Does Google Monitor Your Carry-On? Digital Innovation in Travel Accessories
How Can Connected Travel Accessories Can Create Sustainable Advantages In An Established Market?
BlueSmart is a technology company that developed an Internet-connected travel carry-on. BlueSmart’s carry-on has several Internet enabled features that enhance the user experience, but the carry-on’s ability to capture user location data makes the product a digital winner.
The BlueSmart is leaps and bounds ahead of their closest competitor when it comes to digital features. Their carry-on has a digital lock that is controlled by your phone, has proximity alerts which sync through Bluetooth, and has location tracking using an embedded GPS. The features alone make the product unique, evidenced by the $2,000,000 the company raised on indigogo.com
Trip Data App
The app creates value for users by keep track of all visited locations, logging time spent in travel, and providing flight reminders.
BlueSmart has the potential to capture the most value by providing advertisers and service providers information on individual’s future travel plans and accurate location tracking.
Targeting Travel Plans
Advertisers such as Google would benefit from knowing a BlueSmart user’s upcoming travel plans. Imagine a situation in which BlueSmart provides Google with a user’s itinerary for an upcoming trip to the Bahamas. Google can subsequently target the user with advertisements related to beach vacations. Hotels and car rentals would also benefit from this information, allowing them to send the user special offers.
Accurate Location Tracking
BlueSmart has already partnered with Uber to provide easy access to airport rides. With the touch of a button, a BlueSmart user can request their Uber as soon as they land. Imagine a scenario in which a BlueSmart carry-on accompanies a user from the airport to the hotel. Brick and mortar establishments such as local tour operators could send special offers to the user’s app as the carry-on passes their location. Location information would also be valuable to any advertisers focused on local deals, such as Groupon.
Data: A Competitive Advantage
BlueSmart cannot compete with established bag manufacturers on features alone. In time, other manufacturers will copy their technology. The established players have more resources, fully developed distribution channels, deeper connections with factories, greater scale, etc… However, BlueSmart has a competitive advantage as a first mover in the industry.
As established players scurry to build their own version of the connected carry-on, BlueSmart will be building thousands of highly accurate user profiles and collecting millions of data-points. As mentioned prior, this data will be highly valuable to advertisers. By having more data than their competitors, BlueSmart will be able to negotiate more favorable advertising agreements with companies like Uber, Google, and Groupon.
In addition, BlueSmart prides itself on being a technology company more than a bag company. In theory, they should be able to collect more relevant data points from which they derive more useful intelligence than a “Samsonite,” which focuses on bags and bag design. We can assume that it will take a year for an incumbent to replicate BlueSmart carry-on’s features, but much more time to replicate BlueSmart’s app, and BlueSmart’s ability to manipulate data in a way that technology companies can benefit from.
Student comments on Does Google Monitor Your Carry-On? Digital Innovation in Travel Accessories
This carry-on sounds awesome. The peace of mind that you won’t lose your bag (or that you can find it if you do lose it) seems extremely valuable. It’s a great point that there are many different systems we interact with when we travel (hotel, rental car, taxi, ATMs, etc). There are a ton of opportunities to make this more seamless – I wonder if this company will be the one to do it.
To me, this seams like a merger of technology with everyday products that is destined to fail. While everybody would want to know where their own carry-on is located, it just does not make sense to me. Google should likely already know about your upcoming travel plans with Google Cards synced to let you know about upcoming flights, the weather of your next destination and ads focused around your travel. Therefore, I do not see this as a potential revenue source and cannot see how product functionality and features will encourage travelers to purchase BlueSmart over other traditional providers. With the increase of beacons or even just wearables such as the Apple Watch, BlueSmart technology is likely to become obsolete. The Company appears to play in a niche field with no true pain points or customer adoption. I see this as being a sign that the bubble with soon burst.
Very interesting topic to read about and consider – your post made me quite curious about this so-called ‘smart’ luggage, and what it can offer. Taking a look at features such as a built-in scale, and the 10,000 mAh battery, these are definitely features which add convenience to a traveler’s routine. I question, however, how unique these features are (certainly nothing that can be IP protected), and how quickly luggage manufacturers themselves will simply integrate these features, as you mention.
In terms of some of the other features they market to potential customers, such as providing flight reminders, tracking how far you have gone/”trip data”, I would have to agree with DIGITite that they seem to simply duplicate information we can record on a smartphone, which we know users of this luggage will have, since it is necessary to operate the luggage. The same can be said of the value of this type of data for those that BlueSmart seeks to capture value from, who already track this data through other means.
In terms of the value of not losing luggage, the ability to track does offer a value-add for a niche of customers, however I wonder if this niche will be enough for BlueSmart. Last year, only ~6 bags/1000 were lost worldwide in the airline industry, 95%+ of which were recovered to travelers, and only ~3 bags/1000 were lost in the US. Perhaps they can capture some value from the airlines themselves, which lose billions each year as a result of dealing with lost luggage?
Finally, this topic sparks my interest in the future of the “Internet of Things” in general. In a world when consumers are increasingly tracked left and right, and anonymity and privacy are fast dying, will there not be increasing value to “not being located,” to having our whereabouts be unknown at times? Will consumers not tire of being viewed as “data sets” by which they become the targets of optimized ads, and become more discerning about what they receive in exchange for access to a piece of their identities? Sandy Pentland’s work with the MIT Media Lab suggests a provocative line of thought which may become quite powerful if legislation on personal data rights catches up to the technology of a “connected world of objects” – “Big data and the “internet of things”—in which everyday objects can send and receive data—promise revolutionary change to management and society. But their success rests on an assumption: that all the data being generated by Internet companies and devices scattered across the planet belongs to the organizations collecting it. What if it doesn’t?
Alex “Sandy” Pentland, the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, suggests that companies don’t own the data, and that without rules defining who does, consumers will revolt, regulators will swoop down, and the internet of things will fail to reach its potential. To avoid this, Pentland has proposed a set of principles and practices to define the ownership of data and control its flow. He calls it the New Deal on Data.” (https://hbr.org/2014/11/with-big-data-comes-big-responsibility)
Thanks for posting on this topic and getting us talking about it!