Smart luggage has been around for a while. It all started with Away adding an externally accessible spring-loaded battery to their carry-on, allowing you to charge your devices while you waited for your flight.
Then companies like Samsara evolved the concept, adding things like biometric fingerprint locks and proximity tracking through a proprietary app. The problem is that I haven’t found an app worth downloading yet. Or even if the app is okay, I use it so rarely that usually iOS has unloaded it from my device when I really need it. By the time I download a fresh copy of the app over airport Wi-Fi, my lost bag is already halfway to Borneo.
Call it a monopoly, but there’s no better tracking notification system than the one Apple built into iOS and extended with AirTags. It’s still on my phone, it works exactly as expected, and I don’t have to worry about third-party apps.
Samsara got the memo and took the next logical step, creating a slot for an AirTag right in all of their next-gen suitcases.
I really like Samsara’s first generation bag. The smart module had all sorts of tricks, including a built-in LED that would light up the bag when opened. The design also incorporated a flat surface that you could use as an ad hoc desk.
While the battery and smart module went MIA for their new line of Tag Smart cases (a bit of a future against supply chain issues I imagine), in its place is a secure mount for an Apple AirTag. Fortunately, an AirTag is included with the bag so you don’t have to provide your own (although you can if you wish).
Inserting the AirTag is a simple procedure, done from inside the liner of the carry-on itself (so you don’t have to worry about someone running away with your AirTag). While the press photos all show the AirTag with the silver side facing out, you can place it however you like in the actual holder.
Along with the AirTag module, the new Tag Smart carry-on retains all the design elements that made the original bag fun to use: the shelf-like top, smooth-rolling wheels, dual combination latches and optional packing cubes. These packing cubes were included with the original carry-on, but are now available at a special rate when you purchase a bag.
The future of smart bags?
While I really hope Samsara brings back a battery at some point in the future (though, who doesn’t have a portable battery in their travel kit at this point?), the Apple AirTag integration is nice made and indicative of where the industry needs to change to stay on top of production.
Who knows if chip shortages are going to remain a problem (the “new normal” is that there is no new normal) but smaller companies like Samsara are always going to shoulder more of the burden. Why not take advantage of the production line of a tech giant like Apple instead? It’s a win-win for Samsara who can then focus more on what they do best, making great bags.
Pricing starts at $355 for the polycarbonate shell, aluminum frame carry-on (it’s $595 for a full aluminum case). Right now, though, you can pre-order both for $265 and $445, respectively, on the Samsara site. They will ship around the middle of next month.