High-speed connections and cutting-edge products and services bring the world (and beyond) to your living room. Whether it’s video chatting with a relative halfway across the globe, streaming a live soccer match or downloading a manga the moment it’s released, technology has made the world a whole lot smaller.
Still, sometimes it becomes necessary to venture out from our cocoons of clever instruments and into the physical “meatspace,” far from our secure Wi-Fi networks and smart televisions.
Below is our guide to smart technology that will make the burdens of travel easier and will keep you connected, regardless of far from home you are.
A Suitcase That Suits You
Any journey of a decent duration has one thing in common—a suitcase, and if you think the bleeding edge of baggage technology is a retractable handle, it’s time for an upgrade.
The Bluesmart One ($449) is a carry-on case with all the features you’ve come to expect from wheeled luggage (including the retractable handle) but with some tech touches that will prove essential for everyday life.
Chief among these advanced additions is the bag’s USB charging port, allowing travelers to ensure they have a full battery for all of their smart devices regardless of the availability of outlets wherever they go.
The clever carry-on also includes a digital scale so you can keep tabs on your bag’s weight and avoid fees, a remote lock controlled via app and a location tracker, so you can identify exactly when your luggage will be making an appearance on the checked bag carousel.
For those who want a charging, mobile storage solution that also serves as a salve for feet sore from travel, there is the Modobag ($1,095).
In addition to dual USB charging ports and a tracking system, the Modobag comes with telescoping handlebars and steering column, retractable foot pegs, a memory foam seat and a 150-watt electric motor—essentially transforming your luggage into a mini-motor bike that provides conveyance three times faster than foot travel.
Available for order now, the Modobag expects to begin delivery in May.
If you want to get in on the ground floor of new smart luggage technology, behold the Travelmate ($399-$595).
Offering the “first true fully autonomous suitcase,” the Travelmate will automatically accompany you, rolling by your side, as you make your way through the world like some kind of robotic work dog.
The Travelmate also includes dual USB charging ports, a digital scale, a smart lock and a location tracker. The only hitch with this space-age suitcase is that it doesn’t exist yet—the project has only reached 9% of its funding goal, so if you’d like to bring this bag into the world, you’ll need to head to their Indiegogo page.
Never Be Without Battery Life
If you don’t have a suitcase equipped with a charging station, the struggle to maintain sufficiently charged smart devices is oh so real.
The major modes of travel (plane, trains, buses) often don’t have outlets, and those found in airports and other ports of transportation are overrun by charge-hungry competitors behaving like battery-addicted beasts. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that any of the outlets you find out in public will function properly.
Remove the mystery and migraines of keeping your devices powered with a portable charger, namely the Braven BRV-Bank Portable Backup Battery ($99).
The Braven BRV-Bank is an ideal smart solution for the frequent traveler because it is a water-resistant device that can withstand substantial falls unscathed. And that’s exactly what you want from a mobile battery as you careen down corridors in an attempt to catch an international flight, phone and charger in hand while you look to gain every last inch of power, before it all goes clattering on the airport floor.
The BRV-Bank offers two full charges of market-leading smart devices before it needs a charge itself. It also includes bluetooth capabilities that allow you to keep tabs on the Bank’s remaining battery life and a USB flashlight to transform the charger into a spotlight.
Binge Watch From Wherever You Are
One of the toughest parts of departing your smart home for any extended period of time is leaving behind your vast library of digital media. Finding yourself halfway through a particularly compelling season of “Game of Thrones” only to be called away from home on business can put a damper on any trip.
Fortunately the Roku Streaming Stick ($49) can mitigate this malignant reality.
Resembling a humble thumb drive, the Streaming Stick can simply be plugged into the majority of modern televisions, instantly bringing your coterie of streaming video services to your hotel room—from Netflix and Hulu to HBO Now and Amazon Video, and many more. The Roku Streaming Stick is even accompanied by a portable point-anywhere remote, further completing the illusion that you never left your living room.
Break the Language Barrier
Frequently finding yourself in a far-off land can raise a reoccurring problem: communication. Unless you are a polyglot, chances are you will oftentimes find yourself at a loss for words.
Enter the ili, the world’s first wearable translator.
Users simply speak in their native tongue into the (again!) thumb drive-sized device, and ili translates the phrase and plays it out in the desired language—provided that desired language is English, Chinese or Japanese. Developers plan to add additional languages as demand warrants.
The only other caveat for the ili—which does not require Wi-Fi to work—is that buyers must join a waitlist before they can purchase the product. General sales are expected to begin this year.