Powercast, an RF-based provider of remote wireless power technology, announced that ViewTag, an electronic RFID luggage tag supplier, has selected its Powerharvester chipset for battery management. This will allow ViewTag’s Electronic Baggage Tag (EBT) to be reused more than 3000 times.
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Digital visual tags can be affixed to luggage and allow passengers to mark their luggage, simplifying the passenger’s airport check-in experience to simple luggage checking. Powercast said British Airways is the first airline to introduce ViewTag to passengers and is on track to achieve this by 2020. Passengers can check-in with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and British Airways applications, collect boarding passes and synchronize itineraries with tags. Passengers can also transfer tags between luggage.
ViewTag is equipped with RFID, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), digital display, lithium battery and Powerharvester chipset, including wireless power RF-DC converter chip and boost converter IC. Powercast’s technology protects the battery by keeping the tag dormant until it detects and acquires RF energy from a nearby airport RFID scanning device, at which point it updates the display based on the passenger’s itinerary.
FlyerTalk members who are among the first to receive British Airways’ pricey new “smart” luggage tags are giving the devices an “A+” for innovation, but slightly less favorable grades for design, execution and construction. The self-updating, display screen ViewTags have just enough cool new features to make the gadgets somewhat impractical, but a lot of fun.
There are some advantages to being an early adopter of new technologies. There is something both prestigious and invigorating to having access to conveniences and features known only to an elite group of gadget geeks. In the right circumstances, it is easy to imagine how smug James Bond must feel knowing his secret laser wristwatch could cut a man in half. There are, of course, also a few drawbacks to being the first to own the latest gadget – by the time the rest of the world jumps on the bandwagon, the cost of entry will likely be considerably more reasonable and those early adopters will have already helped work most of the glitches out of the systems.
THE PRODUCT: VIEWTAG
FlyerTalkers who were some of the very first elite flyers to get their hands on British Airways’ new display-screen-equipped smart luggage tags are becoming very familiar with the downside to living on the cutting edge of development. On the other hand, it sure can be fun to be the very first passengers to catch a glimpse into the future of air travel.
The new ViewTags will eventually have the capability to track a bag route in real-time through a mobile app. The Bluetooth-enabled tags are designed to be synced to an individual passenger’s itinerary and will automatically update destination information in the same format as today’s traditional airline baggage claim tags – should that itinerary change. Ideally, because ViewTags essentially route bags automatically, passengers will be able to skip check-in lines entirely, in some cases.
“By allowing passengers to transfer their information digitally before they arrive at the airport, check-in is reduced to a matter of seconds,” ViewTag CEO Richard Warther notes.
WHAT DO FLYERTALKERS THINK?
British Airways parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) has an exclusive five-year contract with ViewTag to offer the technology to its passengers, but the price can be high for the privilege. Passengers have to pay nearly $80 (introductory offer) per RFID-enabled luggage tag to participate in the program and the service isn’t even completely up and running yet.
“Can only pair one with the app, that’s not much use given a 3 bag allowance,” FlyerTalker tuonopepper wrote. “Lol. Not exactly attractive either is it, seems a poor execution of a decent idea, I’ll skip it.”
Other members complained that the rather pricey luggage tags were difficult to attach and seemed a bit too delicate to survive much abuse from bag handlers. Most frequent flyers, however, took a wait-and-see attitude, which is savvy considering the tags are basically expensive decorations until more features are available.
“I took the view that if I didn’t try I wouldn’t find out,” FlyerTalker LBP2 stoically offered. “I think the benefits right now are probably on the light side, which often applies to early adopters, but it looks like there will be iterative developments. It’s just a bit frustrating having a new toy that I won’t be able to do anything with for a while.”
Are you among the first to strap a ViewTag to your checked luggage? Will “smart” luggage tags soon be as indispensable as roller-bags and free wifi or are they a cringeworthy fad soon to fade away like calculator watches and hoverboards? Time to dial-in – FlyerTalkers are opening just arrived in the mail ViewTag boxes and posting stickies about the experience on the FlyerTalk online bulletin boards right now.