Luggage Trauma Sensor: Telling the Story of Luggage

Four Luggage Trauma Sensors built for Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism

Exploring the possibilities of custom built open-source sensor hardware for storytelling, the Luggage Trauma Sensor project senses and records the abuse a piece of checked luggage experiences after you hand it over to the airline. The project was done in collaboration with Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and research fellow Fergus Pitt.

Image of luggage sensor motion with annotations

The graph above shows data pulled from one of Ben’s journeys to Nairobi from Lincoln, Nebraska. The “Reading” values on the y-axis indicate g-forces experienced by the sensor. The greatest luggage impacts occurred in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Paris. Ben flew on Delta Airlines to Paris, and KLM to Nairobi.