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  • Cheryl Tan

Samsonite Konnect-I: Google’s Touch-sensitive Smart Backpack

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

The Samsonite Konnect-I is a touch-sensitive smart backpack that comes with Google’s Jacquard technology. This is probably the most accessible and practical product in its line up. 

The under S$300 Samsonite Konnect-I is definitely not the most affordable laptop backpack. But if you compare it with last year’s Yves Saint Laurent’s Cit E backpack, which is the only other backpack that uses Google’s Jacquard technology and goes for just under S$1,400… Well, in this instance, the Konnect-I is definitely the more accessible one. 

Currently, there are only 4 products that incorporate this Google technology. Two designs of Levis’s jackets, one YSL bag and one Adidas football boots. I think it’s safe to say that a Samsonite Laptop backpack will be the more practical choice, especially when you know of its capability. 

Samsonite is known for making durable and high quality of workmanship in their luggage and travel bags and you can definitely enjoy that with the Konnect-I. It comes in 2 versions, the 18-litre slim version and the 20-litre standard version. There is just a slight difference in price and its size, but both can hold a 15” laptop and have plentiful sleeves and pockets to better organize your gadgets and accessories.

We really like that it is water repellent, very well padded especially at the shoulder and lower back, has reflective stripes that make a full black backpack much safer to use in the night, and definitely the smart sleeve that can come in very handy when travelling with luggage. 

Now let’s talk about the technology. 

The surface of the left shoulder strap is put together with very unique threads. The thin threads are made from conductive metal alloys so that they can be weaved in with other natural and synthetic fibres to create yarns that are highly conductive. The threads are then linked to a holder where a small, lightweight dongle is placed. This dongle connects directly to your phone via Bluetooth BLE.

There are four ways you can interact with the strap; Brush Up, Brush Down, Double Tap and Cover, and you can then assign each gesture with a command. You can use these gestures to control your audio player, take selfies, find your phone, check your day with Google…and many more. Those that we have specifically mentioned are basically the ones that we see more practical use. These Google services are typically made for users who have their headphones and earbuds on. The other commands like dropping pins on places, using it as a tally counter, making the tiny led light blink in different colours, asking Google questions… are services that we are not entirely sure anyone will use the strap to access. 

You can also assign how you want to be alerted when your phone receives a notification like phone calls and messages. You can have it vibrate or have the tiny LED on the dongle flash in different colours. The vibration on the strap is pretty noticeable and serves well as an alert but the LED flashes are not really that prominent. There are two commands that we thought would be very useful. The Always Together command that alerts you when your phone is moved away from your backpack, or vice versa, and the Lift-share command that alerts you when your booked ride is near you. Unfortunately, only services like Lyft and Uber app can be paired and neither of these ride-hailing services are available to us in Singapore. 

The battery life of the Konnect-I is really good. It can last you weeks before a recharge is needed. One effective way it manages its battery life is by putting the dongle to sleep whenever your phone is moved away and disconnected. To wake up and connect the dongle back to your phone is pretty seamless. Just tap on the strap and wait for about a few seconds and you are good to go.

Google’s side project “Jacquard” started in 2015 and its objective is to make your everyday’s wear, like clothes, shoes, bags… smarter. So far there are only 5 products that were developed with the partnerships and from what we see, the take-up rate for this technology has been really slow and we can understand why. The technology basically serves as an extension for users to interact with their phones and honestly, we see it more useful for bikers and cyclists where they have difficulty accessing their mobile phones.

Furthermore, audio devices and smartwatches have made it even easier to interact with our phones. With the limited functionality and average touch sensitivity of the “Jacquard”, the novelty of this technology may have made it challenging for it to go mainstream. That said, if you are someone who is geeky enough and is looking for a durable, well made, well-compartmentalised backpack, the Konnect-I sure fits the bill. 

The Samsonite Konnect-i (starting from S$300) is available on Lazada, the Samsonite exclusive store and the showroom @WorkPack in Funan exclusively for three weeks, followed by selected Samsonite retail stores.

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