Smartwatches are one way to use your phone while it's stuck in your bag. Lepow, creator of the HiSmart Pack, has another idea: what if the bag itself could sync with your phone? The HiSmart Pack is a combination backpack and messenger bag, with a waterproof canvas body and a leather strap. The real draw, though, is the metal wheel embedded in that strap, which acts as a simple control system for your phone. If you connect via Bluetooth and plug a microphone into the connected jack, your bag will vibrate when you get a phone call, and you can answer it by pressing a button.
The version on display at CES wasn't much more complex than that. But Lepow is announcing an Indiegogo campaign later this year for a second prototype, which will sell for $299 and includes a fuller feature set. Besides letting you answer the phone, you'll be able to play and pause music, as well as do some very basic mapping. If the bag gets too far from your phone, it can buzz to remind you, and pressing a button will drop a pin on Google Maps, so you can do something like mark the place you left your car and then look for it using a mobile app.
Granted, you can find trackers implanted in virtually any accessory at CES, and the HiSmart Bag isn't a wonder of design. It's got 17 convenient pockets all over it, you can flip a few pieces around to turn it from a long-strapped messenger bag to a short-strapped backpack, and the electronics are tastefully low-key — you might not even notice them from a distance. But the nearly unadorned canvas looks a little too shiny and austere, and the black plastic fasteners on the brown bag don't look nearly as nice as the brushed metal on the black one.
Lepow, though, has put welcome effort into making the bag modular and upgradable. The controller and headphone jack will be removable, so you can remove them to swap in a new unit in the future, or even take the strap padding off and use it on something else. A wireless bag shouldn't be on anybody's must-buy list right now, but Lepow is taking a good, simple idea and running with it.