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A smart luggage wave is here

Travelers are asking for backpacks  and suitcases  powered  by WiFi, GPS   4G and Bluetooth  for  remote locking,  real-time tracking and theft prevention. Yet the  biggest brands  have nothing  smart to offer, leaving the field open to newcomers. When will they catch up ?
From Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore,May 25 2019: It is a sight one can increasingly see  in major Indian airports.  As hundreds of passengers, crane their  necks  at the baggage belts in the arrival hall, trying to locate their checked in  bags, a few  cool guys stand  away from the crowd, looking at their smart phones.
Suddenly a beep  sounds on their hand sets and they saunter  over to the exact spot where their bag has emerged. Jadoo? No, just  one of the technologies of smart  luggage that frequent flyers are getting used to.  And it is simple:  a  small Bluetooth tag is fitted to the bag and linked to an app on the owner's mobile phone. When the bag comes within Bluetooth range, the phone beeps and  the owner follows the intensity of the beep to locate the bag.
You can buy these tags for Rs 500 but increasingly  travel luggage comes  with built- in Bluetooth tags for location and sometimes GPS  transmitters that help the owner  track the bag at all times -- and  locate it if lost or stolen. 
Professionals who carry laptops  prefer bags with a built -in USB port  connected to a power bank inside so  that  they can recharge phone or laptop without opening the bag.   
Tracking your bag -- and weighing it
And air travelers always have a worry. Is my bag within the free check-in  weight limit?   The answer is difficult if you have done last minute shopping.  But a smart bag will solve the problem. Recently launched in India, the Carriall brand of   air  travel bags in 20 inch and 24 inch size,   has  a weighing scale built into the handle -- in addition to   an anti-loss  tracker.
Another  smart bag maker, selling online only  -- 3G --offers  'Atlantis'  overnight cabin bags with USB,    and a backpack  with USB charger as well as Bluetooth distance alert   -- and the prices between Rs3000 - Rs 5000 compete  with non smart  luggage that   India's leading  travel accessories players like VIP, Samsonite, American Tourister etc  offer  today.   None of their India catalogues  offer any smart luggage -- yet, though internationally Samsonite sells  the $ 400  GeoTrakR  where you can track your bag through mobile phone any where .
Global  surveys  emphasize smart luggage market
Perhaps  leading Indian travel goods players have not read the latest ( 2019) Passenger IT Insights  insights by SITA, the global travel tech company. The survey says: "Passengers are happier when technology smooths their way – especially when it comes to tracking their baggage via mobile apps. Mobile notifications during luggage collection have resulted in the biggest technology-driven improvement in satisfaction during air travel (8.6%),. The research involved passengers from 19 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, representing over 70% of global passenger traffic."
Another  survey by  InnovateInsights: Global Smart Luggage Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023 says: "The market is expected to grow on account of growing penetration of Internet of Things (IoT),. Features such as traceability and advanced locking system are credited to the increasing use of such products."
Bag with built-in SIM
One premium international brand  that Indian travelers  are forced to buy in places like Singapore or  Gulf states is  BlueSmart which   costs Rs 50,000 for a  22 inch hard bag   and  includes a 10,000 mAh charger  and a built-in  4G SIM so that you can remotely lock and unlock the bag using your phone.
|While the showrooms of  leading Indian luggage makers are still offering non smart  bags,   you can buy many of the  newer smart bags online at places like Amazon. There is hardly any marketing being done -- though last week  Carriall formally launched its smart bags  and  has used celebrity endorsements on YouTube by  Page 3 personalities  like  Shahid Kapoor   and  Disha Patani to reach their target audience of the Young and Restless.
Solar-powered bag
This  Kingsons “Beam” Backpack from  lifestyle accessories leader  William Penn  provides up to 9 watts and a peak current of 1.7 amps through a solar charger. Now you can travel freely, set up your “office” in a park or garden and charge your daily essentials in the most environmentally friendly manner.  The bag also offers water resistant zipper, USB charging adapter, voltage stabilizer, RFID safe security pocket, magnetic chest strap and quick access water-bottle storage.   Prices start at Rs 18,000.
Meanwhile  new brands are being offered to Indian customers everyday -- Uberpack  recently launched a range of travel bags including an imitation leather laptop bag with 10,000 mAh powerbank for less than Rs 5000.  
The traditional   luggage sector   seems not to have noticed: but a smart  new garam hava  is sweeping through the business and  unless they respond and 'smarten' their  offerings, they may be overtaken by  brash, young players who  seem to know just what tech-friendly travelers are asking for.




    


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