If you’re the kind of person who just can’t stop spending, the iBag2 is for you. The handbag, launched by personal finance website Finder.com, is part of a collaboration between Colmac Robotics LTD in Ireland Ltd and New York-based fashion designer Geova Rodriguez. The smart gadget, which resembles a bucket bag, has a series of built-in features, including a GPS tracking feature that warns you via amber LED lights and vibrations when you are nearing one of your pre-programmed vulnerable spending zones. The bag even takes spending prevention a step further by self-locking. The accessory also has two USB ports: one for charging the bag and one for charging a smartphone — as well as a backup battery. Michelle Hutchison, Global Head of PR at Money Expert at Finder.com, explains how the new gizmo could help shopaholics save some serious case.
How did you come up with the idea to create the iBag2?
We created the iBag2 after doing some research and discovering the concerning level of credit card debt and impulsive spending habits of Americans. We also conducted the research in Australia and the UK and found similar alarming results. We created the first iBag in Australia two years ago and now we’re relaunching the bag with upgraded design and technology.
How does it work?
It uses a microprocessor that is connected to a GPS, timer, vibration motors, colored lights, RFID technology, Bluetooth and electromagnets inside the bag. You program the bag to lock at certain times of the day and at certain locations. When you're within about 300 feet of your "danger spending zones" the strap vibrates and amber-colored lights flash. Within about 30 feet it will vibrate, flash red and then lock. At certain times of the day it will lock. Every time you take your wallet out of your bag it will flash blue inside. It vibrates and amber lights flash every two hours as a reminder to reapply sunscreen and it also uses Bluetooth technology which sends an alert to your Smartphone if the bag gets a certain distance from you, to prevent it from being lost or stolen.
How exactly could it help in the struggle against shopping addiction?
iBag2 is designed to give users physical cues to remind them of their bad spending habits. It can help empower people to get on top of their impulsive urges by being more conscious of their spending decisions. It is too easy for many people to spend money on their credit cards and not realize how much money they have spent because you can hand over a piece of plastic without looking at the price, signing a receipt and even setting up automatic payments, so you won't even need to know your credit card balance. It's too easy to get into debt and get out of control, so the iBag2 can help pull people's bad spending habits back in line.
What are iBag2’s benefits?
The benefit of using the iBag2 is to help people get their financial situations under control. Credit card debt is a serious concern around the world and the iBag2 could help many people lower their debts and help them learn to live within their means.
Are you actually thinking of making the smart bag available to the public?
We have a form that allows people to register their interest and if we get enough interest we will go into production.
Its price is $5,000. Surely this is an example of overspending?
Initially it will retail for about $5,000 because of the technology and couture fashion design on the exterior of the bag. The first 500 bags will be individually made and uniquely designed. Following that, we can then mass produce the bags which will bring the cost down to about $300 each.
We found that many men were impulsive spenders too, so we're working on a men's version to be released in December 2016.