Editor's Picks: What’s Trending In Tech


Oh, technology—how we love thee. Life without phones and other devices is unimaginable. If you’ve ever left home without your phone or lost your phone, you know the feeling. Disoriented. Helpless. Disconnected. Personal tech products are how people in the 21st century stay connected, informed and entertained—and how they do business on the go.

“Technology is such a big part of everyone’s daily life,” says Lindsey Farm, marketing coordinator for New Ulm, Minnesota-based supplier Beacon Promotions. “This makes tech promotional products useful and universally appealing with the ability to provide a high rate of impressions.”

A Fun Favorite

Technology’s usefulness may be part of the reason this product category is so popular. Technology product sales in 2018 reached $1.32 billion, comprising 5.5 percent of total industry sales by distributors, according to PPAI research.

“Tech is popular because it’s just plain fun,” says Carrie Lewis, marketing and communications manager for Clearwater, Florida-based supplier BIC Graphic NA. “Tech products are inherently popular because they are used while people are having fun—listening to music, connecting online, playing games, etc. A fun, branded tech product is one that end users are likely to keep, and they will have positive associations with the brand that provided the item.”

Likewise, brands see value in using tech promo products to spread their message because the products are in high demand by end users due to their everyday usefulness.

“Tech has a high-perceived value right off the bat,” says Brookelynn Miller, content marketing manager for Fountain Valley, California-based supplier Origaudio. “It’s tangible and often super useful, making it hard to just toss in the trash when the initial excitement fades.”

Dual Demand

Most technology devices require connectivity so much of their magic unfolds unseen—in cyberspace, on mobile networks and through AC/DC currents. But people can touch, hear, feel and see tech-based promotional products, making their appeal multi-sensory. There’s something powerful and memorable about holding an item in your hands. Thus, tech-related promotional products combine the best of both worlds. They are simultaneously high-tech and high-touch, leveraging technology’s digital connectivity with the physical presence of promotional products.

This dual appeal consistently puts tech-related promo products in the sweet spot for what’s new and what’s next. Among the trends are products with wireless charging capabilities.

“Wireless charging continues to be a big trend, as more and more devices are enabled with Qi-charging capabilities,” Lewis says. “We’re seeing multi-function, Qi-enabled devices like clock speakers that will also charge your mobile phone.”

Miller agrees, saying that she’s seeing brands step up their game, in general, with the types of products they are using for promotions. “I’ve noticed a rise in interest for environmentally-friendly items, security and privacy-related products, and retail-forward, vintage-inspired designs on things like travel accessories and backpacks,” Miller adds.

Safe And Secure

BIC Graphic’s Lewis agrees that tech products that protect consumers’ security, privacy and safety are rising in popularity. “As reports of hacking and data breaches continue to hit the news, we expect to see increased interest in products that support online safety,” she says.

Companies don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on such products, either. For example, a webcam cover is small and flat (making it great for direct mail), it has an affordable price point and it offers protection reinforcing that even a small tech promo product can send a powerful message to recipients: as a brand, we care about your privacy, safety and security.

As a product category, technology promos across the spectrum strive to solve a problem, fill a need and connect with recipients in new and meaningful ways.

“If a brand can use a tech item to solve a problem, such as providing a power bank to a customer whose phone is dead at a conference, they instantly become positively remembered by that person,” Miller says. “That’s what it’s all about—solving problems for customers, so they remember your brand fondly.”

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People carry phones wherever they go. But what if the phone doesn’t fit in your pocket? Or (gasp!) you don’t have pockets? With the Ninja Loop, your phone is always at your fingertips and protected from damaging falls. With a design that’s universally compatible and allows for intuitive one-handed operation, this phone loop is adjustable, so it’s comfortable for all hand sizes. And since it lies flat with very little bulk, this phone loop is ideal for a direct mail campaign or trade-show giveaway. It also features a full-color, dual-sided imprint and is compatible with wireless chargers.

EMT  /  PPAI 110810, S4   /   www.emteasy.com

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Want a tech promotional product that “sticks” with recipients? These Tech Decals offer a creative way to showcase your client’s logo on stickers that adhere to technology devices. Each sheet includes 15 decals—five standard decals for laptops, phones or tablets; seven keyboard decals and three charger decals. The decals have a removable adhesive, so they aren’t permanent and leave no stickiness when removed, even after extended periods of time.

Label Works  /  PPAI 111141, S3  /   www.labelworks.com

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Designed for the daily needs of modern creatives and technology types, the Incase City Market Tote features a dedicated, padded laptop sleeve and a roomy main compartment to store multiple tech accessories. The custom zipper pulls make accessing the items a breeze whether at work, during a commute or on days off. With its imprinted front pocket, this carry-everywhere tote will continuously gain impressions for your clients’ brand.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com

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Measuring less than four square inches, the Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker delivers unmatched sound for its pocket-sized stature. It comes with a durable silicone strap so wherever recipients take it, your clients’ brand goes along. The built-in technology works with Amazon Echo Dot and can be accessed via Siri or Google Assistant. It’s also waterproof—so even if it falls in the pool, the party won’t stop.

Beacon Promotions  /  PPAI 113702, S10  /  www.beaconpromotions.com

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When a pharmaceutical company decided to host a health and wellness challenge for employees, it determined that choosing the right incentive gifts would be key to the program’s success. Organizers chose multiple corporate gifts to recognize employees as they met certain milestones in the competition; among them was the Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker. It was selected as the incentive gift for employees who racked up the most miles cycling, running or walking. The fitness challenge was a resounding success, as measured by employee participation, and the company counted the high-quality corporate gifts it chose as a major factor.

Fast and flexible, the Flip Wireless Charging Pad & Stand is a wireless charger and phone stand with five different positions that are ideal for video calls, watching movies and using the phone as an alarm clock on a desk or nightstand. Its dual-coil functionality allows it to charge in both vertical and horizontal orientations. This fast-charging, Qi-certified charger also offers a unique “flip” design that pops up when needed and folds flat after use.

Toddy Gear, Inc.  /  PPAI 516677, S6  /  www.toddypromo.com

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Both high-tech and “high-toy,” the Aaytee Voice-Activated Robot is the perfect promo for the technology geek in everyone. He or she (we didn’t check) responds to voice commands and can move forward, backward, turn, spin, sing and dance. Equipped with a touch-sensing mode to control its movements, this robot has voice repeat and voice-recording modes, and can also play back four songs and dance along. And it never, ever forgets to display your client’s full-color digital imprint.

Origaudio  /  PPAI 421483, S7  /  www.origaudio.com

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What makes the Diplomat 10000mAh Hi-Density Polymer Power Bank notable is its high-density battery, which provides high-capacity power in a compact size. And with a 10000mAh capacity, this power bank can charge today’s smartphones nearly three times before needing its own recharge. Additionally, the Diplomat power bank has a UL-certified battery, ensuring UL’s safety requirements are met.

Ariel Premium Supply, Inc.  /  PPAI 161650, S10  /  www.arielpremium.com

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Easy to use and intuitively designed, the Harman Kardon Citation ONE Smart Speaker has a rich sound and a trim design, offering access to more than 300 music services available with wi-fi streaming and built-in Chromecast. It also has Bluetooth to wirelessly stream music from a phone or tablet and is compatible with Google Assistant, giving the user access to voice control for information, to play music and to control devices within a smart home.

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S7   /  www.hirschgift.com

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Perfect for travel promos, trade shows and corporate gifts, the Tower of Power Aluminum Rechargeable Power Bank 2200mAh features a compact size that fits a pocket or purse for on-the-go charging of phones, MP3 players and more. This handy tech device is made of durable aluminum alloy, including a 2200mAh lithium ion battery, and can be imprinted in three different locations for optimal brand exposure.

All In One  /  PPAI 111343, S6   /   www.allinoneline.com

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The Super-Slim Sliding Webcam Cover adheres easily to block uninvited onlookers and hackers on laptops; slide the cover open to use the webcam. It’s a budget-friendly, useful tech promo for any company that wants to emphasize they care about their customers’ security and privacy.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com

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Freshen the air anywhere with the iMist Stick. It uses power from any USB port to deliver the fragrance of essential oils for on-the-go aromatherapy. It’s portable, waterless and refreshing. The pocket-sized piece can be imprinted and comes in black, blue, yellow, pink and green.

Idol Memory  /  PPAI 508496, S2   /   www.idolmemory.com

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Portable chargers have become an essential tech accessory, ensuring that our devices stay powered when we need them most, and providing a huge opportunity for the promo industry.

But if you’re going to sell products such as portable chargers, you need to know what those tech terms mean. Check out our mini dictionary of terms below.

Amps
Amps refers to the current or energy rate that is being transferred to the device that is charging. Amps can refer to the output or input charging. Avoid chargers with only 1.0 amps, as this is the slowest charging speed. Standard amp charging rates are 2.0 and 2.1 amps. The next level is 3.0 amps, which is in the “quick charge” category.

Power Capacity
This term refers to how much charge is inside a portable charger’s battery. It is measured in mAh, which is short for milliamp hours. mAh is the measurement of a battery’s power capacity. The larger the mAh value, the more charge it’s capable of holding. Common sizes start at about 2000mAh and increase as the battery’s size increases.

Protective Circuitry
The Protective Circuitry (PTC) protects the equipment, charged device and user. PTC prevents internal and external short circuit, abnormal charge/over charge, forced discharge and more.

UL Certification
The gold standard for battery safety is certification from Underwriters Laboratories. UL is the most widely accepted certification that denotes a battery’s compliance with recognized safety requirements in North America.

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Wireless charging is the latest and greatest way to charge mobile devices. It’s easy to use, fast, safe and there’s no fiddling around with cables. But what is wireless charging? How does it work? And how do you explain it to your clients?

Supplier Toddy Gear knows a thing or two about wireless chargers and provides the following information to guide you through the maze.

What is wireless charging?
Wireless charging is a way of charging electronic devices without the use of a cable. In technical terms, it is called inductive charging. For wireless charging, two things are required:

1 - A smart device (phone, tablet, etc.) or other electronic device that has a built-in wireless charging receiver.

2 - A wireless charging transmitter that connects to a power source (either a wall outlet or via a USB plug). The transmitter comes in the form of a pad or a stand.

Once these two things are present, the physical process to charge a device is straightforward. Place the smartphone on the wireless charger and it will start charging instantly.

What are the advantages of using a wireless charger?
It comes down to convenience, staying charged, true universal compatibility and, of course, decoration and branding.

Convenience
Wireless chargers make charging a smartphone a breeze. Just set the phone on the charger and it starts charging immediately. There’s no need to worry about not having a charging cable and there are no connector compatibility issues. It’s true universal compatibility.

In most instances, there is no need to remove the phone from its case; most wireless charging pads and stands will work through a phone case that’s 3mm to 10mm thick. It all depends on the specification of the wireless charger. Make sure to check the range before purchasing; the larger the range, the thicker the case it will work through. Be aware that cases made of metal will cause issues with wireless charging. There is a reason why Apple dropped its aluminum shell for a solid glass back; wireless charging cannot conduct through aluminum (or any metal).

Staying Charged
One of the great things about wireless chargers is they allow a smartphone to get a power boost every time it is set down. Say there is a wireless charger in the bedroom, office and the car. Whenever you enter one of those spaces, you quickly and conveniently charge your device, by setting it down on a wireless charger. As a result, the phone’s power stays topped off and the chances of needing to worry about seeing that little red battery symbol at an inconvenient moment significantly decrease.

How does wireless charging work?
Wireless charging is based on inductive charging. With inductive charging, power is created by passing an electrical current between two coils. When this happens, an electromagnetic field is created. When the receiving magnetic field on the mobile device comes into contact, or even within range of the wireless transmitter, the electromagnetic field generates an electrical current. That current is converted into direct current (DC). Just like with wired charging, the DC charges your device’s battery.

Can a wireless charger overcharge the device?
It is perfectly safe to leave the smartphone on the wireless charger for prolonged periods. Wireless chargers use what is known as trickle charging: if the device battery gets below 100 percent while still on the wireless charger, a small amount of current will start to trickle, ensuring that the device is kept charged.

Single-coil and dual-coil chargers?
It only takes a single-coil to charge your phone, but some wireless chargers offer a dual-coil option. This does not increase the charging speed but gives you the ability to position the phone in landscape or portrait orientations and still get a charge. Having dual-coils is truly important when you are dealing with wireless charging stands because without the second coil the transmitting and receiving coils for the alternate orientation will not line up and be in range for the transmission to happen. Dual-coil devices solve this problem.

What is Qi?
The key to knowing whether you’re getting a quality wireless charger is understanding Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the established wireless charging standard. It’s owned by a group called The Wireless Power Consortium and it’s backed by pretty much every major mobile device manufacturer: Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Sony, Nokia, Motorola and more. Its aim is to deliver safe, easy-to-use wireless charging, as well as compatibility with all devices that bear the Qi logo.

5/7.5/10W Oh My?
Wireless chargers have various power outputs. The minimum is a 5W. Many wireless-enabled charging devices support 5W, 7.5W and 10W wireless charging. If a device is 7.5W/10W, it’s considered fast-charging. Wireless chargers that support 7.5W/10W are preferred to the 5W chargers as they charge devices much more quickly. 5W chargers are usually standard with smartphones even if they support fast charging.

Quality wireless chargers come standard with smartchips that regulate the amount of power that is delivered to the device. For instance, if the device is 5W and the charger is rated up to 10W, the wireless charger will recognize that the device only needs 5W of power and will deliver just what is required.

Popular devices that are Qi-enabled include:

7.5W-Enabled Devices

  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8

10W-Enabled Devices

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
  • Sony
  • LG
  • Other

What’s the difference between Qi-Certified and Qi-Standard?
Both Qi-Certified and Qi-Standard devices have been manufactured to meet or exceed Qi specifications, resulting in the highest-quality product. The difference between the two is that Qi-Certified wireless chargers have been tested by a third party, whereas Qi-Standard devices have been tested by the manufacturer.

Are wireless chargers safe?
Yes. It is safe to be in close proximity of wireless chargers and charging devices for extended periods. Chargers that are not in use emit a harmless signal that looks for a wireless charging receiver, like the one in your smartphone. The signal emitted does not extend past the maximum distance specified on the wireless charger (3mm to 10mm). Provided that the wireless charger meets safety regulations set by organizations like the FCC in the United States and CE in Europe, they emit less radiation than a phone connected to a mobile network.

Also, to ensure the wireless charger is safe to use anywhere, including hospitals, the wireless charging frequency needs to be strictly controlled at the manufacturing and QC stages. The 110-205khz frequency means that the wireless charges will not affect the normal operation of surrounding wireless devices. That means no interference with devices such as hearing aids or pacemakers, or with any devices that use infrared (IR) technology like thermometers, so they are safe to use in any health-care application.

Will the charger get hot?
All charging devices create heat as they charge, and the heat that comes off the charger represents a loss of energy. The most efficient chargers go through extensive testing to minimize the energy wasted through as heat. The best wireless chargers also have built-in safety protocols that will temporarily shut down to protect the charging device if excessive heat is detected.

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Brittany Glenn is a Dallas-area writer and former associate editor of PPB.

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