Bluesmart — Not so smart after all

Bluesmart was once the darling of the smart luggage world. It was arguably the first smart luggage company — and it had a roaring success.

Their debut luggage — the Bluesmart One — can still be bought on eBay to this day. Seven years on and the tech-packed luggage still has impressive features.

So, what happened to Bluesmart?

This article will look at the meteoric rise — and equally swift fall — of the smart luggage manufacturer that started it all, Bluesmart.

For an entire collection of smart luggage kickstarters that have failed — Check out the big list of kickstarter failures.

Bluesmart Company

Who were Bluesmart?

Founded in November 2013, Bluesmart was a high-tech travel company specialising in smart luggage. The California-based company went to market a year later in 2014 after venture capital funding. However, their real success started in 2015 using kickstarter and indiegogo to crowd fund their first product — the Bluesmart One.

Bluesmart develops Internet-connected travel products that include physical products combined with software.

Finding huge success with the Bluesmart one and crowdfunding model, the company expanded their offerings in 2017.

Blue smart provided travel solutions with location data gathered from their smart products, set up their own online store instead of relying on crowdfunding and developed numerous patents for smart locks and smart luggage.

bluesmart one luggage

Just one year after raising $12 million from investors to continue to grow the company Bluesmart abruptly filed for insolvency in 2018.

Bluesmart’s smart luggage range

Bluesmart One

Known as founders of smart luggage, Bluesmart’s tech connected suitcase — the Bluesmart one — launched to wild success on crowdfunding platforms becoming the most funded travel product on the platform to date.

The Bluesmart One won the RedDot design award in 2016 for its numerous smart luggage features.

  • Inbuilt scales within the handle
  • 3G location tracking
  • Smart locks with bluetooth locking
  • Inbuilt power pack
bluesmart app

Bluesmart Series 2

Bluesmart used the wild success of the series one to expand their product launch, launching the series 2 — a collection of four smart travel bags.

  1. A smart waterproof pouch, with RFID and location tracking feature for your passport
  2. Laptop bag
  3. Series 2 carry-on case
  4. Series 2 self-weighing check-in case

The main upgrades for the Bluesmart Series Two suitcases were incremental:

  • Better wheels
  • 25% more internal space due manufacturing and design improvements
  • Adding GPS to the 3G tracking and upgrading carrier support to provide virtually global tracking
  • Auto-locking features to the smart locks on the luggage, ensuring your bag is always locked
  • Significant increases to the battery size and life

Bluesmart collapse and unhappy customers

We’ve already covered an in-depth look at the legality of smart luggage. But the long and short of what happened to Bluesmart, is that American-based airlines began to implement their rules on smart luggage with fixed batteries in early 2017. This was followed by the FAA updating their guidance, and requiring all smart luggage to have removable batteries.

Neither the Bluesmart One or the newer Bluesmart Series Two had removable batteries.

Despite the widely touted incoming FAA regulation change — and the fact that American carriers were rapidly banning luggage without removable batteries — Bluesmart continued with their crowdfunding and the launch of the Series 2 luggage.

Series 2 travellers can keep all their devices, including laptops, powered up along the way. Simply pre-charge the FAA-, DOT-, and TSA-approved internal Lithium-Ion battery, and it can hold enough juice to charge a smartphone or tablet six times over. It’ll even fully charge a laptop.

Men’s journal — This is why you should buy smart luggage

Rather incredibly, the smart luggage company decided that the airlines were in the wrong, and that they wouldn’t need to produce luggage with removable batteries.

BlueSmart’s website similarly downplays the pending airline ban. “While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed,” BlueSmart writes on its website.

Bluesmart Inc — Consumer affairs

When this luggage was finally permanently banned by the FAA in 2018, Bluesmart tried to take the FAA to court, but ultimately lost and the company filed for administration later that year.

As a huge number of comments on their crowdfunding campaigns show, the ugly side of backing crowdfunding projects is that when they collapse, so does your chance of seeing your money ever again!

While technically, you could fill out a claim to try and recover your money, in the vast majority of cases Bluesmart’s customers were left with no product, no refund, no warranty and any existing travel services unsupported.

Capitalism 1 — Consumers 0.

Should Bluesmart have seen it coming? — Jim Feig did!

The first comment on the Series One promotional YouTube video has an eerie prescience about it.

bluesmart company

Should an international travel brand, having received $25 million dollars of crowdsourced and venture capital funding have seen a major regulation change in their main product market? Probably.

In 2017, in the midst of American Airline carriers taking matters into their hands before an FAA ban, everyone except the Bluesmart Company seemed to see it occurring.

Spot the difference between the responses of differing smart luggage brands in 2017:

80% of U.S. air traffic will restrict non-removable batteries. The good news is that many manufacturers already make suitcases with removable batteries, including Away, Raden, Samsara, Arlo Skye, and Barracuda.

CNN Traveler

Bluesmart, however, does not make bags that comply with the new policy, though the company has plans to meet with major airlines in hopes of making their non-removable batteries exempt from the ban.

CNN Traveler

As international regulations company Labelmaster pointed out following their ban, some European airlines had been imposing restrictions on Lithium-ion batteries since 2015. In addition, ICAO (the international regulatory body) had also brought in rules prohibiting lithium-ion batteries being shipped by air in 2016.

Regardless of how the situation arose, once the poster child of smart luggage companies — Bluesmart Company — faded into obscurity, leaving room for competitors like Away to thrive.

  1. Travelpro got Bluesmart’s innovative design patents
  2. Creditors got to pick over the remnants of Bluesmart’s finance and consumers cash
  3. Crowdfunding customers got a “thoughtful message” on Twitter

We want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who supported this venture since its inception.

Bluesmart — 2018

Bluesmart Inc, 2014 – 2018. It turns out, they weren’t that smart after all.