Is the Bluesmart carry-on suitcase the luggage of the future? It certainly could be.
Connect the polycarbonate carry-on to your smartphone, fire up the Bluesmart app, and watch in amazement as the suitcase locks itself at your command, measures its own weight when you pull up on the handle, tracks its own location, alerts you when it's too far away from you (pesky smart-suitcase thieves!), and charges two of your e-devices at a time via a built-in "super-powerful" replaceable battery. There's even a nifty outer pocket perfect for slipping your laptop out easily while going through airport security. The whole thing weighs in at a reasonable 8.5 pounds.
So what's the catch? Obviously, the $270 price tag—plus $20–$100 for shipping—isn't cheap. But the suitcase also isn't exactly finished: The carry-on is still in protoype stage, but it's raised more than 27 times its initial Indiegogo crowd-funding goal of $50,000, which is both promising and indicative that travelers are very enthusiastic about making jetsetting less of a hassle. If all goes according to plan, the company estimates the suitcases will be delivered by next August; we hear two of the founders have moved to China to oversee production during the next few months.
Still interested? To offset the price, you can also use a Bluesmart referral link to get a $20 refund for you and every friend of yours who pre-orders one—rack up multiple orders for a totally free suitcase. (Downside: Your buddies will place the blame squarely on you if the product is a dud.)
Will the Bluesmart deliver on all of its promises? Maybe. The creators are already owning up to the possibility of delays with engineering and software development—the app tracks travel data, like countries visited, in addition to controlling the suitcase. Plus, as Engadget emphasizes, all crowd-funded inventions run the risk of never happening.
Skepticism aside, let's suspend our disbelief and assume it will work and will be widely adopted. Losing your luggage forever might never happen again, thanks to GPS tracking from other travelers' Bluesmart apps. And if you can reliably weigh your suitcase in advance, you'll avoid fees—some airlines have weight limits for carry-ons. (Exceed 35 pounds on Frontier Airlines, for example, and you'll have to pay 50 bucks to gate-check your bag.) If you intend to check Bluesmart, the scale will tell you whether you can stuff that last bottle of Loire Valley pinot noir into your bag without paying Air France $100 (not that we're bitter!). Regarding the strong battery: Let's not forget the non-monetary value of not having to sit on dirty airport carpeting and fight other passengers for the last wall outlet to charge your phone.
Conclusion? Know that if you pony up the cash, you're investing in a dream. But what a dream it is.
Until your Bluesmart arrives, use our favorite tips to track your bag:
• Before you leave the house, take a snapshot of your suitcase with your phone. If your bag does get lost, showing the airline a picture will go much further toward retrieving it than describing it verbally.
• Buy your own portable luggage scale, like the $30 Heys America xScale Touch.
• Get to the airport early. If you check a bag within 30 minutes of your departure time, it may not make it onto the plane.
• ID your bag with your contact information using one of those little paper tags the airlines gives you, plus your own luggage tag, and place an ID card in one of the outside pockets too. Hey, it's better to be safe than sorry.