Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

best smart luggage now boarding 110415

Traveling can be a joy or a pain, and the luggage you use to tote your stuff affects that outcome. While manufacturers have made advancements in materials and design, suitcases really haven’t changed much. But luggage is finally getting smarter, and the options for connected suitcases and related gadgets – from startups to market leaders like Samsonite, Rimowa, and Delsey – are beginning to catch hold.

From built-in scales to GPS tracking and mobile apps, these bags won’t make hauling your stuff any lighter, but they could make the experience less harrowing. Below are some of our current and forthcoming favorites.

Bluesmart Smart Carry-On Luggage

We first looked at Bluesmart when it was still an Indiegogo campaign back in 2014. Bluesmart is the first of the super-smart suitcases to actually make it from crowdfunding to delivery. The suitcase’s features set the standard for the next generation of travel gear: The companion iOS or Android app lets you control the TSA-approved lock and its proximity option, which can automatically unlock when you and your phone move into range. The app also displays the bag’s weight thanks to a built-in scale, and it will even tell you if it’s overweight for the specific airline you’re flying – a helpful feature for before you head to the airport. What’s annoying, however, is that you can’t easily loan the luggage to someone, since it’s tied to your account (you will have to contact customer service to re-register it).

Inside, the Bluesmart case hides a 10,000mAh battery with two USB charging ports – one behind the top handle and one in a pocket. That’s enough to charge most new phones more than five times. In addition, the pockets hide a series of dividers designed for conveniently stowing a laptop or tablet. It’s also the perfect size for a weekend trip: 22 inches tall and 14 inches wide. And with the GPS, you’ll know where to find your bag even if the airline manages to lose it.

Read more here.

Buy it now from:
Amazon: $449

Raden

Digital Trends gave a nod to Raden when the company first shared its bags with the public in March 2016. Raden’s carry-on and checked hard case bags look like sleek — but dumb — travel gear. Raden founder Josh Udakin told DT, “Everything about the bag is supposed to be stealth.” The bags hide a 7,800mAh battery, and two 2.1A USB ports make charging devices easy. Raden also included location sensors that link to the phone app, so you’ll know when your bag comes around on the carousel or if someone tries to grab it. The bag’s flexible but tough polycarbonate shell comes in seven colors instead of just the ubiquitous black. At 22 × 9 × 14 inches, the A22 carry-on should fit restrictions for all major airlines, and it comes with a built-in scale to ensure you don’t exceed an airlines weight requirements.

Read more here. 

Buy now from:
Raden: $295

TraxPack

Digital Trends called TraxPack the “smart tank of luggage.” On one side it has a track system that makes it easy to drag up and down stairs. Of course, it comes with some built-in tech, like a GPS tracker, a scale in the handle, and a combination lock with TSA access. Another Kickstarter success story, the carry-ons and the GPS system are now available through the TraxPack website. And the bags come in interesting color combinations to stand out from the black luggage making its way around the carousel.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
TraxPack: $200

Néit Collapsible Suitcase

Not every case has to have a bunch of built-in electronic tech to be smart – or rather, clever. People aren’t in a perpetual state of travel, and the suitcase has to go somewhere when not stuffed with necessities. Néit’s suitcase folds flat for easy storage when it’s empty. The polycarbonate/aircraft-grade aluminum shell folds down to three inches, and even has a carabiner clip so it can hang in a closet. The 360-degree removable wheels are yet another easy-stash feature, so the Néit can fit where other suitcases are a “no.” There are both checked and carry-on options, though the most dramatic change in size is the checked bag – it shrinks by 70 percent to three inches flat. And of course, it has a GPS tracker to keep track of it using the Néit travel app when the bag is out of sight.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Neit: $245-$475

Airbolt

Want to add some security to a bag you already love? That question inspired Airbolt, a Bluetooth-enabled lock that works with almost any bag. Controlled from a smartphone, AirBolt offers a slew of security features, like a proximity alarm that can ring when your luggage gets too far away. Like some other location devices, AirBolt relies on a crowdsourced GPS network, pinging bags based on the last location within range. However, the success of such systems depends on how many people are using it – the more users, the more effective the system. The company’s Kickstarter campaign estimated delivery for August of this year, while its Indiegogo campaign promised December. Unfortunately delivery is a little behind, but the company has kept buyers updated and are diligently working toward sending out a finished — and polished — product. it also says it’s working with the Transportation Security Administration to make it TSA-approved.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Airbolt: $100

Modobag

Why carry your luggage when your luggage can carry you? It can when the luggage is Modobag, a suitcase that doubles as a motor scooter and has a sweet set of features that makes it fit right in at Digital Trends. It has a built-in seat and footrests, so travelers who would rather sit as they make their way through a giant airport complex or the long lines at the Panda Express. The scooter maxes out at a speed of eight miles per hour, and can go about six miles on a charge. Steer with the handle, or pull it up and pull the suitcase on its wheels like a normal bag. Whether ridden or not, it has two USB ports to keep devices charged, and an optional GPS system to keep track of the Modobag itself. The only problem with the Modobag is its weight: 10 pounds empty. At least it has brakes to avoid ramming fellow commuters. It’s set to ship to backers of its Indiegogo campaign in January 2017.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Modobag: $56

Shelfpack

The Shelfpack might be the perfect bag for travelers that want their clothes to stay neat while on the go. It sounds exactly like what it is: a suitcase with built-in shelves that pop up into an open chest of drawers of sorts – a clothing shelf system.  No sifting through the bag or fussing with internal garment bags to find clothes after a long and draining trip. The 26-inch Shelfpack has four internal shelves, three external compartments, and a total storage capacity of 6,700 cubic inches. This bag is already shipping for $349 — a little pricey considering it doesn’t have smart features built in — but it’s basically the only portable closet that meets airport regulations.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Shelfpack: $349 Jet: $349

Rimowa E-ink Case

Following the development of E-ink luggage tags a few years ago, Rimowa added an E Ink Mobius display to a standard hard shell suitcase. Users send info from their phone to the bag via Bluetooth, and the tag shows everything the airline needs: departure and arrival points, a scanable barcode, and even the green E.U. stripe (for travel in the E.U., naturally). The advantage to E-ink is its heartiness and longevity. It doesn’t require a lot of power so users won’t be stuck with yet another power-hungry device while traveling. The displays use a coin cell battery that’s easy to replace, but the screen only uses power when it changes the display and should last for thousands of changes. The display is also shock, moisture, and temperature resistant. Paper tags just aren’t as tough. Further, the Rimowa Electronic tag doubles as a digital boarding pass, letting some passengers check in on the road or from home, via a partnership with Lufthansa. United, EVA Air, Condor, and Thomas Cook are in the process of testing the tags.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Rimowa

Aster

As a backpack this doesn’t fit the traditional luggage description, but it ‘s definitely a bag with brains. The Aster is a backpack designed for cycling trips, with built-in LEDs to make riders more visible on the road. Rear turn signals, a brake light, front lights on the straps, and panel lights on the side make this backpack look like its own rave. Control the turn signals with the Sidekick, a handlebar remote that connects to the Aster with Bluetooth.

The Aster connects to the Lumos Aster App for iPhone or Android, and the app and Sidekick work together to provide anti-theft alerts. An accelerometer in the Sidekick sets off an alarm if moved for more than five seconds. A 4,000mAh battery to keep phones and tablets charged tops off the suite of electronic features, but the pockets were also designed with commuters in mind; a helmet holder, u-lock holder loops, rain cover, and zippered bottle pockets mean the Aster has a place for all the gear you’d need. The larger of the two sizes, the 24L is wide enough to hold a 15-inch laptop. Aside from the smart internals, the entire bag zips open.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
Indiegogo: $109

Bobby

Another cleverly designed backpack, the water-repellent Bobby is good for short trips or the daily commute. It’s designed to be anti-theft, with a recessed zipper impossible for thieves to find and unzip quickly. Made of a material that can’t be easily cut, the Bobby has an integrated USB charging port, rear reflectors, and a transit card pocket in the front strap to make the daily grind easier and safer.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
XD Design: $98

ProGo

progo

It sounds like a bag designed to carry GoPro cameras, and it is — with a few features that fit any smart traveler. A removable shelf that hangs in the closet while travelers are in their hotel (or at home) and a shoe compartment are just two of the ProGo’s specialized compartments. Of course, there are separate pockets for GoPro cameras, with six-piece modular pads held in place with Velcro. There’s even a secret pocket that’s inaccessible to others while the bag is worn. A Bluetooth device tracker lets travelers monitor their bag if they go missing — though some backers have pointed out that it’s no different than other trackers on the market.

Read more here.

Buy now from:
ProGo: $400

1 of 2