What’s Trending in Promotional Merchandise Technology for 2019!

Following the annual Technology fairs in Hong Kong, we are ready to launch our latest range of Tech Lifestyle gadgets for 2019, but what’s trending?

The shows not surprisingly did not throw up any new concepts to take over from the current focus on items such as power banks and speakers but did highlight some very popular trends in technology for the promotional merchandise market.

Promotional TechProbably the single most popular technology concept is what has been christened ‘true wireless stereo or TWS‘ or more simply the ability to pair two Bluetooth audio devices to each other to create wireless stereo for listening to music. Most popular items at the show with this feature were for sure micro Bluetooth earbuds and of course small and not so small travel speakers. Such products simply turn on, one device takes the lead and pairs to the other and then your phone/tablet/laptop and you can enjoy great stereo sound.

Wireless charging continues to be current and one to watch for the future. However, quality, usability and safety are concerns at the low end, and consumer demand, compatibility and a slower than expected uptake is still a question. One to watch closely for 2019...

‘Smart’ home products and connected devices such as plugs, security locks, Wi-fi driven cameras at your front door and light bulbs continue to grow and will become part of our ‘home make up’ sooner than you think!

PowerbanksPower banks and charging cables still dominate the shows with a myriad of new styles, sizes and prices on display. The market does seem a little flooded in this area with some slowdown in interest, as often it’s been ‘done and seen before.’ However cool and unique models still have the power to wow! Excuse the pun...

USB CUSB C hubs and connectivity solutions were probably one of the surprise products areas, as hubs had slowed down in terms of interest a few years ago. However the rapid introduction now of USB type C connectivity into many new laptops is driving a new interest in good quality hubs that can be fed from a USB C port and then power/sync data with 3-4 older style USB A accessories (such as flash drives/mice etc) HDMI and or other ports built into a handy travel gadget often with a great branding area.

Fast charge PD adapters and in-car chargers will become a big part of our ‘re-charging’ world as we all strive to charge our phones quicker and more often. The Fast charge delivered by PD enabled devices will become popular in the car as they themselves will turn into ‘info/entertainment centres’ as driverless cars revolutionise our world in years to come. Alexa and smart Home entertainment systems are growing in popularity with Amazon selling the Alexa solution to many professional factories in China now. However, the fierce battle on hardware costs, and with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon battling it out on the retail market this looks a tricky area for the promotion market.

Bluetooth 5 is now live and expanding rapidly into many new products and service areas/location services. This new standard is bringing far greater wireless transmission distances between gadget and host device. This coupled with the ability to pair up to 10 or more devices to one host device, opens the door to many new and improved speakers, trackers, heart rate monitors, headphones, earbuds and much more... Smart WatchFitness trackers, smart watches and colour display ‘activity bands’ are making a big come back! After a rapid rise to consumer focus and then slight slowdown over the last 12months, the tracker and Smartwatch are now very popular with most major consumer brands having them made for them. Many of these brands have added a colour screen bringing a new dimension to the product. Many factories are developing this style and with competitive prices, smart and colourful two-tone bands and professional APPS - software’s and even GPS bundled in this is an area to watch and stay close too.

So lots of cool Tech gadgets to stay focused on for 2019. This product area remains one of the fastest growing in promotional marketing, and increasingly one that needs close attention and advice from your expert promotional merchandise supplier.

For more information contact the GeigerBTC team, or to view our latest Winter Tech lifestyle brochure, click here

2017 Cyber Security and Marketing: Episode 2 - Phishing, Whaling and Mobile Threats

2017 Cyber Security and Marketing: Episode 2 - Phishing, Whaling and Mobile Threats

To read  'Episode 1 - Understanding Ransomware' click here

Further to the threat of 'Ransomware,' another massive area for concern when it comes to company cyber security is phishing and whaling. Phishing is a term you may have heard about before, it is simply described as when hackers send out fraudulent e-mails from accounts disguised as e-mail adresses the user would generally trust, e.g. a customer, colleague, or authoritative account like the government etc. 

Phishing and Whaling

The malicious e-mail’s goal is to incite the user into clicking a link within the e-mail. If the recipient clicks the link, it will activate the malware stealing all accessible data from that user, and in some cases can spam your e-mail contacts also.

It goes without saying that the hackers are definitely to blame when it comes to phishing, they are the the creators and distributers of malicious e-mails, but we the users aren’t completely blameless, part of the reason why phishing is on the rise is down to ‘overconfident users.’ In a study by Dr. Zinaida Benenson, 78% of participants filled out a questionnaire in her study stating they were aware that clicking on links from unknown sources could be detrimental. This number, on the surface, was reflected in the first study where 20% of people reported clicking a link from an unknown search, when in reality actually 45% of people clicked a potentially malicious link. This is down to overconfidence on what people perceive to be a malicious link, and what they in reality can be delivered as.

Whaling takes phishing one step further, generally phishing targets the general public attempting to gain their personal details, whereas whaling targets high level individuals in organisations, such as bankers, government officials and other powerful executives. From these high level users it attempts to steal a wider range of sensitive data, like personal and bank details for all the employees, or other sensitive company information.

Mobile SecurityEveryone knows computers are vulnerable, we see it all the time in the news and media, but what most people don’t realise is that their smartphones and smart devices are vulnerable to malicious hacking also. In fact any device with a microphone or a camera, you need to be wary that these devices can be hacked, baby monitors, games consoles etc. Hackers find vulnerability in the system, whether it’s through a non-secure wireless transmission or a root through the internet, and once in can not only access your private files, but live access to devices like cameras, speakers and microphones.

This is not a new phenomenon, but through the introduction of devices that talk to each other, hackers can use that communication channel to find their way into your network. This is definitely an evident threat for home users, but this threat can spread the moment an infected own device logs onto a corporate network. When an infected device lawfully accesses the corporate network, as innocent as this connection is, it can be extremely detrimental to a company, as not only will it find its way onto the network, but will spread to every computer on the network.

Mid-Year Tech Trends Review part 2

Mid-Year Tech Review Part 2   

AR Painting

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is another fantastic example of content being the key indicator on how popular it can become. With last year’s introduction of a mainstream mobile game that introduced VR to the general public, the general feeling from tech experts was that augmented reality will play a large role in this year’s technology trend. Although there have been some great developments within the AR industry this year, it still hasn’t completely reached the point where AR is a part of our daily lives, which I do thoroughly believe one day it will! In terms of the promotional market there are some great indicators that AR could work well in our industry, with some promotional product suppliers beginning to integrate AR products into their offering, branding the physical product and the software the drives it.

Wireless Headphones

Wireless EarphonesOut of the 5 trends I predicted would be popular this year, I definitely think that wireless headphones have become the most established in the consumer market. With another large smartphone manufacturer dropping the headphone jack, more and more emphasis is being placed on Bluetooth wireless headphones. All of the top headphone producers have released wireless headphones at all different price points, making them not only increasingly popular, but financially accessible too. Wireless headphones aren’t only popular and affordable in the consumer market; they are incredibly popular in the promotional market also. One of the predications I made in my blog at the beginning of the year was the introduction of ‘airpod’ style products into the promotional market. It didn’t take long for before my prediction to be true, within days of releasing that blog, we had a supplier visit, who showed us they had three products, in that styling due to hit the promotional market later on in the year.

Smarter Technology

SpeakerIn the time since writing my original blog, I have personally purchased several smart home assistants for my own use at home and as presents, simply because they provide that wow factor you want when giving a great gift. Whilst keeping up to date with all the latest technology I noticed a great trend beginning in the world of smart assistants, I have notice more and more products are being released with the incorporation of the smart assistant technology. One area of technology we are seeing this working incredibly well is with Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers are incredibly popular in the promotional product world, we sell Bluetooth speakers at all different price levels, and the thought of selling a branded Bluetooth speaker with the added unique selling point that it contains digital personal assistant software is amazing.  A trend we may not see this year, but is definitely one we could see in the years to come is personalised assistants, with voices, start up sounds and software integration all targeted to specific companies takes the personalised branding experience to the next level. 

Are Retro Gadgets Making a Comeback in 2017?

Are Retro Gadgets Making a Comeback in 2017?

Earlier this week across the UK the retro styled Nokia 3310 went on sale in mobile phone shops across the country with demand for the device being called astonishing. The original 3310 was released 17 years ago, selling over 100 million devices becoming a cult classic for the ages. The biggest gripe with smartphones today is battery life, something that the 3310 had no issues with previously holding up to two weeks battery life, this is something that has been reintroduced into the new style 3310 which gives you 22 hours of talk time. The new phone isn’t for everyone, and is lacking many smartphone functionalities, but for those only after a phone to make calls and send text messages, this would be the phone for you.

The world has changed a lot in the last 17 years, and with it so have mobile devices, so what is with the new influx of interest in retro gadgets, why the sudden affinity for nostalgic products? To put it simply retro is cool again, anything 70s, 80s, and 90s is making its resurgence, you only have to look at the cinema industry to see that old popular household names are making a comeback. This nostalgic comeback isn’t a simple coincidence, it is the product of clever decisive marketing, companies know that people whose childhood were in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s are likely to now be employed with some being in top paying jobs. These companies appeal to their demographic through nostalgia from their childhood, as a strategy to sell them their product, with this people possibly being in high paid jobs, they are able to charge slightly more, and still make healthy sales.

As with everything, when there is a trend on the consumer market, it generally makes its way across to the promotional market too. We are seeing more and more customers asking for retro styled items, from confectionary to fashion and yes technology also. A great example you can see here is a retro Bluetooth speaker, in the style of a nostalgic FM radio this speaker gives you’re your flashback nostalgia with Bluetooth connectivity. This is a concept we have already started seeing and will see more of, modern day technology in retro styling.  

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 4: Smarter Technology

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 4: Smarter Technology

Smarter TechnologyIf you haven’t heard about the internet of things, it simply is a new age network being created, not between people, but between objects, how they output and share information to devices, and even to the larger World Wide Web. Smarter technology is definitely a concept that is more understandable after an example as the possibilities of future applications are pretty much endless. The example I will be giving is that from the point of view of an attendee, experiencing smarter technology being integrated into attended conference.

You sign up to attend a technology related conference, 2 weeks prior to the event you receive an automated e-mail asking what time you’ll be arriving, dietary requirements and car licence plate details. 3 days before the event you will receive in the post to your preferred address your conference event name badge and lanyard, with built in RFID access to building, restricted to the hours of the conference.

On day of conference your phone has already detected from the information sent to your phone that you have to leave at 7:30am as the conference is an hour away and there is half an hour of traffic, once you attend, you gain automatic entry to the carpark, as the security system auto reads your licence plate on authorised list, and gain easy access into building by scanning the, RFID in-built, name tag on reader to open door. As you walk through the doors you receive location based notification to your phone asking if you would like to download the conference app, which has details of the itinerary and app also is required for augmented reality aspect of conference.

Smart Conference RoomThe time for the conference has begun and automatically the lighting in the conference room dims and the AV system is ready for the first speaker. During the conference a person asks a question requiring a specific numerical answer, for example “what percentage of smart phone sales were android OS last year” rather than the speaker finding the details, the conference rooms auto assistant has already found the answer and delivers this through text to speech software.

After the conference is over, the next day you will receive an automated e-mail from the conference intelligence hub containing the filmed videos that were automatically created and uploaded of the seminars, these videos will also be sent to those who couldn’t attend for any reason.

Hopefully by combining the knowledge of the ‘Internet of Things’ explained in the last white paper, and with this example, you have a abundant knowledge of how smarter technology can work in the conference environment, and even see and theorise other applications of how it could work in the future. The introduction of Amazon Echo into the consumer market really has kick-started the demand for an always connected smart assistant, in the home and in the workplace. If these assistants can be branded and customised on a software and external level, they would make a fantastic addition to any promotional campaign and conference.

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