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Shudder at the thought of checking in your luggage at the airport? Bagtrakka may be the solution for you.

Developed by UK-based startup Global Location Systems, Bagtrakka is a small device that can track your luggage in case it gets lost or stolen.

GLS chief technology officer Alex Paterson announced the device at our MobileBeat 2011 conference today as part of our startup competition. Bagtrakka uses GSM (cellular) and GPS technology to triangulate your bag’s location, which is accessible on smartphones, the Web or via text messages. The device itself resembles a typical luggage tag, except it sports a braided steel cable so that it can’t be easily removed by thieves.

Paterson said 42 million bags are mishandled annually and 1.26 million are never returned to their owners, according to a 2007 SITA report.

Bagtrakka is powered by the company’s Global Locating Operating System (GLOS), which allows third-party developers to tap into the power of the device. It also means that Bagtrakka can easily be branded and deployed by airlines. The company is aiming to release Bagtrakka to consumers in a few months, with pricing potentially around $100.

The device can roam on GSM networks globally, thanks to a partnership with the Swiss company Sunrise Business Communications, which provides the SIM card and roaming agreement. Bagtrakka also has several sensors on board, including an accelerometer and light sensor.

Using those sensors and a patented process, the device can turn itself off when it enters a plane’s cargo hold, saving precious battery life. That also allows it to turn off wireless communications so that it can comply with airline regulations. Typically, Bagtrakka can stay powered for 4 to 5 days, Paterson said.

GLS has been working on the technology since 2009. At the moment, the company is self-funded and is seeking investors in the US.

Photo via Jonl1973 on Flickr

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