ForwardX, a luggage manufacturer, has raised $10 million in financing. Its soon-to-debut Ovis brand luggage uses cameras and object-recognition software to follow a traveler around, by their side, like a dog.
CDH Venture and Eastern Bell Venture Capital led the round. The company, founded in late 2016 in Beijing, China, separately raised $1 million from angel investors.
“This is the first time a suitcase has been implanted with a pair of eyes and brain,” said Nicolas Chee, CEO of FowardX Robotics. Noting that the Ovis represents a meeting between a wheeled gadget and computer vision, Chee says that the team has “empowered Ovis with the intelligence and cognition to tackle the complex problem of not just following, but predicting your path, while avoiding obstacles.”
The Ovis has been branded as the “world’s first self-driving carry-on,” and features an array of advanced tech, including a 170-degree wide-angle lens and built-in facial recognition software, which allow the device to follow you at up to 7 miles per hour throughout the terminal. Other nifty features — namely those tailored toward obstacle avoidance — work in tandem with the suitcase’s tracking algorithm, while a smart wristband works to keep would-be thieves at bay. If the suitcase happens wanders out of range, the aforementioned bracelet will let you know.
Smart luggage is a tough category. Previous attempts by companies like BlueSmart stumbled due to government regulations about batteries and other factors. ForwardX claimed it could avoid those problems.
A separate concern: The startup only sold a few hundred in advance orders and retail distribution will be costly.