May 20, 2014
Lost Luggage No More: AT&T Offers Solutions For Worry-Free Travel
Gerard LeBlond for www.redorbit.com - Your Universe Online
Travelers have been losing luggage on a regular basis for as long as there has been travel. Imagine never losing your luggage again. AT&T has developed an innovative way for travelers to take the worry of lost luggage away so they can enjoy their vacations, trips and leisure travel.Craig Lee, who is the Director of AT&T’s Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Foundry, located in Plano, Texas, has overseen the development of what is known as “Smart Luggage.” It is an application used for tracking luggage, and can be added to basic suitcases or bags and is compliant with all FAA regulations as well as air carriers.
The system is currently in the early stages of development and testing. The application consists of registration, monitoring and controlling an LED beacon on the luggage itself. Other possibilities include an alert if the luggage goes outside a set perimeter or geo-fence, visual indicators activated from a smartphone that will signal the bag to “light up,” and can be integrated with various international airline and traveler applications.
The “Smart Luggage” was demonstrated at AT&T’s Innovation Showcase in New York City on May 16.
It features a built in GPS sensor inside a piece of luggage which makes it possible to track where the luggage is. It can also send a text alert to when it arrives at an airport or a different location. Although the concept is compelling, by using a GPS and a 3G data sensor inside the luggage, it isn’t quite ready for the market. AT&T expresses that it may also be possible to have a removable device attached to the bag.
An online and mobile website can be accessed to let the customer track the location of the bag. However, accuracy of the location is not precise. For instance, the device says your luggage is at the airport, but it doesn’t disclose where in the airport it is. Also, if your bag is crossing the Atlantic, FAA regulations for wireless and GPS use are prevented from working.
On the up side, the traveler can get a text alert when the bag arrives at its destination. The down side is that the battery remains operational for only three days -- plugging the bag into a USB port before travel is a must.
The “Smart Luggage” system is currently a prototype and still in development and AT&T says there is no reason that the system couldn’t be incorporated with beacons or RFID.
Most likely, if this new innovation comes to market it will be accompanied with a service plan of some kind. Possibly as an added service for existing AT&T customer service plans or a per-use fee. Luggage manufacturers could possibly produce luggage with the system already integrated into the bags, according to a PC Magazine report.
In March of this year, there were more than 185,000 mishandled baggage claims filed with United States airline companies. Travelers would welcome technologies to lessen or even prevent lost luggage. AT&T claims the new system could be on shelves as early as next year in some form.