Future or Fantasy?

Suppliers Weigh In On 6 Wearable Tech Items

We looked at some of the most popular wearable technology on the market today and asked top suppliers: Could these products really work as promotional items?

On April 10, 2015, when Apple made its long-awaited watch available for pre-order, the tech manufacturer received almost a million orders in 24 hours. The excitement and anticipation over the new Apple Watch was just one of many indicators – certainly the most publicized – that wearable technology is here to stay.

From the Apple Watch to smart T-shirts to fitness-tracking earphones, functional wearable technology is changing the way consumers once did everyday tasks, enhancing their experiences and providing more detail and insight in the process.

Which then begs these questions: Can the ad specialty industry get in on the action? Could these items one day become end-buyers’ next marketing campaign items and incentive program gifts? We asked top promotional suppliers to give us their take on six wearable tech items and how they’d fit – or wouldn’t fit – into this market.

Apple WatchApple Watch

The new Apple Watch features timekeeping, fitness tracking, communication and mobile app synching functions. Consumers can choose from three separate collections: Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition.

SIZE: Screens measure 38mm or 42mm

FEATURES: Bands made of fluoroelastomer, leather or stainless steel; cases made of aluminum, stainless steel, 18-karat rose gold and 18-karat yellow gold; scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face; retina display

COST: $349 to $17,000

WEB: www.apple.com/watch

“I think the Apple Watch is a good product and concept. This would be a great add-on for an executive corporate gifting program – as long as the budget allows for it. However, beyond pricing, the challenge with it comes down to the platform restriction. Although many people use the iPhone, it’s not the only platform available. So in our industry, you’d have to ensure the receivers of this product regularly use the iOS operating system.”
– Elson Yeung, director of private label design & merchandising, alphabroder (asi/34063)

“I believe the Apple Watch could eventually inspire industry products, especially since fitness tracking is all the rage right now. I’m not sure that these exact Apple products could be sold into our industry because of the price point, but there is certainly room for similar wearable tech.”
– Ty Cannon, national business development manager, Cutter & Buck (asi/47965)

OMsignalOMsignal Biometric Smartwear

OMsignal Biometric Smartwear, a collection of compression-style performance tops, syncs with a mobile app for real-time monitoring of heart rate and breathing, calorie and step counting, and recording of activity levels.

SIZE: S to XL, in long-sleeve, short-sleeve and sleeveless styles

FEATURES: Made of rain-, splash- and sweat-resistant materials; includes a module that wirelessly streams data to a smartphone via the mobile app

COST: $249

WEB: www.omsignal.com

“When looking at OMsignal, there are many other outerwear options, such as highly technical jackets, available within this price point. Convincing distributors that their clients will need the extra features could make for a challenging sale.”
– Elson Yeung, director of private label design & merchandising, alphabroder (asi/34063)

“I believe anything can translate into the ad specialty industry, as long as it has meaningful function, which this one does. Tech products are not a novelty; they can create value and long-term brand recall. The price tag, though, is beyond reach for most budgets. It may work in smaller quantity purchases, but it’s definitely not for everyday giveaways.”
– George Shih, president, Idol Memory (asi/62222)

LifeBeam Smart HatLifeBeam Smart hat

The LifeBeam Smart hat measures heart rate, number of steps taken and calories burned, and sends the data wirelessly to a smartphone or fitness tracker.

FEATURES: Ball cap style available in black or white; compatible with iPhone 4 and later, all Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0 and later, and select fitness trackers; visor and bike helmet styles also available

COST: $99

WEB: www.life-beam.com

“As a population, we are incredibly stagnant. We spend hours driving each day and then sit at our computers all day long. These daily habits can lead to very serious health problems. I’m a former strength coach, so I’d certainly welcome a product that makes us more aware of our daily activity levels.”
– Ty Cannon, national business development manager, Cutter & Buck (asi/47965)

“It’s a clever product and might work for promotional product distributors. However, price may be a hurdle. I can definitely see adoption of this item by Millennials because they’re so geared for this type of activity and use smartphones constantly.”
– Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing, Edwards Garment (asi/51752)

The FitbitThe Fitbit chargeHR

The Fitbit chargeHR fitness tracker wristband monitors heartrate, tracks steps and distance, measures calories burned and provides Caller ID notifications.

FEATURES: Water-resistant; LED progress display; syncs wirelessly and automatically to iOS, Android and Windows smartphones with Bluetooth 4.0 technology

COST: $149.95

WEB: www.fitbit.com

“This could certainly translate into a product for the promotional industry. Most people would love a fitness tracker wristband. The only issue with the Fitbit most likely would be the price. It may be a challenge when trying to sell a few hundred for a special event, for example.”
– Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing, Edwards Garment (asi/51752)

“It has a nice design, useful app and reasonable functionality. It’s a lifestyle piece, in that it becomes a part of your daily routine, like a car charger or a smartphone wallet. So any branding imprinted on it is in constant exposure, and that makes it truly exciting as a promotional piece. However, it’s not truly waterproof, which is a drawback, and it doesn’t provide a huge amount of smartwatch functionality.”
– Daniel Baker, marketing manager, Debco (asi/48885)

FreewavzFreeWavz Smart Fitness Earphones

The FreeWavz Smart Fitness Earphones provide wireless heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking.

FEATURES: Communicates with smartphone app via Bluetooth; monitors heart rate and tracks fitness levels with audio alerts and real-time feedback; connects to smartphones and MP3 players to play music; compatible with iOS and Android

COST: $249

WEB: www.freewavz.com

“The creativity and functionality are incredible. They offer real-time information for people who pay attention to their health. They’re wearable, easy to carry and comfortable to wear. However, it provides real-time information and historical data on the smartphone app, which could be a challenge for non-tech savvy users. Actually, this is a common problem for most tech products.”
– George Shih, president, Idol Memory (asi/62222)

“Having worked as an operating room technician in a previous life, I’m familiar with the pulse oximeter technology involved with these earphones. I like the concept, but I fear the technology won’t work without very expensive components. Also, after having purchased wireless earphones just like these – minus the pulse oximeter, obviously – for my wife, I can tell you they tend not to be comfortable to wear while working out.”
– Daniel Baker, marketing manager, Debco (asi/48885)

VisijaxVisijax Commuter Jacket

The Visijax Commuter Jacket provides added visibility for work and recreation in low light.

SIZE: XS to XXL in black or fluorescent yellow

FEATURES: 23 white and red LED lights, for safety in low light; motion-activated, self-cancelling turn indicators; rainproof and breathable; teflon coating

COST: Approximately $170

WEB: www.visijax.com

“The Visijax Commuter Jacket is very innovative. It’s perfect for cyclists, but it could also fit right in as a uniform piece for hotel valets, parking service associates or restaurant valets. Any work environment where visibility is enhanced would certainly benefit.”
– Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing, Edwards Garment (asi/51752)

“The technology here is motion-sensing lighting. Cycling continues to be a hot trend, and growing more so every day. Part of its allure is the gadgetry involved. Cyclists are gear heads and love spending money on their hobby. The price point on this item is already within an acceptable range for select wearables, so I can see it being successful. The question will be, how well does the system work?”
– Daniel Baker, marketing manager, Debco (asi/48885)