Given that bags really haven’t changed much over the last century, Dutch entrepreneur Marijn Berk's charmingly absolute Jedi Mind Trick suggestion that bags, “no longer meet our needs,” makes me want to respond, “Bags no longer meet my needs, please tell me more, Marijn.” He does, in his video for the Phorce Smart Bag, a computer bag with an integrated battery pack slated to ship in May 2013.
While I can wax enthusiastically about the marketing, I can’t gush about a bag that doesn’t yet exist – the product is still in the functional prototype stage. But what’s promised are two versions of the bag. One will juice up to three gadgets at once - tablets, smartphones, laptops, and countless other devices, too, as long as they have USB ports. A second bag will have the same three USB charging ports, but will also be able to extend your MacBook’s battery life (not recharge its battery, a technical limitation) for up to seven additional hours.
A bag with an integrated, gadget-charging battery already sounded like a delightful 007ish rethink of the portable charger, but there’s more. Bluetooth connectivity between your smart phone and the bag’s battery will enable the bag to text you if you forget it someplace (assuming your smart phone isn’t charging in said forgotten smart bag). Phorce’s iOS and Android app will also clue you in about how much power is left in the integrated battery, which itself can be fully recharged via a wall charger in four hours.
The bag will come in red, black, or green, and from its photo is fairly utilitarian-looking. The design makes sense as the bag does all sorts of utilitarian things, such as converting from a messenger bag to shoulder bag to backpack to briefcase. An expansion zipper will also permit 240 cubic inches of additional space. Speaking of zippers, they reportedly will be waterproof and the bag itself will be made of a water-resistant outer shell (which makes me think that Berk and Phorce bag designer James Jeffrey will encounter demand for wheelie bags and luggage that repel rain and wetness).
The USB version of the bag will retail for $299, the Mac version $449, but if you pledge money to back the bag’s development through Kickstarter (not something I’ve advocating, I’m just letting you know) you can currently get the USB bag for $219, the Mac bag for $299. And if you pledge ten grand or more, Marijn and James will give you the Phorce bag of your choice plus will invite you and a friend to Amsterdam for a weekend, put you up on a houseboat, and show you a “head smashing, tile crushing good time.”
The promise of that Amsterdam sojourn tells you everything you need to know about the culture likely to develop around this bag. If the Phorce duo manages to ship on schedule with batteries relatively devoid of first-generation bugs (the company would do well to have a capable customer service unit standing by), I predict there will be a sizable audience feeling the Phorce.