Away was among the first startups to shake up the luggage industry in recent years, thanks to the mass appeal of its smartly and attractively designed rolling suitcases. As often happens with a breakout product, Away now has a crop of competitors--each with its own take on smart suitcases. They showed up in droves to try to steal the spotlight at the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual gadget fest in Las Vegas this week.
Here are four of these startups that promise to make traveling with your standard rolling suitcase seem obsolete.
1. Travelmate Robotics
Think dragging your luggage is way too much effort? Travelmate's suitcase traverses the airport on its own. The suitcase autonomously follows you, trailing you like a needy puppy while you strut down the street or through the terminal. It syncs with an app in your phone so it knows who to follow, then combines cameras with ultrasound and infrared to avoid obstacles along the way. And, like any good dog, it responds to your voice and hand signals as well. The suitcase, which starts at $1,100 for the smallest version, has two USB ports to charge your devices, plus a built-in scale to make sure you don't go over the airline's weight limit.
Your gate closes in 10 minutes and you're all the way on the other side of the terminal. Or maybe you're just lazy. Either way, Modobag proposes a solution for you: a $1,500 motorized suitcase. Pop out the foot rests, pull out the handlebar equipped with throttle and a break, climb on board, and leave other travelers in your dust. The suitcase supports passengers up to 260 pounds, zooms along at up to 8 mph, and is small enough to fit in an overhead bin. Thanks to the motor, though, the storage space inside is fairly limited--more akin to a medium duffel bag than one of your larger carry-on suitcases. Inc. took this thing for a spin on the CES floor and, admittedly, it was a lot of fun--especially after a company rep advised me to cut corners faster by leaning into my turns. Wide adoption, though, will mean your already anxiety-inducing airport terminal will suddenly look more like a course from Mario Kart.
Lumzag aims to be the smartest backpack on the market. The bag has a built-in WiFi hotspot and a charging bank for your devices, plus a solar bank to pull extra power from the sun. It's also promises to be incredibly secure: There's built-in global GPS and an alarm you can activate if it goes missing, and you have the option to receive alerts to your phone when someone unzips it. The backpack has a number of convenient design features built in, like a sturdy frame that stays upright when the bag is set down, and a light inside so you're not rummaging through blindly. Lumzag debuted at this year's CES; the company has yet to set a price, and it plans on launching a crowdfunding campaign in the near future, so it's likely a ways away from getting to market.
4. Luggage Teleport
Yes, waiting for your bag at the carousel is annoying. But is it so annoying that you're willing to outsource the task? Luggage Teleport is betting so. Input your flight information and the address where you'll be staying and the startup sends someone to wait at your designated baggage claim for you, then deliver your goods. It'll run you $35 for two bags, plus $10 for each additional piece of luggage. You can track the status of your bags in real time via an app. Perhaps the more useful application: The company will take your bags from your hotel to the airport, so if you explore the city after checkout, you won't need to return to the hotel concierge before heading off to the airport. Luggage Teleport launched in Las Vegas this week.