Amid a spate of high-tech bags on their way to market this spring, the HiSmart convertible urban bag by Lepow aims to stand out, thanks to a two-in-one chip that enables technology the Silicon Valley company has been working on for nearly three years.
“So far, a smart bag is just a portable charging station. We thought, ‘We can do more than that,’” Julianna He, Lepow cofounder and chief operating officer, said during a demonstration of the bag, whose Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign launched recently.
With the special chip, embedded in a compact remote-control device encased in a leather-accented strap, the bag delivers Bluetooth connectivity and location-based functionality. Many high-tech bags only offer one or the other. Wearers can use the bag to send and receive phone calls, record voice memos, control music and remote-trigger a smartphone’s camera shutter for hands-free photography. A pinning feature makes it possible to capture a specific location — say, a parking space — with a press of the remote and return to it later with the help of a mobile app. The bag is also capable of ringing misplaced phones and alerting one’s phone when it’s about to exceed pairing range, a handy feature that could help prevent accidentally leaving the bag behind.
Designed for men and women, the bag comes in waterproof black or brown canvas with Italian leather accents and German Fidlock magnetic closures. Convertible from an 18-inch backpack into a 12-inch messenger style, the one-and-a-half pound bag contains 12 interior pockets, including sleeves for a laptop and tablet devices. A modular design for the remote control means the device can be removed and switched out when future, upgraded versions become available.
Executives from Lepow, who say the company name translates to “happiness power” from Chinese, say they opted to crowdfund their latest project in order to get consumer feedback as they launch what is the company’s first soft goods product.
“We think fashion tech is the future,” He said of the company’s expansion beyond portable technology accessories.
Founded in 2011, with offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Shenzhen, China, Lepow also sells colorful, design-minded portable batteries, smartphone charging cases and Bluetooth speakers. With a $50,000 goal intended for use toward production costs, the crowdfunding campaign is offering 500 pre-orders for $189 each, a 37 percent discount off the HiSmart’s expected $299 retail price.
The campaign ends at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on April 15. The first units are slated to ship to backers in July.