Update on May 21, 2018: Raden, citing new airline guidelines on smart luggages with batteries, has shut down its business. While it is fulfilling existing orders, it is not accepting refunds or exchanges, and support will be limited.
In the last two years, several startups have emerged with the goal of creating the ultimate smart luggage. These bags are chockfull of tech designed with today’s travel needs in mind, such as portable power and connected apps. A company called Raden is the latest to introduce luggage with brains, although CEO and founder Josh Udashkin doesn’t see himself as a tech startup, but a luggage company that’s utilizing tech to reinvent how people travel, and it starts with luggage that looks deceptively familiar, but discreetly intelligent.
Technology in disguise
At launch, Raden (a Japanese term to describe a form of decorative lacquered art) is introducing a 22-inch carry-on (A22, $295) and a 28-inch check case (A28, $395). Both are hard cases (available as a set for $595) made from a water-resistant polycarbonate (Makrolon), which provides strength without adding a lot of weight; the cases are 7.5 and 11.2 pounds, respectively. Available in black, white, navy blue, hunger green, light purple, light pink, and light blue, the bags’ rubberized waterproof zippers are color-matched to the shell. The rigid size of the 22-inch model is guaranteed to meet all carry-on rules. Udashkin said he opted not to go with a soft case because many people are moving toward hard cases for their next luggage purchases, according to trend research.
The sleek, minimalist design isn’t just stunning, it also hides the embedded technology. There is a 7,800mAh modular battery that powers two USB ports on the exterior of the bag, which can fully recharge a phone roughly four-times over. The unassuming handle also has a built-in scale that tells you how heavy the bag is after you fill it up. And Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) allows the bag to talk to your phone, and helps you locate it should it get lost.
“Everything about the bag is supposed to be stealth,” Udashkin told Digital Trends. “[What’s inside] is between you and the bag.”
Rechargeable batteries, USB ports, and even integrated scales, in the world of smart bags, aren’t particularly novel (you could say it’s not reinventing any wheels), but from a technology standpoint, the Raden mobile app (iOS only at launch) is perhaps the bag’s killer feature. Using Public APIs from other services, the app provides pertinent information for a travel itinerary: security check-in wait times, weather, traffic, public transportation, flight details, and Uber hailing. Tell the app the airline you’re flying and it will let you know if your bag is overweight. Raden also has a team that provides customer support, which you can access through the app, when issues like a lost bag arise. The app can pair up to 10 bags.
While Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) lets you quickly locate the bag when you come near it. BLE is similar to iBeacon, where your iPhone performs a function when it comes near a transmitter, like the Starbucks app popping up on a lock screen when you enter a shop; it’s a short-distance technology that’s limited to 160 feet. That’s not helpful if your bag is stranded in a different terminal, though. ’s vision is that if there are more Raden bags floating around, it could create a crowdsourced GPS mesh network that covers a greater area. In concept it sounds great, but we doubt millions of Raden bags will pop up at airports overnight. But adds that more and more airports will start adding more beacon-based transmitters at airports soon, which the bags could utilize as a means of location awareness.