5 Back-To-School Gadgets That Fit In Your Backpack

These compact, student-friendly startup gadgets are a great way to kickstart the back-to-school season

After intensive and extended quarantines and isolation periods, students in several countries in the Asia Pacific region will be back in classrooms after countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and New Zealand ease up on school closures.

Going back to school is an exciting time for students across the world, and even more so in the COVID-19 era, when time away from school had little to offer children in the way of playing with their friends.

While going back to school is evoking mixed feeling this time around, back-to-school shopping is still one of the regular highlights of the year, and it can become even more fun when your shopping cart includes inventive gizmos to help your child at school.

Here are five products launched by startups that promise to add a pop to the transition from virtual classes to actual ones.

  1. Rocketbook Notebooks

Rocketbook’s range of smart notebooks are fairly popular among students. They are also easy on the pocket, starting from $12 for a basic product and ranging up to $35.

Made from synthetic paper, you write on them using Rocketbook’s Pilot FriXion pens and transfer your notes to a cloud server by scanning them through the Rocketbook app. Once your notes are transferred, all you have to do is erase the page to reuse it.

Erasing the notebook is particularly interesting – you can wipe your notes off using a damp cloth for most Rocketbook notebooks, but the Rocketbook Wave is a microwave-to-reuse notebook. That means to erase your Rocketbook Wave notebook, you just have to stick it into your microwave.

  1. PrinCube

3D printers are taking center stage in the design sector, but they were never very practical for schoolwork – at least, not until PrinCube, a tiny printer that can practically fit in the palm of a hand.

PrinCube can be used to liven up assignments and projects. It lets you print on all kinds of materials, from paper and cardboard, to plastic and metal. Created by TheGodThings, the device supports printing in color for both text and images.

The printing process is pretty simple. The portable printer connects with your mobile or laptop via WiFi, and prints a design that the user uploads to the PrinCube app. To print, all you have to do is place the printer on the material you want printed, and move your hand across it horizontally.

  1. Artibo

For kids who desire their Big Hero 6 moment, this is it. Artibo is a portable artificial intelligence (AI) robot designed to be a home assistant, but whose features are very useful to students as well.

In addition to a chatbot function that can work in multiple languages, Artibo can schedule daily tasks such as a wake up call, read out stories, and translate foreign languages.

The product also functions as an AI-powered educational tool: children can learn to code by actually programming Artibo through a support platform provided by Artibo’s creator, Cubroid.

  1. Rollova

This product may make you want to take a pass on boring old geometry rulers. This handy tool is all you need to make measurements, and it fits right into your backpack, or even your back pocket.

Rollova measures a variety of shapes and surfaces by simply rolling over them (as the name suggests), and displays the measurement on an OLED screen. It can save up to 99 measurements.

The instrument lets you switch between a centimeter unit of measure and inch-decimal and inch-fraction modes. Rollova also supports accuracy adjustments to compensate for user-related accuracy issues.

Hozo Design, the company behind the device, recently released an upgraded $89 version of the ruler Rollova 2.0, and the good news is that it ships worldwide.

  1. Nuraphone

Noise-cancelling headphones are a smart purchase for older students headed back to school. They can be quite convenient to have around for a study session at the library, or a groggy early morning school bus ride.

While Nura’s nuraphone is a high-end product, what is unique about it is that it works according to your hearing profile. This means that the headphone identifies hearing sensitivity by evaluating how musical notes are received by your ear. It then shapes the music you are listening to so as to suit your hearing profile.

The $399 headphone also comes with a social mode in case you want to tune back into the real world.

The current hot topic in education is how it can be digitized. The vast edtech market is dominated by elearning apps and other mobile-supported applications, consigning hardware to a niche for tech aficionados.

But interest in them is only growing – all of the five products listed above have been successfully crowdfunded on platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This is a strong indicator that even for a mobile-first generation, tech-enabled hardware isn’t ‘old-school’ just yet.

Header image by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

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