The year 1970 marked a monumental shift in the travel industry. Bernard D. Sadow was travelling with his family in the Caribbean, attempting to drag many pieces of luggage through an airport, when an idea struck. An airport worker nearby was moving bags with ease on a wheeled skid while Sadow struggled; what if, thought Sadow, each piece of individual luggage could be moved with the same level of convenience?
He returned to his factory in Fall River, fixed a set of ball casters to the bottom of a suitcase, attached a rope, and effectively created the world’s first piece of rolling luggage. His wave of inspiration changed the travel industry forever.
We’re celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Sadow’s innovation with a look at the tech tools that are revolutionizing travel all over again. Wanderlust calling? Itching to travel as soon as the quarantine ends? Read on for the savvy devices you’ll definitely want to pack in your suitcase –– or the suitcase you’ll definitely want to pack them in!
The power of language is perhaps never more apparent than when one is travelling through a country in which one does not speak its national tongue. The standard guideposts of society — signs, newspapers, conversations, advertisements — all become a mysterious, confusing tapestry. It’s a rich cultural experience, but it can make travelling difficult, no matter how well prepared you are with a pocket dictionary.
A lot of inventions in the tech industry are hailed as “game-changers,” but for Pocketalk, it’s an apt description. This handheld device is a two-way instant voice translating tool that can translate 74 languages. It comes with a global unlimited cellular data plan that is free for the first two years and can operate in 120 companies around the world. Dual microphones with noise cancellation mean that the Pocketalk is effective even in crowded spaces. It also is subject to frequent software updates, so it is constantly improving over time. Ordering in restaurants, asking for directions, and even high-stakes business meetings just got a whole lot easier.
Another standard hassle of travel? Navigating the journey without cellular data, perpetually finding oneself on the hunt for a strong Wi-Fi signal to figure out directions, keep up with messages, or post those Instagram photos of local landmarks.
Skyroam is a fast, portable Wi-Fi and charging station that means you can go as you please without having to stress about the next time you’ll find a connection. At 4G LTE, it’s incredibly fast and can connect up to 5 devices at once –– perfect for work trips or simply sharing a signal with a travel companion. Its robust battery life provides over sixteen hours of service, and an embedded 6000 mAh power bank makes it convenient to charge devices on the go. An added bonus is that the device is incredibly easy to use, even for those who aren’t especially tech savvy; one-touch activation is all it takes to put you back on the grid.
The Smartech Xtend marks another exciting innovative shift in the world of luggage. Carry-on and checked baggage regulations on airlines are ever-changing and often confusing, leaving travellers in a constant dilemma. Checking a bag means risking damage, loss, and eating an oftentimes hefty (and constantly escalating!) fee. Opting for a smaller carry-on means running the risk of not having enough room for all those souvenirs and keepsakes acquired along the journey.
The Xtend means you’ll never have to choose again, because it is effectively both. This ingenious suitcase is the world’s first expandable smart carry-on, increasing the volume of the luggage by fifty percent in mere seconds. This feature alone is enough to make us reach for our credit cards, but it also comes with a host of other convenient bells and whistles. A TSA approved fingerprint lock opening system makes for keyless, codeless security. A portable power pack can charge up to eight smartphones or one laptop via USB ports on the top of the suitcase. Silent wheels and a telescopic handle make for some seriously smooth sailing.
One of our favourite details is perhaps its simplest: the bottom of the suitcase houses a compartment for shoes and laundry, keeping things separate and organized.
One might not think of meditation aids when compiling a list of travel essentials, but we know that travel can be a wearisome affair. (One that is sometimes made easier with specially curated experiences, as our Editor-in-Chief Ramsin Khachi recently shared with KHACHILIFE readers.) Airports, unfamiliar transit systems, ever-changing accommodations, and crowded tourist hotspots can be as exhausting as they are exhilarating.
The Muse is rounding out our list for its ability to ease the stress of the go-go-go nature of jet-setting. The Muse headset works in tandem with your mobile device; simply connect the two, start the corresponding app, and close your eyes. During the session, the device gathers neurofeedback (it’s actually an EEG device, the sort used by neuroscience researchers) via advanced signal processing to interpret mental activity. It then translates that data into weather sounds to provide the user with a clear understanding of one’s own mental state; peaceful weather indicates a calm mind, while busy and racing thoughts are manifested in the sounds of a storm. We can’t always luck out with good weather on the journey, but the Muse helps keep the brain in a sunny state.