Backpacks with integrated chargers – take the Timbuk2 Power Commute and TYLT Energi+ – aren't new, but start-up AMPL Labs believes it's taken the next step in what it's calling the world's smartest backpack. Not only does the Smartbag include an integrated charging port in every pocket, it lets you monitor and control the process from your smartphone.
The Smartbag is built to be an all-in-one solution for today's wired commuter, offering a space to transport, protect and recharge portable electronics like laptops, smartphones and tablets. The backpack includes an integrated 18.5-Wh lithium-polymer battery hooked to seven individual USB ports – one for every single pocket.
The base battery charges in 1.5 hours and offers enough power to charge a smartphone two to three times. If you need more juice, you can add up to three expansion SmartBatteries, which come in two sizes: the $59, 18.5-Wh TabletBoost, which provides 10+ hours of added battery life on an iPad Air 2, and the $139, 55-Wh LaptopBoost, which gives the 13-in MacBook Air an extra 14 hours. The MacBook Air and other laptops will need to use AMPL's SmartInverter for charging; it comes packaged with the LaptopBoost battery for $179. AMPL's adaptive power management system helps the pack deliver fast, stable charging.
The Smartbag's charging hardware does seem slicker and more robust than the drop-in batteries featured in other charging backpacks, but what really supports AMPL's "smartest backpack" claim is the built-in Bluetooth LE and accompanying app. The app allows you to monitor charging status and adjust the charging priority of your devices – it strikes us as a bit like an electric vehicle charging app for a backpack. With the help of a backpack-integrated sensor set, the app even monitors internal temperature, weather conditions and drop force and can provide an alert if you walk off and seemingly forget the pack. By sliding your smartphone in the shoulder strap charge holster you can keep app monitoring features close at hand while still powering your battery.
The bag's electronics and sensors are built into a front-mounted molded nylon case that includes an external OLED display and touch controls for system status monitoring. The pack's main body is made from padded 600D polyester coated with a water-resistant treatment, offering protection from weather, bumps and drops. An adjustable, lay-flat laptop sleeve protects your notebook, and the pack offers a total of 29 liters (1,780 cu in) of storage capacity.
AMPL plans to get the Smartbag to market by Northern Hemisphere summer, starting at US$299 for the pack with single SmartBattery. The design took home two CES 2015 Innovation Awards at last week's CES show.
Source: AMPL Labs