IoT Blog

IoT Blog

How Connected Luggage Tracking Systems Make Travel Less Stressful

by Benoit Tournier, Director of Marketing, Transportation
About three out of every 1,000 airline passengers arrive at their destination only to find their luggage did not. Most of the time, this is the result of an airline misprinting a routing label. But you could also simply leave it behind in an airport shop, lounge or restaurant, or it could be stolen. Regardless of how you lose your bag, this is an inconvenient and stressful event for any traveler. You might wait days for your luggage to be found—assuming it’s found at all—and in the interim, you may be left without a fresh change of clothes or even a toothbrush. 

Luggage tracking systems can now save you from having to buy a whole new wardrobe in a foreign country. Advances in IoT technology have made luggage trackers more portable and affordable for travelers. And the tracking systems that these companies use have become increasingly reliable on a global scale. To take advantage of this emerging industry, you’ll need to build a luggage tracking system that focuses on the best global connectivity available; one that can connect to a network no matter where it is and keeps customer information secure. 

The Benefits of Luggage Tracking Systems 

Although airports have their own label-based systems for tracking luggage, this system isn’t foolproof and it only works while you’re in the airport. Every airline puts a unique routing number and barcode on each piece of luggage that’s checked onto the plane. However, if this label gets damaged, airport can no longer track your bag via computer, and instead, you’ll be left to dig through the unclaimed luggage. What’s more, this paper label won’t help you once your bags leave the airport. If someone snags your luggage from the baggage claim by mistake, or you accidentally leave your backpack behind in a cab on the way to the hotel, there’s no way to track the bag’s location.

An electronic luggage tracking system that uses a SIM to connect to the cellular network, rather than paper routing numbers, is a much safer choice for travelers. Using luggage tracking systems that connect to a mobile app, you can track your bags anywhere in the world, whether you’re in an airport or lounging on a Caribbean beach. Since this system is mobile and tied to your unique username and password, you can also find your luggage even if your laptop or phone are both stowed inside the lost bag. All you have to do is log onto the app from a borrowed device. 

Luggage Tracking Systems Should Be Easy to Use

LugLoc sought to build a luggage tracking system with reliable tracking capabilities. But that device also needed to be sufficiently portable so that travelers could use it with ease. 

To use their luggage tracking system, customers just need to charge the electronic tag for 24 hours. After the tag is charged for the first time, customers then sign up for the free LugLoc mobile app and enter the 8-digit number located on the electronic tag. After this is done, the tag can only be tracked by the user who is linked up to the account. This means that customers don’t have to remember the tag’s code; they just sign into the app with their username and password. From here, customers place the compact LugLoc luggage tracker inside of their suitcase, backpack, purse or briefcase. If they lose their luggage, they simply sign into the app to find its current location. 

Offering Global Coverage is Essential for Luggage Tracking Systems
In order to give their customers a reliable tracking connection anywhere in the world, LugLoc uses Sierra Wireless’ Smart SIM technology, which is embedded in all of its luggage tags. Smart SIMs were the best option for connectivity because they offer the most reliable global connection. A Smart SIM also takes up less than an inch of space, which makes it far easier to pack the LugLoc into a small suitcase.

More importantly, these smart SIMs constantly scan the network for the strongest signal available, meaning that customers will maximize the battery lifetime, and will rarely, if ever, lose their connection. Since these are global SIM cards, a customer doesn’t need to do anything if they move from one country to another—the card will automatically transfer coverage to the best available network in that new country. The tag is also capable of using both SMS and USSD communication, thereby ensuring that customers get the fastest updates on their luggage. 

Keeping Luggage Secure 

While a luggage tracking system’s primary task is to identify where a piece of luggage is located at all times, built-in security is also an important feature. LugLoc includes cellular service fraud detection in its system to prevent would-be hackers from gaining access to their customers’ SIM subscription or luggage information. Using this detection system, it’s far more difficult for hackers to locate a user’s luggage, or target that user’s personal information. By keeping customer information and tags as secure as possible, customers can feel more at ease when they place their LugLoc tag inside a suitcase. 

Looking Ahead to Low Power Wide Area Technology

Carriers around the world started to roll out a new standard cellular technology in 2017 called Low Power Wide Area (LPWA), which will be a perfect fit for applications like tracking that have low data rates and only need to transmit small amounts of data. LPWA is specifically designed to meet core IoT application needs, or the three C’s: Cost (devices and services costs), Current (battery life) and Coverage (reach).

Compared to traditional cellular, cost savings are achieved as LPWA technologies require much less processing power and less memory. Low current and longer battery life results from the reduced processing and more opportunities to enter deep sleep. Higher coverage comes from slowing the data rate, so you’ll never lose track of your asset, even when it’s underground or in an area with poor network coverage. LPWA embedded modules are available to start designing with today.

If you want to build your own asset tracking system with portability, global connectivity and security in mind, Start with Sierra. Our experts can help you build a tracking system from scratch using our embedded module and Smart SIM technology. Watch the on-demand expert panel webinar, How IoT Enables the Tracking of Assets.