Quite clever de­signs for wheeled cases

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

PHO­TOS: IN­DIEGOGO

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.

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