Feeds

A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally

Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Trakdot is a little device you hide in your suitcase so that if an airline loses your luggage, you can, in theory, find it. Inside is a SIM card with a global roaming agreement, and the necessary electronics to connect to GSM mobile networks.

As the aeroplane trundles down the runway, the gadget uses an accelerometer to detect that it's going really fast and so, like any good international traveller, it goes to sleep. Then after a preset period, it wakes up, and wonders: "Are we nearly there yet?" It can answer its own question in a receive-only mode, as GSM has protocols for doing so whether you're moving slowly, fairly slowly or quickly.

This means it doesn't contravene any rules on the use of radios in aircraft, and it is approved by the FCC, FAA and various other international bodies for use. Trakdot claim a three to four-week batty life for its luggage black box.

The Trakdot locator

Your suitcase's black box

Modern mobile cell networks are well-designed so that aircraft in flight can not receive their signals, so for the most part it's unlikely that a mid-air Samsonite will think it has made landfall.

If, however, it picks up transmissions from a mobile phone network, it assumes that it has arrived and wakes up fully. It then establishes the cell tower's identity, which it sends home. Trackdot maintains a database of cell IDs around airports, and works out where the luggage has arrived. It then sends the owner a text message identifying which bag is at which airport.

There is no GPS because it's not particularly useful when the device is in a baggage hold: the chances of acquiring one, let alone three or four, satellite signals is remote.

If your flight has multiple stops, or more accurately if the flight the bags were on had multiple stops, a map on the Trakdot website shows where it has been and when.

There are a few limitations. Japan has no GSM coverage, and Trakdot doesn't have a roaming agreement with Italy. The device costs £79.99 in the UK, and after the first year there is an annual $12 (£7.18) fee for the SIM contract.

But that's not too much to pay for the knowledge that your luggage is lost and that you should give up waiting at the baggage carousel. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.