Smart luggage company Bluesmart has decided to end its operations, following a ban on baggage with non-removable batteries late last year. The company has been “forced to wind down its operations and explore disposition options, unable to continue operating as an independent entity,” according to sources.
Airlines issued new guidelines last December, banning smart luggage with non-removable lithium batteries. The Bluesmart suitcase, which sold for $400, allowed owners to charge USB devices, estimate the carry weight of their luggage and track the suitcase with an app and GPS. Removing the battery required unscrewing the battery pack and disconnecting a few wires, which would disconnect all features and defeat the purpose of the case.
The reason for the ban is that when damaged, Lithium Ion cells can be flammable and result in depressurization of the aircraft. Normally, passengers would be required to carry Li-Ion cell luggage in the cabin, but many batteries were ending up in the hold, where they posed a significant risk.
“After exploring all the possible options for pivoting and moving forward, the company was finally forced to wind down its operations and explore disposition options, unable to continue operating as an independent entity,” the company said.
The company added that it will not manufacture, sell or advertise any additional products, or honor any warranties. Travelpro has purchased Bluesmart’s intellectual property, designs and branding. Current Bluesmart luggage owners still have a few months to use the tandem app but, the company says, “functionality or service quality will be reduced in the future.”
Similar smart luggage companies, such as Raden and Away, produce similar products but have easily removable batteries. Away is currently working on an ejectable battery pack.
Bluesmart reportedly had approximately 65,000 suitcases that were being actively used by travelers at the time of the ban. A third-party LLC, ProofofClaims.com, has been established to issue refunds and transfer the company’s intellectual property to Travelpro.
Regarding the transfer, Bluesmart issued a statement saying,”Travelpro is a market leader in quality and durability, with a brand reputation that is amongst the highest in the industry. Like Bluesmart, they have innovation in their DNA, having invented the rolling luggage category with the creation of The Original Rollaboard and with continued innovation like the Precision Glide System. They represent the best possible option to steward and bring forward our innovations.”
Bluesmart luggage was wildly popular. The company raised more than $4.1 million in crowdfunding following its first campaign in 2014. Though after the ban, the company provided instructions on how to remove the batteries, which are incorporated into the bags' electronic functions, the new airline guidelines put the company "in an irreversibly difficult financial and business situation."