The consumer product world is experiencing a broad emergence of Internet-connected tech products with embedded sensors and microchips that allow them to perform tasks never before imagined. They are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and they will eventually redefine what we consider normal. And like many tech items that evolve from pricey retail versions to low-cost promotional versions, the day when IoT products arrive in the promotional industry is likely to come soon. Imagine a T-shirt that monitors your heart rate and then automatically adjusts the program of your treadmill, a pill box that emails you if your elderly mother forgets to take her medicine or GPS–enabled stickers that can track anything with a Find-my-iPhonetype app. These products and hundreds more are all possible in what our industry could call the Internet of PromotionalThings (IoPT). In time, there are bound be IoPT features added to a wide range of industry categories – from pens to drinkware to bags to apparel – as developers find meaningful ways to reimagine the customer experience and broaden marketing opportunities.

But the benefits of IoT and IoPT may come at a price. These connected consumer products are raising serious concerns for regulators around the globe as issues of cybersecurity and privacy abound.3 Consumers have already been subjected to hacking incidents with IoT control devices in automobiles, heart regulators, baby monitors, cameras, oil pipelines and credit card scanners, to name a few. Promotional professionals should take the time to educate themselves about IoT now, before the products become plentiful in the industry, so that when they begin to appear you will be better able to make informed decisions and protect your clients’ brands.