© 2014 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
How often have you lost your luggage while traveling? On a recent trip to Europe I did, and not just once, but twice. It sure would have been nice if I could have been alerted to the situation and know the destiny of my bags.
Vanguard ID Systems may have solved the problem for both the traveler and the transportation industry. They have developed the World’s first “battery free permanent luggage tag”. Known as the VIEW TAG, the tag looks much like an ID tag commonly used to identify the owner of the bag. What’s different is, it’s E-INK based. E-Link is a specific type of electronic paper used in E-readers and various other mobile devices with an ultra-low power consumption. The tag works like a digital license plate that allows the user to control the process of checking in their bag at home with their cell phone and the tag’s QR code or the embedded NFC (Near Field Communication) module in the tag. NFC is a set of standards used in 80% of smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communications with each other by touching them together or bringing them into a, 3 to 4 inch proximity. In other words while your downloading your boarding pass or QR code for the flight you will also activate the tag by replicating the same information to it. When you arrive at the airport you proceed to the express line, weigh the bags, show your ID and your done. Theses tags are backwards compatible thus allowing old technology, namely bar codes, to catch up with this new technology.
The user receives text messages and alerts at various points of the journey depending on what level of service the airline offers or makes available, or you subscribe to. Different levels, different possible fees if the carrier opts to charge for this feature. In any case it’s a way for the carrier to communicate directly with its customers. If the bags are not with you at your final destination a text would advise that they are delayed, their location and when you could expect them and might even ask you what hotel you are staying at so they could be delivered. This eliminates wasted time at the baggage carrousel only to find out your luggage is lost, and for the airline to avoid angry customers at the lost baggage office. This could be a big time saver and a saving grace for the airline!
Richard Warther, Vangard’s President, advises that these tags will quite likely be in use in a very big way some time in 2014. They are IATA (International Air Transport Association) certified and meet all their current standards. If the carrier’s computer is down it will still show the final destination. The user will either purchase the tag, buy luggage with the tag embedded in it or be given the tag by the carrier as part of a frequent flyer incentive or the transfer of frequent flyer miles. While he would offer no cost figures, he did agree that it should be less than $100. He says the marketing possibilities are endless and his company is exploring all of them. Furthermore, the travel industry sees this as a win-win solution that solves one of their biggest headaches. He underscores that the tag uses no batteries so the average traveler could easily expect more than five years of use with wear and tear being the biggest contributing factor. Currently compatibility is with all the Android phones, but they are working on iPhones as well. As far as a service fee is concerned it would be up to the airlines. Seems to THE GADGETEER that it could be another revenue stream for them since they nickel and dime you for everything else.
While I’ve not had the opportunity to personally test these tags I look forward to their availability and would certainly give it five stars if they work.
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.