Along with wearables, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, smart luggage is part of the travel industry’s future, according to exhibitors at the CES 2020 trade show.
From motorized luggage to suitcases equipped with WiFi hot spots, various exhibitors showcased products made to take the stress out of airport travel.
“Travel and tourism is a new focus area at CES 2020,” said Steve Koenig, vice president of research at the Consumer Technology Association, which sponsors CES. “Travel and tourism has become a focal point for consumer tech and this confluence of different technologies and it really adds up to smarter and safer travel.”
Some Chicago entrepreneurs are trying to make the trip through the airport easier — and fun.
The Modobag is billed as the first ridable, motorized carry-on luggage.
“We get a lot of smiles when we’re riding them at the airport,” said Kevin O’Connell, one of the device’s inventors.
He got the idea when his children rode on a suitcase he was dragging.
“I thought, ‘Why can’t we ride our luggage and get to where we’re going faster and with less stress?’” he said.
He collaborated with his motorcycle-riding friend, Boyd Bruner, to come up with a TSA-compliant suitcase with a battery, a steering mechanism with hand brakes that can cruise at 7 mph with a range of about seven miles.
The standard Modobag is 17 inches tall and a model built for people with disabilities is 2 inches taller. The standard version sells for $1,495 and the taller one is $1,695.
It weighs less than 20 pounds and has a capacity of 1,700 cubic inches — about 85 percent of a standard carry-on bag since space is taken up by the easy-to-remove lithium battery pack and the telescoping steering wheel. It easily fits in an airliner overhead bag compartment.
The aluminum chassis and nylon shell can support a 260-pound rider — maybe more, as demonstrated by retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal who showed up at the Modobag booth Tuesday and rode one. O’Neal bought five of them.
O’Connell said the removable battery, which takes about two hours to charge, has a battery voltage gauge and two USB ports that can be used to charge other devices.
“It definitely turns heads at the airport,” O’Connell said. “It’ll change your whole travel experience.”
The newest smart suitcase model from Samsara Luggage integrates internet of things technology and GPS. A smart unit near the handlebars can charge mobile phones and laptops, and includes a Wi-Fi hotspot. Samsara’s Next Gen luggage with hot spot retails for $399 on the company’s website.
The Scoocase comes with a built-in electric scooter that can reach speeds up to 15 miles per hour. The luggage comes with a built-in engine and steering system, along with a bluetooth-connected app that can share metrics like speed, distance traveled, location, power consumption, temperature and more. A representative from the Las Vegas-based company said they plan to start a Kickstarter for the device soon.
The Lil Flyer ride-on luggage lets kids pretend they’re racing across the airport on a motor bike. The device fits kids up to 50 pounds, has light-up wheels and is set to launch on Kickstarter in February.
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