Just in time for back to school, at least two backpack manufacturers are bringing to market "smart packs" that come with cord ports for MP3 players, CD players and the ever-present iPods. JanSport Inc. has created a line of technologically savvy backpacks for students utilizing technology originaly designed for military use. In its LiveWire line of backpacks, wearers can connect iPod earbuds into one of the straps on the backpack and put the iPod itself in another pocket. This prevents the cords from becoming entangled in other pieces of clothing or crushed by other stuff in the pack.
Advanced LiveWire backpack models have iPod controls on the backpack straps. There is also a model that alows for a cell phone to be answered using strap controls. Price estimates for these models are $70.
Less concerned with making a fashion statement and more concerned with environmentally sound practices, Voltaic Systems Inc. has designed a backpack that includes solar panels capable of powering MP3 players and cellphones. The panels connect to a lithium ion battery embedded in the backpack. Technophiles as well as emergency response workers working in locations off the grid are finding this backpack very helpful. The $239 price tag seems a bit much for school hallways, but not for first-on -the-ground disaster relief workers.
And then there are the kids who are so cool they no longer care about being cool. According to Ylan Mui of The Washington Post, Lands' End has created an anti-tech pack. It's a plain canvas backpack. Nice to know retro -- and technology-free -- is the new cool.