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

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
Trade Show Keychain

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®


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® 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®!


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

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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!


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