Between restaurant-finding apps, online flight check-ins, and photo-editing software in our smartphones, we are always looking for ways to use technology to hack our travels and make our experiences even smoother (look out for upcoming posts on the many wonders of Google Maps).
Earlier this month, tech companies showed off thousands of new products at CES, the massive consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. Scattered among the personal assistant robots, wall-size televisions and shiny new smartphones are some awesome new products we’d love to use on our travels.
It’s hard to beat the convenience and portability of the iPhone camera, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t coveting this updated Panasonic camera. Dubbed “a videographer’s delight” by reviewers, the GH5 shoots the highest resolution to date for a mirrorless camera, and is outfitted with all sorts of pre-installed software and gadgets for higher-quality documenting. Given the quality of my video-shooting abilities (low), this $2,500 investment is probably not logical right now. But travelers who are experienced in recording their adventures on video will definitely want to check this out.
Sun protection, while always important, is especially difficult to monitor while on vacation. Whether your itinerary involves hours lazing at the beach, trekking around cities, or afternoons sipping iced coffee at outdoor cafes, it’s easy to lose track of the last time you put on sunscreen. L’Oreal’s new UV Sense is a tiny device that sticks to your fingernail to allow you to monitor your UV exposure using your phone, so you’ll never forget to reapply at the right time. It will reportedly be available for less than $50, a small price to pay for days free of sunburn.
This is the piece of equipment that wannabe-polyglots have been dreaming of for years. Travis the Translator is an instant translation device, using AI to translate 80 languages (20 are accessible offline). This handheld device, with 12-hour battery life, could potentially revolutionize the way tourists approach international travel, putting the days of hand gestures and embarrassing heightened-volume English behind us. It won’t replace the value of actually learning a new language, but Travis is an impressive first step to bringing the people of the world a little closer through language.
Possibly the most sci-fi-esque craze to sweep CES this year was self-driving luggage. The CX-1 carry-on from robotics developer ForwardX uses facial recognition and other AI tech to create the world’s first luggage that follows you through the airport on its own. At first glance it looks somewhere between creepy and ridiculous, but think about the implications for disabled travelers, parents with their hands full, or really anyone else. With speeds of up to 7 mph, the bag won’t be a hindrance if you need to sprint for your gate, and the luggage has a system to alert you via wristband if someone tries to swipe your bag. The CES debut was just a prototype and the product likely won’t hit the market for awhile. When it does, keep in mind that policies about “smart” luggage are still being hammered out – airlines recently banned luggage with built-in phone chargers over lithium-ion explosion concerns.
While not a tech “product” per se, the Luggage Teleport start-up is a potential game-changer for frequent travelers. The on-demand luggage service will pick up your bags and deliver it to your hotel, all through an app on your phone. Starting at $35 for two bags and $10 for each additional one, Luggage Teleport is buying you more than just convenience, it could give you an extra hour or two to sightsee right after landing. It’s currently only available in Las Vegas and San Francisco, but I’m sure it won’t be long before it hits other locations nation – and world – wide.
What’s your go-to gadget for traveling?