Industry Insight

All About High-Tech Keychains

The world is obsessed with all kinds of gizmos and gadgets, which explains why something as simple as a keychain has gotten a digital facelift over the years. Nowadays, keychains are capable of extraordinary feats, not limited to charging our phones, connecting to Bluetooth, and even changing the TV channel.

What are some examples of tech keychains? Where did they come from and what’s in store for the future? Let’s dive into everything you need to know about keychains in the digital age!

A Brief History of Keychains

Keychains have been part of history since ancient civilizations carried lucky stones and rabbit feet on twine. Of course, things have significantly changed since those long ago times.

Ancient Keychain https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/22.1.301/

The keychain, as we recognize it today, made its debut as a souvenir for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Only a year later, famous singer Frederick J. Loudin added an updated fastener, and it was official – keychains were here to stay!

Ancient Keychain https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/22.1.301/
Trade Show Keychain https://www.etsy.com/listing/632320865/

Although it was already making a name for itself, the keychain really catapulted to stardom in the 1950s. Car manufacturers were including one with every purchase and materials like metal and plastic were in abundance. This meant keychains could be created in unique shapes and designs that had never been available before. From that point on, these little trinkets became mainstays at souvenir shops, company trade shows, and in personal collections around the world.

Even as technology advances, the keychain has never lost its appeal. It’s no wonder why digital options have become the natural next step in this incredible product’s evolution!

The First Digital Keychain: The History of Tamagotchi®

Tamagotchi® https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi

Before we talk about today’s tech keychains, we have to pay respect to one of the world’s first– the Tamagotchi®. If you were a kid in the 90s, it’s extremely likely you had one of these virtual pets. Maybe you took care of it like you would your own dog or maybe yours died a week after buying it. Either way, these little devices were all the rage in the same decade that the internet was taking off at the speed of light.

In 1996, toy company Bandai released the world’s first Tamagotchi® in Japan. The idea came from 30-year-old Aki Maita, an employee who initially did clerical work for the company. Within the next year, her virtual pets had moved overseas into Europe and the United States where the demand was astronomical, so much so that people were camping outside of stores overnight to get their hands on one. Barbara Kantrowitz, a journalist for Newsweek at the time, affectionately referred to the Tamagotchi® as: “A New Pet Rock for the Digital Generation.”

Tamagotchi® https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi® https://grapee.jp/en/106567

Tamagotchi® catapulted to stardom during its first year of release in the United States. McDonald’s stores all over the country were offering them as Happy Meal toys, and Bandai got into the licensing game with popular Disney and Pokémon characters. All this extra marketing contributed greatly to the toy’s success, leading to over 80 million sold by the end of the decade! The Tamagotchi® also went on to inspire other virtual pets including the Dinkie Dino, GigaPet, and Nano Baby.

Almost everything these days can be done on our phones, but that hasn’t stopped Tamagotchi® from staging an epic comeback. In 2018, a new batch of virtual pets were released in the United States to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary. This version came in six colors and featured the same low-quality graphics that made the toy a hit in the 90s. Not to mention, there were also versions designed specifically for Apple Watches and smartphones. It just goes to show you can’t stop a good digital keychain like the Tamagotchi®!

Tamagotchi® https://grapee.jp/en/106567

Want to feel nostalgic? Check out this Tamagotchi® commercial from 1997!

Quote Icon

The virtual creature in a key fob was the perfect starter pet, because if your Tamagotchi died, all you needed to do was reset it.

– Gael Fashingbauer Cooper & Brian Bellmont, authors of The Totally Sweet ‘90s

Did you know?

In psychology, the “Tamagotchi Effect” describes when a human becomes emotionally attached to a machine.

A New Era of Keychains

In this day and age, the digital keychain has gone well beyond the capabilities of the original Tamagotchi®. Technology has made it so these small trinkets can do just about anything, whether it’s charge our phones, take a picture, or save important documents.

A New Era of Keychains The Vancouver Sun, 2009

In 2009, The Vancouver Sun ran an article about the different digital keychains and what they’re able to accomplish. This piece was published right on the cusp of a huge digital boom, when flashlights and iPod chargers were only part of what keychains could do.

A New Era of Keychains The Vancouver Sun, 2009

Today, keychains are more advanced than ever before! Take a look at some incredible tech-savvy options that are currently on the market.

At the end of the day, technology is designed to make our lives a little bit easier. Cool keychains like the ones pictured here make that happen, all from the convenience of your keyring.

Advertising with Digital Keychains

Digital keychains are great for more than just storing photos and finding the remote. Many people also turn to them when it comes to advertising their event or business. Why? They’re extremely affordable, stylish, and useful to have on hand.

Advertising with Digital Keychains

Take for example a high school in Des Moines, Iowa that used flashlight keychains to promote their automotive technology program. These keychains were the perfect choice as the program targets grades 10 through 12, an age group obsessed with technology. Not to mention, the flashlight is useful when it comes to doing oil changes, fixing brakes, and handling all other repairs.

Advertising with Digital Keychains

Techy keychains are sure to win over the crowd at any event. Just add your name and contact information and you can advertise with any of these awesome giveaways!

Hover Car

What’s in Store for the Future?

Hover Car

Maybe in a few years we’ll be using a digital keychain to power our flying cars! In the meantime, it’s exciting to see what technology will accomplish next. We’re in an era where everything’s compact, portable, and easy to fit in our pockets. It only makes sense to fuse technology with an item as accessible as a keychain.

Stats About Promos

The average adult in the U.S. spends roughly 8.5 hours per day engaged with technology.

Wearable gadgets like digital keychains are expected to have a value of $25 billion by 2019.

According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of Americans believe technology has made life better.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re using your keychain to take care of a virtual pet, check the weather forecast, or promote your business, technology has made these little trinkets more useful than ever before. It’s well worth adding as many as you can to your keyring!

References

Edwards, B. (2018, April 10). The Golden Age of Virtual Pets. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.pcmag.com/feature/360312/the-golden-age-of-virtual-pets

Bereznak, A. (2017, March 27). The Underground World of Tamagotchi Collectors. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.theringer.com/2017/3/27/16038420/tamagotchi-collectors-bandai-digital-pets-9b946143c747

Pollack, A. (1997, May 3). The Tamagotchi: Toy Life-Form Invades the U.S. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/week/050397gadget.html

Saadan, A. (2017, October 11). 5 Facts You Never Knew About Everyone’s Favorite Virtual Pet, Tamagotchi. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from http://www.asiaone.com/world/5-facts-you-never-knew-about-everyones-favourite-virtual-pet-tamagotchi

Vogt, A. (2014, March 3). Are Tamagotchis Coming Back? The Classic ‘90s Toy Gets a Nostalgic Update. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.bustle.com/articles/16857-are-tamagotchis-coming-back-the-classic-90s-toy-gets-a-nostalgic-update

Kantrowitz, B. (1997, June 8). A New Pet Rock for the Digital Generation. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.newsweek.com/new-pet-rock-digital-generation-173530

Entis, L. (2015, April 28). Tamagotchi, the Digital Toy from the 90s, Arrives on Apple Watch. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245586

Nembhard, C. (2017, November 27). The Tamagotchi is Coming to Your Smartphone Next Year. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/my-tamagotchi-phone-app/

Stelter, B. (2009, March 26). 8 Hours A Day Spent on Screens, Study Finds. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/business/media/27adco.html

Claveria, K. (2018). 4 Examples of How Technology is Changing Consumer Behavior. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://www.visioncritical.com/4-examples-how-technology-changing-consumer-behavior-1/

Strauss, M. (2017, October 12). Four-in-Ten Americans Credit Technology with Improving Life Most in the Past 50 Years. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/12/four-in-ten-americans-credit-technology-with-improving-life-most-in-the-past-50-years/

Steele, J. (2017, January 23). These Are the 15 Coolest Keychains in History. Retrieved December 28, 2018, from https://blog.key.me/15-coolest-house-car-keychains/

Demsey, J. (2016, November 23). The Tamagotchi at 20: How the ‘Original Virtual Reality Pet’ Conquered the World. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://www.newstalk.com/The-Tamagotchi-at-20:-How-the-Original-Virtual-Reality-Pet-conquered-the-world

Purewal, S. (2012, February 11). 15 Cool, Incredibly Tiny Tech Gadgets for Your Keychain. Retrieved December 31, 2018, from https://www.infoworld.com/article/2606204/consumer-electronics/consumer-electronics-15-cool-incredibly-tiny-tech-gadgets-for-your-keychain.html#slide16

Brill, M. ©2010. America in the 1990s. Twenty-First Century Books: Minneapolis, MN.

Cooper, G., Bellmont, B. (2013). The Totally Sweet ‘90s: From Clear Cola to Furby and Grunge to “Whatever,” the Toys, Tastes, and Trends that Defined a Decade. Penguin Group: New York, NY

Epstein, D. (1999). The 90s Pop Culture. Carlton Books: London.