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Luggage Goes High Tech (Part 1)

When I was young child, there was no such thing as wheeled luggage. Instead, I remember large heavy suitcases that my father had to drag to and fro. That began to change around 40 years ago with a brilliant idea: Why not put wheels on these bags so they are easier to move around? It was not until later, 1987 to be exact, when a Northwest pilot put two wheels on a carry-on bag. First popular with flight crews, it gradually became mainstream after he founded a company many travelers know today as Travelpro.

There have been many evolutionary tweaks over the past quarter century with improvements in material and smartly designed pockets but none have been as revolutionary as what we are seeing recently. For example, there is “world’s first smart, connected carry-on” called Bluesmart, a carry-on size suitcase controlled via app through your smartphone. Of the many features to this bag, the most beneficial are probably the ability to lock and unlock your bag, track it, and weigh it but my favorite is a built-in battery charger for your phone. Others will appreciate the 4-wheel spinner’s built-in GPS to always know where your luggage is located.


Bluesmart claims this carry-on is airline-compatible with a size of 21.5″ x 14″ x 9″. That will meet most airline regulations (not most regional jets, however) but I do not know if the measurements are only the bag size or if they include everything from the top of the handle to the bottom of the wheels. Your choice of colors, as long as it is black.

Bluesmart is not the only innovator out there. Also consider neXstep Luggage. Another spinner carry-on, this bag modified the telescopic handle to convert into either a seat or a hotel room luggage rack. I mentioned in a former post that many people use a hotel bed to open their luggage but this is not a great idea because of the possibility of attracting bed bugs. This suitcase allows you to avoid that problem. Another great feature here, no longer any need to worry if you arrive at an airport gate area or train station and find no available seating.

NeXstep hasn’t announced pricing or distribution yet but they will be licensing their technology to other luggage manufacturers.


For a more detailed history of the creation of wheeled luggage, please visit journalism friend Joe Sharkey’s excellent article.

Part 2 tomorrow.

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