When we think about smart technology, we often think about the things that go in our homes. The pieces of technology which make the ways we live our lives that little bit more efficient when we’re going about our own business. Whether that’s cooking, bathing, or even just watching TV – the first things that spring to mind are the systems we use to streamline and reinvigorate everyday processes. And that’s not surprising, really. Afterall, we do them every day.
But smart technology doesn’t end at your front door – or even your driveway.
Not so long ago, travel was an integral part of our everyday lives, too. From commuting to holidays, as a society we are not used to being static. With the possibility of trips abroad – or, at the very least, within the borders of the United Kingdom – now looking like a tangible reality in the very near future, and traveling to and from work once again becoming a part of our daily routine, it’s time to look again and the smart technology designed to make our lives better when we’re on the move.
The great thing about travel technology is that it’s compact – a reminder that Smart Tech doesn’t have to mean a whole house-worth of wires and interfaces, although we love it when it does. These technologies are designed to slip effortlessly into the ephemera of the everyday: tech-based refinements of objects and ideas that should be familiar to most, now decked-out with features more suited to contemporary life.
Take smart luggage, for example: the kinds of features now bestowed upon the humble suitcase range from the practical to the ecologically progressive. Case in point (some pun intended): while it might not account for your airline’s baggage-handling prowess, an integrated tracking app means that – even if you’re separated from your suitcase – you should, at the very least, have the peace of mind of knowing where they are. And built-in USB chargers mean you won’t ever find yourself without the battery to find your belongings. LEDs that illuminate in low-light when your case is open also eliminate that awkward fumbling when you’re packing in the dark – or desperately looking for your in-flight novel while everyone else is sleeping.
Not quite at the other end of the scale, but a little less commonplace than a suitcase, a properly kitted-out smart watch can make life on the road less daunting after a year spent indoors. With features that range from GPS, to listening to your favourite playlists, to a battery that just won’t quit, these devices make sure that you’re never unexpectedly cut off from the world. Unless, of course, you want to be.
That being said, if you are more about a trip that’s off the beaten track, there’s all kinds of smart technology designed to make that experience smoother and more enjoyable – without taking the edge off completely. Inflatable solar lights, for example – like this one, designed by LuminAID – are portable, waterproof, and can keep the dark at bay for up to 16 hours. Which, if you can’t get your night-time fire started, could make for an essential piece of kit.
Admittedly a little more abstract, Augmented Reality is also making inroads into the travel sector. From guided tours that feel like you’re already there – or as second-best replacement if you can’t make it all – to hotels with extra features embedded in a digital layer with near-endless possibilities, it’s not just about the technology you can take with you but about where that tech can take you itself.
It’s hard to know how the next year is going to look – let alone the next few months. But, with advances in smart technology not so easily put on pause as the rest of our lives, it’s good to know that – as soon as we are on the move again – smart technology can keep us company on the go, just like it has been at home.