It’s about to get very crowded on the wearables technology train, a locomotive that is surely picking up steam. In two weeks – April 24 to be exact – Apple will release its long-awaited Apple Watch, and with it a new revolution in wearables technology will emerge.
“Apple is on to something with the device,” wrote The New York Times this week in its product review of the Apple Watch. “The Watch is just useful enough to prove that the tech industry’s fixation on computers that people can wear may soon bear fruit. By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”
It’s quite the claim, really. But it’s one that the tech and apparel industries are counting on as a way to improve and expand the state of the wearables market overall. The Apple Watch will certainly be the most buzzworthy item to come out of the wearables tech movement, but it will be far from alone. Companies are currently touting fitness bands, T-shirts that monitor heart rates and other biometrics, hats and helmets that sense change in brain waves, and other wearable items that automatically feed information to computers.
This will change how people view their clothing and apparel accessories. They’ll have more purpose than they ever did before, and consumers will become even more loyal to certain brands. But will it translate to the promotional products market? Some say yes, others say “Not so fast.” “I think these items will become mainstream much quicker than many expect, as Millennials are so quick to embrace technology,” said Mark Ziskind, COO of Top 40 distributor CSE (asi/155807). “Wearable technology is already a viable option as a promotional product. We have done quite a few orders for items such as the FitBit and GoPro. We see the industry following this consumer trend.”
Other industry pros believe that price and other factors will cause wearables technology to be delayed in its mass acceptance as promotional items. “I believe it will catch on eventually, but I don’t see this having too much immediate impact in our industry because of the price point and the intricacy of the technology – for example, it’s going to be difficult for China to reproduce very soon,” said Catherine Faulk, marketing manager for BIC Graphic’s (asi/40480) technology category.
Our feeling? It’s coming faster than you think. Once a technology catches on and the early-adopters give it positive reviews, the bandwagon tends to get crowded really quickly. This will happen, for sure, with wearables technology, and this industry better be ready when it does. It will be a massive opportunity to capitalize on – one that suppliers and distributors should be sure not to miss.