By SHANNON KELLY
This week, USA Today published a story on the 10 Best Travel Inventions of All Time. The picks are obvious (jet plane, for example), but true. Still, we think some better inventions have cropped up—or are coming soon—that improve on these basics.
Hotel Key Card
Even better: Using your cell phone to unlock your room door. This means no need to check in at the front desk and nothing to return on your way out.
Even better: Google Wallet allows you to use your smartphone as a credit card, simply by tapping it against a reader. It’s not available at all retailers yet, hasn’t been launched in Canada, and has had some security problems, but we anticipate bidding adieu to wallets overflowing with credit cards, store cards, library cards, etc., in the near future.
Travel Adapters and Converters
Even better: Currently, with solar-fueled chargers you can efficiently power devices smaller than a laptop, though you generally need direct sunlight and charging time can be slow. More convenient for travellers may be portable fuel cells, such as the PowerTrekk, available at REI in the U.S. this spring. It’s faster than solar, and all you need is a bit of water to power your phone, GPS device, camera or other small gadget. Both technologies are bound to improve, so look for green ways to charge even your laptop and iPad soon.
Even better: Okay, there’s nothing better than the smartphone…yet. But several companies have been producing “smartwatches” (see this and this) that sync with your smartphone so you can get Twitter and Facebook updates, access e-mail and music, use apps, and even answer phone calls—all 007 style, without fumbling for your phone in your pocket or purse. Is it only a matter of time before our phones move to our wrists, unlock our doors and pay for our sushi?
For all ten of the “best travel inventions of all time,” see USAToday.com.