Having squeezed that last pair of socks into your suitcase, forced the zips shut and rushed out the door, there's nothing worse than having to wrangle uncooperative luggage over bumpy city streets on your way to the airport. A Californian team thinks it has the solution to this problem with Floatti, a smart suitcase with suspension, smartphone connectivity and an inbuilt scale.
The first clue to Floatti's feature set lies in the name: it has an inbuilt suspension system that works when you're pushing or pulling the suitcase. Rather than forcing you to wrestle your expensive suitcase and its contents along cobblestones or crumbling footpaths, the system allows the wheels to absorb the bumps and smooth out the ride.
There's more to this smart suitcase than a smart suspension system, though. When it's paired with your iOS or Android smartphone, the Floatti's handle acts as a touchpad that allows travelers to play, pause and change music tracks or control their camera. Android users are also able to call specific contacts, launch maps or set off a distress alarm with location information.
Working in tandem with these smartphone convenience features are a set of tracking features to help cut down on panic at the check in desk. Each suitcase comes with two small trackers for handbags, cameras or passport wallets, so you can open the app and check if you packed the camera again without rifling through all your belongings.
Also designed to cut down on packing, unpacking and repacking within the airport is the suitcase's removable gadget pouch. With a mobile charger, or optional laptop charger, the pouch is designed to ensure power-hungry travellers aren't left with flat batteries at their destination. The laptop charger boasts three USB 2.1A ports, a 15 W USB-C slot and a DC port and is claimed to be good for up to seven recharges of an iPhone 6 or 1.5 recharges of a MacBook. The pouch also keeps everything that might need to be x-rayed together, cutting down on time spent finding iPads, computers, cameras and phones in separate sections at security.
As well as connectivity there's also practicality, with a hook on each side to hang headphones, handbags or jackets from when you're in a rush. Failing those, there's also an elastic strap for fastening a second bag to the handle without having to worry about losing half your luggage as you sprint to a boarding gate.
Inside the case, individual pouches can be attached to the lining so cables, toiletries or sweet treats don't get tangled during turbulence. Also useful for avoiding excess baggage charges is an inbuilt scale that displays the weight when the suitcase is lifted by the handle.
There are two Floatti cases being offered on Kickstarter at the moment: the Check in, which measures up at 26.8 in (680 mm) x 17.9 in (455 mm) x 9.6 in (245 mm) and weighs 9.9 lb (4.5 kg), and the Carry on, measuring 21.6 in (550 mm) x 13.8 in (350 mm) x 8.27 in (210 mm) and weighing 7.9 lb (3.6 kg). Pledging US$250 will get you a Carry on suitcase with two trackers and a detachable mobile phone charger, while an extra $40 upgrades you to the Check in model if all goes to plan.
Currently the Kickstarter campaign has raised over US$86,800 of its $100,000 goal with 36 days left. It will take funding of $450,000, however, for the smart handle features to be integrated into the Floatti design.
A video demonstrating the suitcase's suspension system is below.