Travel may enrich the mind, but it can punish both the body and soul. That level of abuse is often mirrored by luggage that suffers at the hands of airline personnel once compared to a gorilla in an old American Tourister commercial. And while factors such as price and weight may factor in the resilience of luggage, it's clear that there's no shortage of ingenuity being applied to making bags smarter servants to the terrorized traveler. Here are four bag concepts in development to make lugging a bit less less troubling:
Trackase. For some time now, products such as Trackdot have enabled those who have lost connection with their belongings in transit to get a sense of where they are. But why not build that functionality into the bag. The "virtually indestrucible" Trackase comes in three sizes and uses cellular traingulation to determine its approximate position. The company, though, could use some help locating more investment as it has fallen short of its 30,000 Indiegogo funding goal.
Fugu. On the road, bags can hold all of one's worldly possessions, but once you're back home, they can take up a good chunk of a closet. Fugu aims to minimize that with a roller that can hold a few days' worth of clothing but which collapses down to a suitcase when empty. In addition to saving on closet space at home, it can be helpful for trips where shopaholics plan to return with much more than they left with.
Bluesmart. The Trackase isn't the only way to add smarts to a mainstay travel bag. In addition to having GPS for remote location of the roller (when it's outside), the Bluesmart luggage uses Bluetooth to report its own weight. This can help avoid costly overweight luggage fees. One can also lock or unlock luggage via a smartphone or set the luggage to lock automatically when it's out of range, which could be helpful for the absent-minded seeking to avoid a pile of clothes spilling out in a hotel hallway.
Coolpeds. Luggage is designed to accompany on your trip, but not a lot of luggage can take you on one. An exception is Coolpeds, which embeds stowable wheels and a handle to become an electric scooter that charges using solar power. It could be great for speeding through long airport corridors, although a cab is probably a better bet after leaving the airport.
Between improvements to its design and greater intelligence and self-awareness, it may not be long before our luggage decides that we are the travel accessory. That's ok as long as it's willing to let us keep the miles.