What do you get when you combine a suitcase with the latest digital technology?
What can smart bags do that your usual luggage can’t?
All sorts of cool stuff, according to discoveries made at this year’s Travel Goods Showcase in Las Vegas.
In many cases, smart luggage links to your mobile phone via an app, which manages most of the bag’s features.
For instance, you can unlock your bags remotely with your phone or track them wherever and however far they may get away from you.
In some cases, high-tech features are built right into the bag.
For example, you can use your suitcase to recharge mobile devices or to get a party started – several feature speakers that transform a suitcase into a boom box.
The examples below prove innovative travel accessories can combine brains and beauty in one package.
Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1
The people who developed The Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1 say it’ll be the most technologically advanced suitcase available when it goes on the market in November.
Features include a biometric lock that opens with a fingerprint, global tracking, a Bluetooth speaker and lithium power pack.
A digital scale sensor is based in the wheels, so you don’t actually have to lift the case to weigh it.
A downloadable app controls all features and is designed to serve as a PTA – personal travel assistant.
When it hits the market later this year, Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1 will cost $700 for a full-size bag and $600 for the carry-on.
The Andiamo iQ is expected to hit the market this fall.
Among its many smart features are a USB battery charger, removable mobile power pack, remote lock and unlock function, digital scale and an anti-theft system that alerts you via your mobile when the case moves 30 meters away from you.
Available only in carry-on size, the Andiamo iQ will be priced at $599.
If the only smart feature you want is the ability to track your bag, save some money and buy a LugLoc.
All you have to do is purchase the tracking gizmo, which combines GSM and Bluetooth technology, for $70 and put it in your suitcase.
Then, download a $7 app, which comes with five free traces.
With a tap on the app, a map will appear showing the location of your suitcase, regardless of where in the world it is.
If it’s in close range, maybe at the baggage carousel, the Bluetooth will kick in and let you know your luggage awaits.
Another option is to buy a suitcase with the locator already integrated.
The Samsonite GeoTrakR, coming this summer, has built-in LugLoc technology that allows owners to track a piece of luggage’s location anytime, anywhere.
Like LugLoc itself, the device shuts off in flight and doesn’t interfere with avionics.
Samsonite will offer both carry-on and full-size options, ranging from $280 to $400.
A Samsonite GeoTrakR includes 30 free traces for the first year.
Benga 2S Duo 2
Transformation is a popular trend in travel goods this year.
It’s easy to see why the Benga 2S Duo 2 was voted one of the most innovative products at this year’s Travel Goods Showcase.
It’s two suitcases for the price of one.
The Benga 2S transforms from one four-wheeled hard-shell suitcase into two two-wheeled rollers, each sporting one hard side and one soft side.
Each separate bag has its own retractable telescopic hand and a TSA-compliant lock.
As one piece, it fits most carry-on specs.
There’s always the option of checking in half and carrying on half.
Expected for summer release, the price tag will be in the range of $400.
LeTrav Convertible Carrying Case
The LeTrav Convertible Carrying Case takes you from the bike path to the boardroom.
It easily converts from an elegant leather briefcase into a water-resistant backpack.
Amazingly, no matter which inside pocket you put items, contents remain intact and easy to access even after the conversion.
LeTrav cases range from $359 (made with ballistic nylon and leather trim) to a fully tricked out high-end leather briefcase for $895.
TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer
WALTER + RAY’s TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer helps save passengers from having to deal with nasty airplane seatback pockets, which unbeknownst to many are one of the germiest areas of an airplane.
The TAB Organizer solves that problem by tucking right into the pocket.
Designed in both zip sleeve and messenger bag style, the organizer contains six device-sized spaces to hold all your gadgets while inflight.
There’s also a magnetic flap that folds over the outside of the pocket so you don’t forget the TAB upon deplaning.
Harnessing the power of crowd funding, WALTER + RAY raised $17,000 on Kickstarter to fund development of the accessory.
It costs $50 to $150, depending on the material.
Journalist Laura Powell started covering the travel industry for CNN in the 1980s. Her focus is on international travel news and trends. Read more of her work at www.dailysuitcase.com. Twitter: @dailysuitcase.