By Michelle Lui
Make life on the road easier with these great innovations for the business traveler.
Ah, business travel. We love it for the (sometimes) productive meetings held on the road, but often hate it for the inconveniences it brings. Luckily, there are innovative products and services that make professional nomadic life a bit easier. As an Inovāter, I’m regularly on the lookout for innovation, so I thought I’d share some of my recent findings with you:
In between meetings, I tend to kill time in Starbucks, in bookstores or on a park bench. But, I inevitably feel guilty about taking up a seat at Starbucks after I finish my drink, feeling weird about hanging out in the self help aisle of the bookstore (usually the most empty section) for an hour, and feeling too hot/cold/whatever sitting outside. And, it’s nearly impossible to be productive at these public spaces.
Thankfully, the fine folks at breather have set up quiet, private spaces throughout New York and Montreal (more locations coming soon) that can be rented by the hour for travelers to rest, hold small meetings or get some work done. Reservations can be made with a mobile or website app and travelers can unlock the spaces through a code. Easy peasy. So, for $25/hour in New York or $15/hour in Montreal, enjoy some much-needed me time.
Although we’re very much in a digital age, there are still many people out there who prefer the feel of paper. If you tend to finish writing reports on the road and consequently run back-and-forth to Kinko’s, you may want to invest in a mini mobile robotic printer, created by ZUtA Labs. It’s a handy dandy small (11.5 cm in diameter and 10 cm high) wireless printer that can print up to 1,000 pages on one ink cartridge.
The inventors are currently allowing early adopters to order printers through their kickstarter campaign for a $200 pledge. If you’re interested, hurry on over because the project will be funded on May 10. After that, you’ll need to wait until it’s released to market.
Take a look at any outlet at the airport and you’ll likely see a tangle of mobile phone chargers. Whether it be because they’re emailing, using their phone to tether for Internet connection or making phone calls (yes, people still use their phones these days to actually call and speak to others), business travelers tend to drain mobile phone batteries like it’s going out of style.
A full charge of mobile devices using lithium ion battery technology can often take a few hours, which is a few hours more than business travelers have to tether themselves to an electrical outlet. An Israeli nanotechnology company, StoreDot, has taken on the challenge of charging devices at a much more desirable speed by creating a gadget that utilizes a combination of high-density energy storage cells and electrodes to rapidly charge batteries. In fact, it can fully charge a Samsung Galaxy S4 in 30 seconds.
If I’ve built up your excitement for this, I apologize now. Unfortunately, this invention is still in prototype stage, so it’s not available in the market. However, it’s expected to be consumer-ready by 2016.