Your current suitcase? It’s an idiot. A big dumb box of shirts on wheels, the likes of which now teeter on the precipice of redundancy thanks to one of the latest technology trends. Smart luggage is a growing business, and 2016 has seen the launch of a slew of intelligent suitcases packed to the zippers with gadgets, chargers and GPS tracking. It’s an arena largely fuelled by crowdfunding efforts, with some of the weirder travel inventions including a bag that follows you around like a sick puppy, and one that crawls up staircases on built-in tank tracks.
The Bluesmart Black Edition is one of the more sensible smart luggage options. It doesn’t follow you up and down staircases, but it’s a carry-on sized case with an embedded sim card that can be tracked anywhere in the world using 3G and GPS. I took it for a test drive on a recent trip to Dublin, during which it would send plaintive notifications any time I wandered more than fifteen feet away from it. “Don’t leave me behind!” it routinely cries, making it the only suitcase on the market with serious abandonment issues. As somebody who’s caused a security alert at Gatwick by leaving a bag on the train, it’s a helpful feature, especially for those travellers whose cases are at constant risk of being destroyed in controlled explosions.
As well as pleading for you not to forget about it – a problem simultaneously solved by the Black Edition’s €600 price tag, which should prompt you to chain the thing to your waist – the case locks itself once it senses it’s left your side, unlocking again with a polite “snikt” when you return. The accompanying app can weigh the bag too, if you’re concerned that your belongings might exceed an airline’s weight limit.
But by far the most useful feature, and the one you’ll likely see adopted by “dumb” cases in future, is the Bluesmart’s mammoth battery. A 10,400mAh juicebox sits just underneath the handle, powering an external USB port that can charge a phone multiple times over. I’ve increasingly found that weedy in-car chargers can’t cope with the energy demands of newer phones, charging them more slowly than they drain, so hoying the Bluesmart into the backseat and using it as a battery back-up on long drives is a helpful alternative.
Underneath the smart-features it’s a decent suitcase. It’s made of something called Makrolon, a space age material you’d struggle to tell apart from whatever suitcases at this price are typically made of. And it rolls very nicely too: in tests I bowled the Bluesmart along the tiled floor at Heathrow arrivals for a good 30 feet before a policeman stared at me and I stopped.
There are better, cheaper, dumber cases, but the Black Edition offers the right mix of gimmicks, useful design and build quality. The stand-out feature – global location tracking – is something you don’t need right up until the moment that you do, but the rest of this case’s gadget-infused innards make it an ideal choice for travellers looking to upgrade one of the few remaining objects they own without a microchip in it.