At the Future Travel Experience, Europe conference, I ran into Rimowa’s gorgeous luggage with built-in electronic tags again, and into a luggage brand neutral solution, developed by DS-Tags BV, in The Netherlands.
The latter made me reconsider my view of these items as nice-to-have gadgets.
As the calendar turns ever closer to the 2018 deadline for IATA’s Resolution 753, it’s difficult not to be a bit skeptical about more elaborate bag tagging and tracking solutions, when a simple fix will do the trick.
RFID embedded printable tags are easily implemented, and would resolve all the basic requirements of Resolution 753. While 2018 might seem far off, in aviation terms it’s a tight deadline for compliance.
But on the passenger side, there’s still time and that’s where opportunities for nifty innovations, like electronic bag tags, lie.
But what’s so special about DS-Tags which would make take a second look at this technology?
The most important feature is that these bags are both luggage and airline agnostic–to a degree.
We’ve seen Air France/KLM propose a very nice electronic home printable bag combination, with a tracking unit which must be placed inside the luggage, but that is at least initially intended for Air France/KLM customers.
We’ve seen that absolutely gorgeous luggage from Rimowa, which has a built-in electronic bag tag that’s very similar to the one offered by DS-Tags. But, you have to buy new Rimowa luggage.
That leaves a limited set of people who might pick up on either of these solutions.
And that detail doesn’t just matter for customers. It matters for airlines and airports. Ramping up for the integration of these electronic systems into airline apps and baggage readers and baggage handling scanners raises some questions which hardly seem worth asking for a small portion of the population.
By remaining both airline and luggage neutral, DS-Tags opens up a wider market for adoption of this technology which could also benefit the two systems mentioned above. They share common qualities. The principle is inherently the same, with some minor changes, but people can buy one of those DS-Tag systems and pretty much stick it on whatever luggage they like.
DS-Tags also uses similar screen technology to your Kindle reader, so it really looks like a paper tag which makes it easier for you and for baggage drop scanners to read it. DS-Tags says a bag can be scanned in and dropped of in around eight seconds–which doesn’t consider the time it takes you to lug that heavy luggage onto the machine, but you get the idea. It’s faster than printing one of those self-print sticky tags we use at the airport now, and less messy. Plus, no trash.
It’s not the answer to everything but it’s starting to raise the right questions.
A printable RFID tag is still the path of least resistance and a likely solution for the short term, based on what I’ve learned researching this topic for Passenger Terminal World magazine, but there’s more than one way to get the job done.
If there will be enough individuals buying their own electronic tags for no other reason than the simple convenience of avoiding the self-printed tag mess and the peace of mind of having a tag that is far less likely to get separated from your luggage, then all of these solutions start to seem more credible and adoptable.
So the questions will be, how easy can these systems make it on airlines to comply with Resolution 753 and to integrate with their trip management apps? How effectively will these systems work with any bag drop scanner system an airport might have installed, and, more importantly, with the baggage handling systems behind the scenes which will get your bag to the right flight at the right time.