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Researchers from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Tokyo recently partnered with Pittsburgh International Airport to trial a smart suitcase called BBeep for the visually impaired, using a tracking camera to help prevent collisions. Watch the video. A separate team developed a smartphone app that provides way-finding instructions in real time to help the user find their way to the right departure gate or anywhere else in the airport, with advice on approaching escalators, turns, and so forth. “Despite recent efforts to improve accessibility, airport terminals remain challenging for people with visual impairments to navigate independently,” said Chieko Asakawa, CMU’s IMB Distinguished Service Professor. Watch Professor Asakawa’s TED Talk on how technology helps blind people explore the world.
This is probably what most of us think of when talk turns to 'smart luggage' - cabin bags with a removable charger that allows you to power up smartphones and their like. Popularised by Horizn in Europe and Away in the USA, other models include the budget Marlon and the luxe Arlo Skye. A great possession for the smart traveller.
Modobag claims it can get you around the airport up to three times faster than walking. It tends to make you a smart traveller. In motorized mode, you can ride the suitcase up to 6 miles (9.5km) at speeds up to 8mph (13kmh). It’s like a grown-up Trunki, with a grown-up price tag – ‘just’ $1,495 (available only for shipping within the United States). An interesting way of getting around the airport in preparation for a flight or a short stay at a designated airport hotel.
ECEEN is a Chinese company making solar-powered products including a range of backpacks from which you can charge smartphones, tablets and other portable devices. Some models also include a solar-powered LED 'torch'. Widely available from online retailers.
Dutch-based XD Design has created a range of backpacks that don’t compromise on looks while keeping your property safe. Bobby comes in various shapes and sizes, has hidden zips and pockets, is made from waterproof materials that are anti-cutting and features an integrated USB port. Watch Bobby in action here!
If you’ve ever waited at the baggage carousel for checked luggage that’s gone astray, the Smart-Unit luggage tracker might be your answer. Pop the device into your checked luggage and download the app to your smartphone. The tracker uses GPS networks to locate your bag (anywhere around the world, when the plane is not in flight) and Bluetooth connectivity to alert you when your bag is within 30 metres (100ft). In a similar vein, Trackimo Guardian was developed to keep track (literally) of kids, the elderly, pets, and so forth. It can come in handy when meeting juniors and seniors in the potentially confusing environment of a busy airport.