Quite clever designs for wheeled cases
THE second most irritating thing about flying — after the long, hot wait in the bus — is the lack of design that goes into the wayward wheeled cases people drag behind them.
Loud, unsprung and often with a mind of their own, it seems most designers of wheeled luggage are vying to create in real life the fractious sapient pearwood trunk called Luggage from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories.
There are two exceptions to this norm — the intrepid triwheeled Trailpod, and the marvellously clever Space Case.
The Trailpod rides on three sharply angled wheels attached to independent axles that can be pulled over just about any surface a human can step on. The floating axles support an exoskeleton around an insulated soft cooler and can accommodate various clip-in bags and accessories to store 60 litres of stuff. When not in use, the three ribs of the exoskeleton can fold down to just 30 cm in width.
Trailpod is now trying to raise money to finish development and begin production. It is offering the Trailpod kit on Indiegogo with pledges starting at $149 (R2 132), which is $100 off the estimated retail price of $249. If the makers reach their target, shipping begins in August next year.
The Space Case 1 is a carryon suitcase that is not as rugged as the Trailpod, but almost as smart as Pratchett’s magical Luggage.
It has biometric fingerprint opening for five fingerprints so that the entire family can use it, global tracking, a liftless self-weighing scale, a Bluetooth speakerphone and a battery pack that uses airline-approved alkaline batteries to charge smartphones through three USB charging ports. There is also a Space Case app that shows you on your smartphone where your suitcase is in the airport.
Separate compartments with waterproof zippers hold everything frequent flyers carry, from smart dresses or dinner jackets to laptops and cables. The Space Case rides on four 360-degree, 2,25-inch rubber wheels that ensure silent and smooth motion over rough floors. An accelerometer detects when the Space Case is moving faster than a human can walk and automatically sets to aeroplane mode. In a departure from the tyranny of obsolete design, the entire case can be easily self-repaired, with modular parts that just screw on.
There are six colours from pink to black. Shortly after launching the original pledge campaign on Indiegogo, the Space Case was 1 700% overfunded on July 16. Now a second campaign allows people to order a Space Case for $329 (over R4 560 at the time of print), which excludes delivery costs, by February 2016.
The marvellously clever Space Case (left) tracks itself anywhere in the world, while the skeleton of the intrepid Trailpod (right) can carry the cooler bag over any surface on three slanted wheels.