on it. No, scratch that; technology has become an indispensable part of our lives, and we are doomed. Or are we? Despite this dependency, technology has made our lives far better, more efficient, and time-saving. So, why would one of the most important travel gadgets lag behind in this innovative new world? Have you ever heard about smart luggage? Let’s see what they are and if they are worth all the hype in this technically evolved world.
What is smart luggage?
Smart luggage came into existence a few years back. Smart luggage is technologically enhanced and modified luggage to make it more efficient. In addition, it offers attractive features other than the essential charging capability like LED lights, fast-charging USB-C ports, etc.
A brief history
Smart luggage items have come a long way from being introduced as device-charging bags by boutique startups. And after the first few years of success and increased demand, even mainstream major manufacturers started developing their lines of smart luggage. As a result, it transformed from a luxury item to a must-have commodity for the tech-savvy.
However, it faced a drastic setback in 2018 when the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) banned smart carry-on luggage in an airplane, except for those with removable Lithium-Ion batteries. The reason was that the batteries inside the bags caused a risk of an explosion inside an aircraft. Due to this, many brands closed up shop and stopped manufacturing these luggage items, facing significant losses. Raden was a small but successful smart luggage startup among the companies that shut down. But, many other companies adapted by working around the government’s decree and altering their smart carry-on luggage designs. Hence, the second generation of smart luggage items was born.
What does smart luggage do?
As mentioned above, technology has reached every aspect of our lives. And so, even the luggage industry hasn’t lagged. Thus, in addition to keeping your identity safe, reducing the issue of lost nags, and keeping your gadgets charged, technology has made it possible to travel smarter and smoother. Here are some of the unique features that a smart bag has to offer –
- Charging feature – It is pretty annoying to locate a charging point to charge your devices before you board a plane, train, or bus for your journey. And although many transport systems offer charging ports, sometimes they aren’t in a working condition or are absent in some cases. Hence, a piece of luggage with charging capability is a big bonus. Fortunately, almost all these bags come with inbuilt power banks. Of course, the battery capacity varies according to the manufacturers and brands, with some offering several USB ports with different power outputs to charge various gadgets. Isn’t that just amazing?
- Tracking – You can easily track your luggage via the companion app if you own smart luggage. Additionally, the exact tracking method varies between different brands. Consequently, some manufacturers use GPS tracking, whereas some use GPRS, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. However, the principle is the same between all brands of these bags. Hence, even if you leave your luggage unattended at an airport or a railway station, there is always a way to track and locate it.
- In-built luggage scale – Although traveling by plane saves a lot of your precious time, apart from being expensive, it requires a load of rules and regulations that passengers have to follow—for instance, the strict weight limits set on both the cabin and check-in luggage. And, when you are packing in a hurry or frequently traveling, weighing the bag every time is a hassle. And so is coughing up those extra Bens at an airport luggage check-in! So, to tackle such issues, some innovative bags have in-built scales in their handles. Thus, when you pick up the suitcase, it will show how heavy the load is, which helps meet those strict weight requirements for luggage at an airport.
- Proximity tracking – Some smart suitcases give alerts or notifications to owners if they move too far from the luggage. The feature is beneficial for people who often forget their bags at places like in a cab (which is hard to do, considering their size sometimes but there you have it). In that case, the tracker notifies the user after a certain distance. Thus, this feature enables the forgetful owner to contact the cab company and retrieve the bag. And that’s a relief from the days when your bags get lost for good.
- RFID-blocking compartments – Most smart luggage items come equipped with an RFID-blocking (Radio Frequency Identification) compartment. In addition, an RFID-blocking pocket needs electricity and protects any sensitive personal data like bank details, etc., from getting leaked. Furthermore, it prevents someone from stealing your data with a simple scanner, which is pretty easy. Thus, keeping any credit cards and phones in this pocket is totally safe as they will not be readable from the outside.
Motorized smart luggage
Besides these capabilities, some smart bags offer a ride, literally. No, this goes beyond smart luggage that follows you around. Interestingly, this is a piece of smart luggage that carries you around. There wouldn’t be a kid who hasn’t taken a ride on a rolling suitcase like it’s their favorite bike. Hence came the era of Modobag, which has been making motorized luggage since 2016.
The Modobag isn’t a piece of smart luggage that follows you; instead, it gives rides through airports. The world’s first motorized, innovative, and connected carry-on takes its users to their destination almost three times faster than walking. The motorized suitcases have a speed of five mph indoors and eight mph outdoors. And even though they make a massive dent in your pockets, they are worth every cent. Additionally, these motorized bags come with removable batteries. Therefore, they follow the TSA regulations for traveling with a smart bag. However, many users have complained of being stopped often by airport security for carrying motorized luggage. So, it’s inconvenient to travel with one despite its unique advantage.
The bottom line
So, the question remains – is it worth purchasing smart luggage? Well, it depends on a person’s personality, profession, and requirements. And since a majority of the population nowadays are technologically-dependent, you can guess what the majority of them will answer. The reason is that these tech fanatics carry their gadgets even while traveling. And all these devices need charging to operate – a laptop, a smartphone, a camera, an e-reader, and even smartwatches. So, smart luggage sure carries an appeal. And the tracking, proximity alert, and other unique features are not something to disregard.
Additionally, you do not have to check in your bag if it meets the carry-on size and weight requirements. But, sometimes, when the airplane’s upper compartments are not empty, you need to have it checked in. Consequently, you need to remove the battery and carry it as a personal item. So if you are interested, here are some smart luggage brands allowed onboard in 2022 –
- Away luggage
- Planet Traveler
- Genius Pack
- Arlo Skye
However, smart luggage is not for you if you are not a tech-savvy individual and are traveling just for leisure. Also, when traveling to a remote area where the network is poor or when going camping or into the wilds of the Amazon rainforest (for example), some of these fantastic smart luggage features might not work. In which case, carrying one is a moot point. The reason is that you have to charge the power bank regularly. Also, the hassle of constantly removing the battery pack at security checks can get annoying after some time. In addition, these luggage items carry a hefty price tag and are expensive to maintain and repair. So, it’s safe to say that the worth of buying a smart bag weighs heavily on individual interest and nothing else. If you are planning to buy a smart luggage you must go through some tech reviews by reliable sources.