Would You Buy This Suitcase That Follows You Around?

Jul 28, 2018

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Sick and tired of dragging your luggage behind you, or hauling around a cumbersome duffel?

ForwardX Robotics recently debuted their Ovis smart carry-on, which uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to recognize its owner, and follow him or her around (at a leisurely speed of up to 6.2 miles per hour).

“Originally, I was inspired by a robotics competition and realized that we could build a personal robot like R2-D2,” ForwardX Robotics CEO, Nicolas Chee, told The Points Guy.

“We decided to build the technology for an intelligent rolling robot [that] customers could get access to immediately in the form of a self-driving suitcase,” Chee said.

Unlike other smart suitcases that promise to follow their owners (yes, there are multiple) Ovis can analyze its owner’s face and specific dimensions — as well as the surrounding environment — so it knows precisely who to follow, even in crowded airports.

Ovis (in Latin, that means sheep) can follow behind you and right alongside you: no wristband or remote control required. A ForwardX spokesperson claimed that while other prototypes have touted similar tracking capabilities, Ovis is the first suitcase of its kind to go to market with truly autonomous side-follow functionality.

During two separate demos in New York City, the TPG team got to play with the straight-out-of-sci-fi suitcase. The results? It’s still a bit finicky.

The current prototype sometimes struggles to keep up and has a habit of zipping off in the wrong direction. On more than one occasion, it also bumped clumsily into the person it was supposed to be following.

If the Forward X Robotics team is able to keep Ovis from getting confused, it could be a smart solution for travelers who struggle with carrying heavy bags through the airport, or parents with young kids who want their hands free. And I suspect my father, who loves new technology even when it’s more gimmick than marvel (sorry, Dad) would get a kick out of Ovis, too. 

Ovis has plenty of other useful features, including a GPS tracker and weight sensor — important, considering it weighs just shy of 10 pounds empty. And despite the recent fall of major smart bag makers, Ovis is doubling down with its FAA-approved lithium-ion battery. Removable, of course. 

If having a suitcase that follows you around sounds way more cool than creepy, it’s available for pre-order from Indiegogo for $399. It’s not expected to ship out until December 2018, however, so the Forward X team still has time to improve the technology and get Ovis airport-ready.

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