As someone who follows the high-end luggage industry pretty closely, I’ve been fascinated to see the crowdfunding marketplaces of Kickstarter and Indiegogo surfacing a trail of ‘Smart Luggage’ projects – startups and entrepreneurs taking a fresh look at the needs of travellers and using the latest technology and manufacturing processes to develop truly innovative luggage solutions. Unsurprisingly, some campaigns have foundered whilst others have made many time’s their initial goals and are already in production and achieving satisfied customers. Some of the better examples include the G-RO, Trunkster, FUGU and Neit.
One of the latest in that sequence is the TraxPack, a smart case that starts with the goal of making it easier to climb stairs with one’s carry-on case. It’s an issue that so many of us have faced, not so much at modern airports and transport hubs, but more particularly on city metro networks, where so many of the station entrances and exits predate lifts and escalators.
So here is the campaign video for the Traxpack case:
- A case that is designed to slide up and down stairs, using specially designed tracks along one side of the case to lower friction and protect against scraping or other damage
- A tilting handle that aids manoeuvrability and allows for the sliding action on stairs, and can also act as an angled stand for a mobile device when stationary (e.g. whilst waiting at the gate for your flight)
- Digital luggage scale integrated directly into one of the carry handles on the bag
- Integrated battery pack and USB charging system for mobile devices
- Baggage Positioning System with GPS and mobile app to make it easier to locate a lost case
Their Kickstarter campaign closed as fully funded at the end of July, with a total commitment of just over $70,000, based on rewards that started at $198 for early backers that pre-ordered a case.
As I mentioned, there have been a series of ‘Smart Case’ campaigns recently, and this one for the TraxPack is a good example of where many of them stand. Typically they get good support, with the majority reaching funded status.
Often they include some really innovative ideas (such as the tilting handle and tracks here), whilst still having plenty of rough edges in terms of a unified and cohesive design, manufacturing plans, distribution deals and so on.
In addition, whilst the campaign rewards usually seem great value, the suggested retail prices can vary wildly from the over-optimistically competitive, to the over-exuberantly premium. in the example of the TraxPack, the production case is suggested to have an RRP of over $500 which seems an ambitious sell.
Of course, that’s the point of crowdfunding, right? To support startups to get from rough prototypes to full product launch and production, whilst enabling them to invest in design, manufacturing and marketing resources. Meanwhile backers get in early when production does start and in theory, get a great deal in the process. Often this partnership works well, whilst sadly there are plenty of well-documented examples where the funds are wasted and the products never ship at all.
In a tough marketplace, I applaud companies like Richard and the team at TraxPack for trying new ideas and attempting to get their products off the ground. I wish them well, and see that they are now taking pre-orders via their site. Their design has continued to mature since the close of the campaign, and is now looking much more polished:
There’s certainly much to like about the TraxPack. I hope to try one out sometime soon.