At CES, it is not unreasonable to expect the unexpected. This year, what was unexpected was the introduction of the POP-I connected backpack.
Nothing else we encountered at CES generated more buzz during the run-up to the opening of the convention. That is saying a lot considering that the form factor is basically nothing more than a traditional backpack with a window on the back to make way for an e-ink display.
That is not a lot when you think about it, but the combination is nowhere as gratuitous as one might expect. The backpack piece itself is just that, a backpack. It has all the standard pockets one would expect, including a padded area for a laptop.
The e-ink display will be available in two sizes, 4.7-inches, or 10-inches. The panels are very thin and extremely efficient, offering up to one-month’s battery life. The displays are also flexible and shatterproof, a handy combination for something like a backpack.
Expressing yourself on the POP-I backpack is simple, take a picture with the companion mobile app, and then select the photo from the library. The connection is made via Bluetooth. That is really all there is to it, but the result is somewhat more substantial than the process itself.
The company picked a good piece to get a hook into a younger crowd that has grown-up around the idea of expression through photos on various social media. From this, POP-I has other product concepts already under development (one of which we saw, but are not allowed to talk about – it is pretty neat) which entail custom expressions with products many of us live with daily. The POP-I backpack also serves as a type of reference design so the company (who holds some patents), which made it a goal to create a “buzz” with other accessory makers, could drive adoption of the concept.
The POP-I backpack will be available in either waxed canvas or leather, and will cost between $100 and $400. It will ship later this year, and you can sign up for updates on their website.