Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Smart suitcases for the connected age

Bluetooth-enabled locks, GPS tracking and USB ports are among the latest additions to your luggage

By Jane L. Levere  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Beside LugLoc — which uses Bluetooth and GSM technology and costs $70, plus additional search fees — there is Trakdot, whose GSM device texts and emails users the location of their checked suitcase when their plane lands and costs $50, plus an annual service fee of $20.

Franck Dubarry, founder of Lev Technology, said his company would introduce a Smart Unit device this summer that will tell users where their bags are after flights. It will cost $99, plus activation and other fees.

To comply with regulations governing personal electronic devices, the tracking systems are generally designed to automatically shut down once they are stored and to automatically turn back on once a plane lands.

Experts say this new smart baggage represents just the first wave of this equipment.

“Products that make travel easier and better for customers quickly spread throughout the market,” said Michele Marini Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association. “To use recent examples, we’ve seen lightweight bags, expandable cases and four-wheeled luggage rapidly become the new normal,” she said.

And what about that American Tourister commercial with the gorilla (actually, a man in a gorilla suit)? Those commercials lasted 15 years, ending in 1985 — quite durable, as ad campaigns go.

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