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Smart Luggage Eases Travel; Strict Industry Regulation Could Jeopardize the Market


Ever since internet was introduced to the world, it has undergone startling evolution. What began by connecting institutions and businesses for efficient work, no connects everything from our bodies, homes, communities to goods and services and our whole ecosystem. All of these factors are a enough for a ‘perfect storm’- read: Internet of Things (IoT), which has nearly engulfed every ‘thing’ and changed the way we live over the next decade. IoT’s unimaginable vast network where people-to-people, people-to-things, and things-to-things are connected, our living ecosystem is fundamentally changing because not just how decisions are taken, but who makes them and where are those decisions taken will impact our work and homes.

Among other connected things including the buildings we live in, products we buy, the food we eat, the room we sleep in, our food and the soil we grow- everything potentially a part of IoT, key leaders involved in the IoT technology development are looking at the next important step- Smart Luggage . Whether traveling by rail or flight, travelers always have to be careful with their luggage as the fear of bags being stolen, mislaid or harmed in any way always exists.

Smart Luggage Means Never Having to Worry about Your Bags Ever Again

Tag, Track and, Locate: Though carryon baggage lets travelers skip the queue, checking in those bags is time consuming and labor intensive task, as travelers need to print tags, secure them to their bags and drop-off at the check in counters. In a bid to simplify this process, a Germany-based luggage manufacturer rolled out a range of suitcases that comes with an embedded E Ink display. Same size as the standard paper luggage tag, E Ink display gathers data from either supported airline mobile application or the manufacturer’s own app. The airline app then have to simply use its check-in feature and sync it with the electronic tag- helping the airline to drop-off luggage at the dedicated airport counter. The luggage manufacturer also claims that its own app can also be used for initiation as well as switching the tag to contact information mode – making the E Ink display useful even if the airlines or airports do not support electronic tags. Presently available at available at Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt airports, smart luggage tags have major potential.

Missing or permanently lost baggage are a nightmare for travelers. The feeling is sinking to say the least. With advanced IoT based solutions, travelers would never have to worry about losing their bags. With the help of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, data stored in the smart luggage tags can be consistently and accurately captured by scanners utilizing radio waves. This makes way for simple and effective tracking. Travelers are literally omnipresent with their bags at all times- ensuring they have made it on to the plane and unloaded at the other ‘relevant’ final destination. The RFID technology- likely to be used at 344 airports around the world with a success rate of 99.9% after numerous trials coupled with management reporting systems- will make baggage handling efficient.

Secure with a Lock: Considering how easy it is to lock luggage and lose the key to it or forget passwords, advanced ways to smart lock luggage are in contention. Among the contenders: locks that allows users to easily unlock the luggage through a tap on their smartphones, locking and unlocking using fingerprint ID, smart baggage locks with GPS that would enable travelers to check on their bag and ensure it is still locked along with real-time along with notifications when the bag is loaded onto a plane. The smart luggage locks uses Near Field Communication (NFC) NFC and a battery or at times smart locks can also be accessed using a pre-paired NFC smart sticker– that travelers can put in their wallet, in case of non-availability of an NFC-enabled device.

Knock off Weighty-issues: Ceiling on baggage weight is the biggest gripe for flyers. While manufacturers have made advancements in materials and design along with other features such as GPS tracking, many players are beginning to take a hold and have come up with smart inbuilt scale that would indicate- on the phone screen the luggage’s weight- on pulling the handle of the suitcase and if it meets the airline’s baggage requirements.

Remote-controlled Smart Wheels: Even those most luggage have wheels attached to them, travelers still have to trawl it. To further enhance the traveler experience and more it less harrowing, smart luggage that does not need trailing are doing rounds. These smart luggage, having wheels can be controlled by a remote.

Additionally, to get the smart luggage game even more high-tech, a groundbreaking ‘seeing’ suitcase was introduced in the smart luggage market last month, and is billed as the world’s first ever ‘vision-powered carry-on’. Powered by ‘Computer Vision’, the luxury smart luggage recognizes its user and analyzes surroundings. The suitcase is designed to move alongside its user at the speed of 6 mph in “Side Follow” mode. And, in case of an obstruction, the suitcase will stop, drop back and follow from behind.

Smart Luggage That Convert into Beds, Kitchen, and Offices?

Did you ever want to have a bed, kitchen and, work station all combined in your luggage? The answer is in a suitcase that the world welcomed last month, designed by an Australian-born designer. The smart luggage made of aluminum and wood exterior and leather interiors– come in various designs. The smart suitcase can be converted into a work desk and a sleeping bag- with cushions and side frames to keep accessories and belongings. In the next phase, the company is also set to launch a series of smart, luxurious suitcase that will work as a kitchen with foldable chopping table, mini fridge, built-in power supply and drawers for cutlery.

Are Smart Luggage Secure? Multiple Bans, Poor Enforcement, Information Theft to Decelerate Market

The smart luggage is in for some challenges after the US airlines put a ban on lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are what make a luggage ‘smart’- is highly inflammable and could cause a fire break mid-flight. Although, Lithium-ion batteries present in devices like laptops and suitcases are acceptable, the ones present in smart luggage are not owing to the fact that these are often pushed in the overhead cabin. However, to ease this ban, airlines are allowing travelers to carry such smart luggage only after removing the batteries. But this raises two issues: firstly, removing batteries can be an extremely difficult task as it would involve a lot of unscrewing and wire snipping of the smart luggage, and secondly it would be stripped off its ‘smart’ functionality, reducing it to a regular luggage. The ban went in full effect starting early this year leaving a number of companies in a tough spot.  However, poor implementation of this ban- wherein TSA- approved smart luggage are allowed, could add to the pain of manufacturers and could be a major drawback for the smart luggage market, restraining people from buying one. Travelers will be allowed to carry on or check in their smart luggage as long it has removable battery.

Owing to connectivity issues, feasibility of smart luggage is limited to only airports and is expected to be one of the major areas of concern. Additionally, since these products have wires, screws, battery chargers and RFID tags often confuse TSA scanners. Also, security factors such as theft of personal and confidential data including travel itinerary are expected to slow down the smart luggage market growth.

This fallout has definitely affected the smart luggage market and if the restrictions continue, many other smart luggage manufacturers will either start looking for new technological advancements or fold entirely. Although, some manufacturers have already started making onboard batteries modular instead of integrated ones, the full potential of smart luggage is yet to be realized.

from ReadWrite


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