GLOBAL ECONOMY

Four travel nerds from Argentina created world's first app-managed luggage

Bluesmart luggage is what happens when four travel nerds from Argentina get together to design the perfect high-tech suitcase.

Called the “iPhone of luggage" by the BBC, named “Top Innovative Product and Service” by Forbes magazine, and awarded “Best Travel Gear” by Fast Company, Bluesmart was founded by a group of millennial engineers and tech gurus with more than 30 years of combined experience in software development, industrial design and manufacturing.

The it-bag has a charging station that can power up devices, and it's app-managed – meaning that you can use your smart phone or a tablet to access many of its coolest features. 

These include a self-weighing scale, a lock, a tracking feature that uses GPS to locate the suitcase and, for those paranoid security types, a notification system that tells you when you’re separated from the bag.

The app also tracks which airports the case has been to, how many miles its traveled and how long it spent in each country.

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The brains behind Bluesmart are: Martín Diz from the Patagonia region , an aerospace-engineering Ph.D. student at the State University of New York at Buffalo; Toni Pierucci, a Buenos Aires native who now lives in Hong Kong and is an experienced entrepreneur; Alejo Verline, also from Buenos Aires and founder of the design agency, NSNC; and Diego Saez-Gil, who was born in a small city in the north of Argentina, where he studied electromechanical engineering and dreamed of travelling around the world.

The quartet launched their project in October 2013 using the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo. They raised $150,000 in the first 24 hours, and, by the time the campaign ended in January 2014, they had raised over $2 million in pre-orders from more than 8,000 people in 110 countries.

The company is backed by Y-Combinator, Silicon Valley's most competitive and prestigious technology accelerator, and is headquartered in San Francisco's SoMa district. It also has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Buenos Aires.

The creators’ inspiration came, in large part, from their own negative travel experiences.

“I was trying to bring a bunch of electronics, some iPads, home to my family for Christmas. These sorts of things are really expensive [in Argentina],” Saez-Gil told TechCrunch.

“So I load it all up in my suitcase, and when I got off the plane they couldn’t find my luggage. It's days before Christmas. I called everywhere: no luggage.”

The Bluesmart One sells online at Bluesmart.com for $449. Customers can try out a suitcase for 100 days, and, if not completely satisfied, it can be returned.

A planned deluxe version, the Black Edition, can be preordered for $549.

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