Connected Objects Travel

Keep those eyes in the sky focused on your luggage with the Smart Unit tracker

The point at check-in where control over luggage is relinquished to the airport can leave anyone with an queasy feeling that’s hard to shake no matter how much alcohol is consumed on the flight. Most of the time, nothing happens. Those times when something does, however, can ruin an entire trip.

The Smart Unit is a GSM-connected luggage tracking device that takes the ride with a piece of luggage through the bowels of airport travel, keeping users informed about their location the entire time. It shuts off while in flight, avoiding any possible interference with FAA regulations, and powers back upon landing just in time to alert users to the bag’s arrival onto the baggage claim belt. Alerts can also inform users of luggage tampering as well as a separation of more than 100 feet. Early birds can grab the unit now for $59 before it goes up to $99. The $50,000 campaign is looking to ship the Smart Unit in May 2015.

Since its battery only lasts one week, the Smart Unit may be a bit of a pain to be charge. A more comprehensive version of this idea is the Bluesmart, which incorporates a tracking solution and so much more into the luggage itself.

Kids/Babies Wearables

FTRAC promises cheap and easy tracking of kids, others

Tracking solutions come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing you can be sure of is a hefty price tag associated with keeping connected to the bells and whistles these devices give you. A lot of the time, though, the device supposed to help you worry less makes you worry more because it doesn’t work as properly as it should.

FTRAC is a versatile and thereby more functional tracking alternative. It takes advantage of its GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi capabilities to ensure that whatever is being tracked, a child, an elderly family member, a pet is always detected. The device comes in three models: the Superior boasts all the bells and whistles such as a microSD slot, the EXP can be worn in a multitude of different ways, and the Pets version comes with a collar. The FTRAC iOS, Android, or Web companion app allows users to set geo-fences, facilitates alerts for wet pets, and provides a map UI for easy tracking.

That usually fearsome monthly fee? It’s $2.95 through FTRAC, or users can opt for their own data plan through another carrier. Their $18,000 Kickstarter campaign is offering a free six month subscription for an early bird backing of anywhere from $69 to $89, depending on the model. They could’ve done more, though, when compared to the subscription perk Pip is offering. Start tracking beginning February 2015.

Cell Phone Accessories

Russian dolls rejoice as Talkase protects your phone with another phone

As much as our smartphones can do and as versatile they can be, there are some instances where having a smartphone actually isn’t the best idea. Parents who want to stay in touch with their kids don’t necessarily want to buy them a smartphone as much as business travelers who need two phones don’t really enjoy carrying them around. For those situations where an expensive and most of the time bulky smartphone isn’t the best choice, there’s the Talkase.

Talkase is an iPhone 5s, 6, or 6 Plus case that also houses an extremely slim, standalone quad-band GSM phone. The company intends Talkase to be the ultimate secondary phone either by working with its own SIM card, or facilitating phone calls and syncing contact lists with other smartphones through Bluetooth. The case has a small compartment that holds a pin and micro-SIM adapter as well, ensuring users will always have the capability to always use the Talkase phone. Backers have the choice of one of four colors for $45 with an estimated ship date of December 2014 as the campaign has already achieved success with their $60,000 campaign.

The phone itself is incredibly thin, measuring in at 5.5mm and coming complete with an OLED screen on which you can text, a calculator mode, and a 200mAh battery that offers three hours of talk time with 100 hours of standby. One of the best things about Talkase is how much girth it doesn’t add to an iPhone, avoiding the problem of making it too ungainly. On the other hand, there aren’t cases available for the wide range of other smartphones on the market — ultimately a very narrow focus.


Kids/Babies Safety Smartwatches/Bands

Linkoo shrinks down the size, price of the child locator watch

No matter how many precautions are taken, a parent’s worry for their child’s whereabouts isn’t something that is easily quelled — if at all. It’s ingrained deep in our wiring to be worried for our offspring. From getting lost to more serious concerns like predators, the only defense a parent really has are cell phones. For younger children, though, a smartphone comes with excessive maintenance costs even if it may contain everything a parent needs to feel better.

Inventor Lionnel Legros has created Linkoo to ease the worry of parents across the globe. Linkoo is a combination GPS tracker and cell phone for specifically for kids. The myriad of bright, fun color options appeals to kids while the integrated GSM appeals to parents, programmable with each parent’s number and one SOS number for emergencies. The child can make calls to these numbers or receive calls from anywhere around the world, and if the child doesn’t pick up a call, the watch will automatically call back ensuring the parent gets in contact no matter what. A Web portal and companion iOS/Android apps offer parents an additional layer of protection in the form of  maps with real-time tracking and geo-fencing capabilities. The Linkoo is going for $129 with an estimated delivery date of March 2015. Inventor Lionel Legros is looking for $50,000 in funding.

Capitalizing on a child’s excitement for their first watch is a smart move on the inventor’s part, even if it’s a little sneaky. But for parents, nothing is ever too sneaky to ensure their child’s safety. The excessive costs associated with maintaining a smartphone for a child are mitigated with a solution that keeps just the essentials, making it very child-friendly. There are tons of other GPS, childcare smart watches on the market like the 1Decision Bracelet that interacts with an accompanying bracelet worn by the parent, taking responsibility off of the child’s shoulders to signal for help. So the question remain: will a child actually wear it if they were to know what it actually does? The video paints an ideal picture, but is it a truthful one? We all know how finicky children can be, after all.

Kids/Babies Smartwatches/Bands

Kidswatcher is a tracking watch that provides a bit of child-tracking assurance

kidswatcherIn earlier decades, it was common for children to go off on their own and explore the neighborhood on adventures. Many parents still want to preserve that freedom, but still want a way to keep tabs on their kids. In the tradition of recent crowdfunding efforts HereO and Tinitell comes Kidswatcher. Children can wear a stylish, waterproof digital watch that parents can scan into their phone using an app and a QR code on the interior of each watch. The watch can report on the child’s location outdoors using GSM networks and indoors by using Wi-Fi. Parents can even send a buzz to the children’s watch which they can acknowledge, or alert social media and the police in case of emergency. The Kidswatcher will launch in December for €149, but can also be pre-ordered on a trial basis.