Handling the mishandled; addressing aviation aggro with smart luggage tags
As new technologies begin to enter the mainstream and demonstrate widespread success, airports are one of the first public services to integrate them. Facial recognition, AI and robotisation measures are all becoming commonplace in modern airports as public and private companies look to streamline and improve the customer journey.
In an environment where technologies are continually being adopted, aspects of the airport experience that fail to modernise and digitise become increasingly conspicuous, with none waiting longer for a breath of creativity than the humble luggage tag.
For all of the complex elements involved in organising, tracking, and delivering luggage, we are still highly dependent on a vulnerable paper sticker to ensure that our belongings get to their destination.
The relative lack of advancement in this seemingly inconsequential area has the potential to have a major impact on airport operations. With the vast volume of lost luggage that airports and holiday goers experience, it’s perhaps no surprise that the US Department of Transportation receives more complaints for lost luggage than anything else. 2016 saw 21.6m bags mishandled by airlines; that’s 40 bags every minute, or the equivalent of every single person in Portugal losing a bag – twice.
A departure from the outdated
Introducing a technologically advanced alternative to the traditional paper tags that typically rip, fade or misprint could offer a simple solution.
Electronic paper offers a comprehensive set of physical and technological improvements to its predecessor. It is far more durable, resistant to tears, rips, and folds to ensure that the tag stays readable and attached to the luggage. Furthermore, electronic ink doesn’t smear or fade and only draws power to alter the image on the tag, making it incredibly low maintenance.
The versatility and unique qualities of ePaper allows brands with foresight and technical expertise to begin innovating disruptive products, or even to develop a new market entirely. With ePaper impressing in other areas of signage, having been integrated by brands like TfL and DresdenElektronik, companies ranging from specialist retailers to international leviathans have demonstrated a real interest in the potential of smart luggage tags.
Overcoming old baggage
One such brand is One Bag Tag, a New York-based brand that utilises ePaper to create a lightweight and durable label. The tag has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, and benefits from the aforementioned benefits of ePaper as a durable, lightweight and versatile device.
One Bag Tag has also developed its own technologies to incorporate in the tag, pushing the envelope of the smart luggage tag concept. These include a GPS beacon to ensure that any lost or forgotten luggage can be located, mobile compatibility with airline apps to allow users to download and access flight information on the move, and proximity sensors to alert passengers waiting by the conveyor belt for their luggage.
The ability to do so is extremely exciting, both for ePaper manufacturers who may not have realised that their technology was compatible with these innovations, and for the smart luggage market as a whole.
With such a concerted effort to produce compact and convenient technology, increased interest and development in this sector will prove an exciting prospect for globetrotters who remain frustrated by the bureaucracy of the airport. One Bag Tag’s work is a testament to the potential that the idea has, as well as vindicating ePaper’s role in the design process.
ePaper offers exciting opportunities for developers to include a durable and tech-friendly material into their products, accelerating growth and innovation in a sector that’s still in its infancy.