There were 4.25 billion pieces of checked luggage at airports worldwide in 2015 alone of that, 23 million pieces were mishandled - that’s according to estimates provided by SITA, the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology company, with over 95% of all international destinations covered by their extensive network.
SITA's annual baggage report provides an insight into a range of baggage handling statistics, trends, laws and industry costs. This includes the recently announced changes for baggage tracking, set to come into effect in June 2018. This change means airlines will require the technology and processes to track luggage from check in, onto the plane, and into the arrivals or transfer area. The information will then be shared with the next airline or airport in the process. The new benchmark signals a fundamental change on how luggage will be tracked and the types of technology which will be utilized, requiring a holistic system where information is shared across airlines and airports.
While the numbers reflected in the report show the overall volume of lost bags have declined (this is mostly due to the self-serve check in process which is considered a way to lessen the risk of losing your own checked bag). No doubt debate will continue around the type of universal solution which will ultimately be provided to the benefit of consumers, I've provided a short list of options for those who prefer to manage their own assets through the use of luggage tag tracking technology, utilizing both passive and active methodology.
A Web/GPS Enabled QR Smart Aluminium Convertible Luggage Tag. Dynotag has no monthly recurring fees ever so it’s worth considering this product to tag anything of value which might go astray, from expensive sports equipment to the family pet and almost everything in between.
As the Dynotag GPS tags and labels vary in size and design, they can be affixed to almost anything, including key rings, luggage or a bracelet. Dynotags are a patented, advanced location enabled and web based smart tagging system offering an information sharing solution to provide the user with peace of mind. Once purchased, each Dynotag comes with a free lifetime subscription to the Dynotag service with sufficient storage included in the purchase. The Dynotag Cloud Service (DCS) retains the account and location services based information which can be accessed at any time.
The number one reason lost luggage remains lost is due to the finder not having any information on the bag to help the finder contact the owner. That is why lost and found rooms in transit centers, convention halls, hotels, bars and restaurants are full of nice things that cannot find their way back to their owners, including luggage.
Most people want to do the right thing however for the most part, they will not go out of their way if the owner information is not readily available. Any tagging system has to provide complete and accurate information with a reward option to provide an incentive to contact the owner. A previous address from five years ago, or the outdated mobile phone number will not be any good when traveling away from home.
It’s risky to provide detailed contact information for any random person to read especially at the airport, or bus station. Even a telephone number, email address can give away more than what you are prepared to share with strangers, especially women traveling alone. Dynotag allows the owner to control who sees what information and when. Dynotag owners can update the tag information at any time.
How Does The Location Tracking Function Work?
Dynotag uses passive technologies in combination with the viewers smartphone, computer or laptop to read the tag which supplies the location information. The benefit being these technologies use multiple mechanisms to provide location information including GPS, Cell Tower and Wi-Fi, providing high quality location information, even indoors where GPS signals struggle.
While GPS based location tracking systems are popular there are a number of things to consider when determining if a GPS location tracking device is suitable, with many preferring the passive option as it’s low maintenance, doesn’t require batteries to power the electronics or waterproofing, or worse still, a monthly or annual subscription. Dynotags do not have any electronics, nor do they require battery power, there are no subscriptions whatsoever and are robust in their design.
Information associated with the Dynotag cannot be lost, as it resides in the cloud and replacement tags can be obtained should the original become lost, which are then easily cloned using the ‘clone tag’ facility during registration.
The location tracking functionality utilized by Dynotag combines the Dynotag Cloud Service (DCS) together with the QR scanning application or web browser to view the tag information, which leapfrogs the technology provided already in all smart phones. Smart phone technology has very good location services as they utilize multiple ways in order to pinpoint the device location including the cellular network, Wi-Fi hotspots and in-built GPS, providing excellent location accuracy.
Using a QR tag app, information is easily read by scanning the tag. Dynotag owners can easily log in and view the Dynotag, which indicates the asset location using a map with ‘pins’ on it denoting the locations of access, sorted in order, most recent first and detailing time, location and estimated precision information. The map viewer is only visible to the owner of the tag.
When a third party views the tag information after scanning the tag using the QR app, or by visiting the web address of the tag using a computer browser, the Dynotag requests from the viewer asking ‘Dynotag wants to learn your location, OK? The viewer then has the choice to respond either yes, wherein the coordinates will be sent to the server, or no, then the precise coordinate information from that viewer is not accurately provided. However, DCS still receives the Internet address of the viewer and attempts to infer the location from there. Precision is unfortunately lower in that scenario.
In some cases the tags are used to share information in a social network post and accesses can take place from all over the planet within minutes. In other words, physical scanning of the QR code is not required to read the Dynotag contents – all one needs to do is get the web address of the Dynotag – and click on that link. The DCS service records all tag view accesses in the “Access Log” and pins the recent ones on the owners “tag view map” for a quick and convenient review.
Access log entries with map icons indicate location information was acquired from the viewing device, where you can click the map icon to launch google maps on these coordinates. When there is no location information available from the viewer, DCS logs the IP address of the viewer together with a rough, imprecise estimate of location based on that IP address. You can see one type of entry in this sample access log snippet:
The tags themselves are robust and secure as they don’t contain any electronic components and require no batteries. Dynotags are available in a number of styles including:
Synthetic Tags: These thin, lightweight tags are manufactured from synthetic material and laminated on both sides providing a product which can stand up in any environment.
Metal Tags: Made from strong steel and polymer coated providing a product which is waterproof.
Stickers: Waterproof and made from synthetic materials, simply peel away to strongly adhere to just about any flat or gently curved surface.
How Many Ways Can Dynotags Be Used?
Limited only by your imagination the tags can be attached to just about any object and service almost any application including:
Property Tag And Property Stickers
Luggage, bags, electronics, laptops - any property you want to recover. Share as little or as much as you want on your tags, update the information even after your property is out of sight! Tags are available in aluminium with the option of a steel loop to secure it to any item of luggage. Tags come in a range of shapes and colors to suit any taste.
Emergency Information Tags
Allergies? Medical Conditions? Consent Forms? Insurance information? You can store a variety of vital information in these specially designed tags developed in cooperation with First Responders. Update anytime. Keep all or parts of the information securely password protected. The old style medical bracelet has now become redundant.
Pets need all the help they can get when they go missing or get injured. Using the range of Super Pet Tag products users can store an entire lifetime worth of medical, licensing and owner information on a Dynotag which can be updated anytime as needed.
Asset Management Tags
If you need to keep tabs on a lot of equipment, property or tools, range of specially designed economical, bulk tags are available without any special software.
Wingmate Smart Tag
These tags provide a secure way to store personal contact information which can be attached to any traveling valuables including luggage and electronics. Each tag is embedded with an NFC – Near Field Communication chip that when read by the finder of the lost item, provides access to information provided for viewing by the owner of the item.
Once the NFC chip is scanned, or the QR code has been read by a smart phone with a QR reader installed, the finder is given access to WingMate's lost and found portal. The finder is given access defined by the owner using any number of methods including chatting anonymously or using WingMate's instant messenger system.
WingMate is considered to be one of the most versatile information protection and asset recovery systems around. Affix tags to anything from smartphones, tablets, laptops, luggage and pets. Never write on a luggage tag again - and yet have your information, as much or as little as you like accessed by the finder at anytime, anywhere around the world. WingMate increases the effectiveness of recovering lost items and was developed by two airline pilots. The product has been ‘flight crew’ tested to be the best and last luggage tag you’ll ever need.
How Does Wingmate Work?
Wingmate tags are embedded with a NFC chip which when read by a QR reader, provides instant access to securely stored information provided by the owner of the tag. Only contact information the owner wishes to share is seen when accessed through Wingmate’s Lost and Found portal.
Wingmate is able to store information including, Name, Telephone Number, Company, Address and Email address. Wingmate tags use passive tracking technology, therefore they do not actively track the item. No batteries are required and in the event the finder does not have access to QR reader technology or NFC then the serial number listed on the tag can be entered in the Wingmate portal, providing access to the supplied information associated with the tag.
It’s worth mentioning Apple devices do not currently provide users with an unlocked NFC API for IOS phones or Ipad, so the QR reader functionality allows for access to information until such time as this occurs. If the tag is read by an Android, Windows or other device, the tag number is automatically populated into the portal screen, whereas it should be entered manually when using an Iphone to read the tag.
Wingmate Tag Features
Thicker: WingMate Luggage Tags are 25% thicker than standard tags, providing additional durability.
UV Protected: UV spot gloss letters standout on the matte finished background providing a sleek sophisticated look.
Durable: Made using a durable PVC composite, the tags are built to last.
Loop: Each tag comes with a 6-inch clear plastic loop which attaches easily to any style of luggage.
Lugloc 002 Luggage Locator
LugLoc combines cell tower connected geo-tracking with an easy to use mobile app to automatically monitor luggage in real time at any airport or other location throughout the world. The LugLoc is packed away inside luggage or bag keeping it out of sight, while it goes to work mapping the location of the item wherever it goes. LugLoc is fitted with its own sim card which for the first month is free.
LugLoc subscribers are able to purchase ‘traces’ after the free 15-day initial trial period after which they can be purchased in blocks as opposed to a monthly fee. Once powered up after charging for a period of 24 hours, the LugLoc can hold its own for a period of up to 15 days. The cell tower connected technology provides a reliable source of data both indoors and outside.
The patented Tri-axial Accelerometer which is compliant to FAA, TSA and FCC standards allows the device to detect flight, and drops into sleep mode when the plane takes off, and wakes up upon landing. Proximity tracking via Bluetooth provides a second layer of protection during tracking. The unit is slim in design and lightweight, taking up only a small footprint in the luggage.
When inside the airport and on board, the LugLoc does the job as expected, however in the suburbs its ability to accurately locate items is not always specific enough to narrow down the location specifically, in one instance being located three blocks away from its actual location.
A spokesperson explained this issue by stating location accuracy is a direct correlation between how the device utilizes the GSM technology which isn’t always as accurate when compared to GPS technology. However the trade-off for GPS accuracy would seriously deplete the battery life of the product.
So it’s worth considering before purchasing where and how you will use this piece of tech. LugLoc’s companion apps are available for iOS and Android mobile smart phones. Featured on CNN as a top travel accessory and it’s pay as you go service plans, it may just meet your travel needs in the short, medium and long term.
Trakdot Luggage Tracker
Created by GlobaTrac one of the world leaders in providing low cost global positioning solutions, Trakdot users can access a leading positioning solution for a reasonable price. The unit is compact, about the size of a deck of playing cards making it compact enough to fit into the most overfilled suitcase.
Location updates are provided using an app, SMS, email or the Trakdot website, providing multiple options to check the location of luggage. The unit requires two ‘AA’ sized batteries which are included in the box together with a luggage tag, quick start guide and the first year's subscription.
Out of the box it’s a simple matter of registering the unit online, inserting the supplied batteries and turning the unit on. The device is then connected to your account. It’s easy to add any number of phone numbers or email addresses to keep loved ones in touch with your ever-changing locations. Once powered up the batteries can last up to 250 hours, (do not use lithium-ion batteries) providing peace of mind should your travels take you many thousands of miles away from home.
Always use good quality batteries to ensure you get the longest use before changing batteries. Before traveling, consider the service requires an international cell phone service in order to operate in other countries, even then the service is not available in Japan or South Korea as these countries do not use the GSM network.
Each time the unit is powered up it provides a battery status report to your mobile phone keeping you conscious of when the batteries are due for replacement. Once arriving at your destination, turn your mobile phone on to receive a text or email notifying where you bag is once the plane has landed. On the return trip, the unit comes in handy too as often expensive overseas purchases are contained within your luggage which lets you keep an eye on the goodies.
To initiate the Bluetooth feature of the unit, remember to sync it to your mobile before traveling. This is done by locating the small button situated near the power button. Place a paper clip on the button and push down, a blue light will begin to blink, then pair the unit to your smart phone. Once the unit is paired to the phone, you then need to pair it to the Trakdot app. The Bluetooth feature allows the user to receive more specific location information.
The Trakdot is approved by the FCC and is also FAA compliant, meaning that once the Trakdot is in the hold of the aircraft, it detects the speed of the aircraft, the unit automatically switches into sleep mode, when the aircraft accelerates for take-off. The same is true for landing converting from sleep mode to active. Trakdot uses the GSM cellular network rather than GPS making it a more cost-effective solution for those on a budget. However the compromise is location accuracy as the unit provides an accuracy range of around thirty feet, which for some could be considered problematic.
Before heading off to the airport, and once the device is powered up, make sure to check the status light to inform you of the following:
Green: The device has successfully registered with the network.
Red: The device is currently not registered to the network.
Blue: The device is currently in sleep mode and will retry to connect to the cellular network.
It’s worth considering too, users will only receive notifications of the location of their luggage when in or near an airport location which many purchasers fail to realize.
Which luggage tracking system do you use?