New 'smart' suitcase will help travellers avoid various luggage-related problems, its designers claim.
Bluesmart is a hand luggage suitcase synced to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to control it from your mobile. It features a built-in scale indicating its weight and whether it meets your airline's baggage requirements on your phone screen when you pull on the handle of the suitcase.
The four-wheeled suitcase, priced at $US235 ($A267), reportedly measures 54.6cm x 35.6cm x 22.9cm, and meets the hand luggage size requirements for Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Jet2, Monarch and easyJet, but not for Ryanair.
The suitcase can be unlocked from your phone and automatically locks itself when its built-in proximity sensors detect it is no longer near you. The app will also alert you when someone attempts to open it. Its lock has been approved by Travel Sentry, a global standard for travel security, which allows it to be opened and relocked by security officials after inspection during airport screenings in the US, Canada and many other international airports, according to the its website.
If you do lose your luggage or it is re-routed to a new destination, it can be tracked by a proximity heat map on your phone telling you where it is within the Bluesmart Network, which will eventually "cover the whole planet" as the network grows after further development of the location software. The app can also tell you the last recorded location of the suitcase.
Other features include a powerful battery charger that can charge your phone six times over and charge up to two devices simultaneously, as well as a compartment at the front of the suitcase designed especially to protect and allow easy access to your laptop and tablet as needed.
Bluesmart could be linked to your calendar to remind you about when and even what to pack for any upcoming trips. The app also provides various bits of information, including real-time reports on miles travelled, airports visited and more. The app is currently available for iPhone and Android users. Apps for smart watches are also being developed.
Bluesmart was created by a team of New York-based industrial designers, engineers and entrepreneurs who put the idea on the website Indiegogo yesterday to raise funds for its production.
It is the latest in a series of unusual suitcase designs that have been proposed in recent months.
Last week, a Chicago-based entrepreneur introduced a suitcase that could be converted into a chair. The four-wheeled suitcase by neXstep luggage comes with a pull-out handle that can be detached and unfolded into a backless chair. The seat can also function as a luggage rack for unpacking or packing your suitcase - handy for those who have been over-optimistic about what they can get away with as hand luggage.
The City Cab, a motorised suitcase that doubles a scooter, surfaced earlier this year. The three-wheeled electrical suitcase, fitted with a steering grip, brakes, safety lights, a horn, a GPS device and a theft alarm, carry up to two passengers, seated on its side, travelling up to a speed of about 20 km per hour and a maximum distance of about 60km.
One man also invented a chair that can be "magically" folded into a small suitcase in seconds. The wooden suitcase, which was said to have been designed by a magician, weighs 4.6kg and is priced at $US299 ($A341) at China Magic.
A robotic suitcase that allows for hands-free luggage was introduced in 2012. The Hop is self-driving and allows travellers to walk unburdened by the weight of their bags.
The prototype connects to a Bluetooth signal from its owner's phone and rolls after it, a short but constant distance behind. If the signal is lost - a real possibilty should the traveller have to run for a flight - the suitcase locks to make itself secure.
It then makes the phone vibrate, alerting the owner to the fact it has stopped. The bags can be programmed to follow each other in a line and there are hopes that they could one day replace the need for conveyor belts and luggage carts in airports.
The Telegraph, London