We’ve given you the back-to-school basics — laptops, tablets, smartphones — and great ways to go high tech, even on a low budget. But what about those wacky, OMG! gadgets that are sure to make your kids way too cool for school this year? Check out some of the futuristic faves we’ve unicycled across this year:
AN EPIC HOLOGRAM KEYBOARD
Most kids today probably wouldn’t be impressed to see Princess Leia appear out of thin air thanks to R2-D2’s hologram player, but that crazy special effect from the 1970s has finally made its way to their desks thanks to the Epic Hologram Keyboard, a futuristic typing tool from Hammacher Schlemmer. It connects via Bluetooth to any smartphone or tablet to provide your student with a full-size keyboard anywhere they might need it. It’s a bit pricey at $119.95, and isn’t quite as accurate as the kind with physical buttons, but the wow factor is more than worth it.
BRING VIRTUAL GAMES INTO THE REAL WORLD
If your younger kids are spending too much time engrossed in the virtual world of their iPad, Osmo can bring them back to reality without the tears they always seem to produce when you tap that “off” switch. With fun games, puzzles and activities that add real-world objects into the mix, the Osmo system turns your countertop or a pad of paper into a tablet-compatible plaything. You can preorder your own Osmo set for just $49, prior to its launch this October.
A GADGET EVEN KIDS CAN’T LOSE
You probably don’t even own a smartwatch yet, but with companies like Samsung and Google working on wrist-worn gadgets, there’s a good chance you will soon. VTech’s Kidizoom smartwatch will have your younger kids ready for the watch revolution with their very own timepiece that can shoot photos and record video, and even play games. It’s really the perfect tech toy for children since it’s strapped right to them, meaning no more “Mom, I lost it!” emergencies. And at $59.99, it’s a small investment that could pay off big “time.” (Get it?)
THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD
Turning a piece of toast into an edible selfie might be the only way to ensure your college-age kids are actually eating breakfast, so consider a $75 custom toaster from the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corp. an investment in their well-being. Each toaster is a one-of-a-kind gadget made specifically to match the photo you submit, making it a ridiculously perfect gift idea. And parents, if you’re traumatized about your kids going away to college, here’s a way to make sure they wake up to an impression of you every single day. Cool and creepy.
SOUND THAT FITS YOU AND ONLY YOU
The biggest problem with earbuds is that they never seem to fit quite right. And whether they’re running between classrooms or getting some much-needed exercise after school, kids are prone to losing them. Decibullz earphones might have a funny name, but they also have a cool trick: With a little bit of heat, the funky in-ear adapters will conform to the exact shape of the user’s ear, making them perfectly comfortable and virtually impossible to lose. Oh, and they come with a built-in excuse whenever a pesky friend tries to borrow them — after all, they’ll only really fit the owner! Pick up a pair for $59.
For college kids, dorm-room space is at a premium and spare cash is at a minimum, so give them something that will provide hours of entertainment, be easy to store and won’t make their bank accounts bleed. The Slingbox does just that, and since it syncs with smartphones and tablets to stream TV shows and movies, there’s no big, bulky box to wedge between the TV and the microwave it’s sitting on top of. In between partying, napping, more partying and — oh yeah! — studying, they can sling whatever video they want to their screen without worrying about a monthly fee. The Slingbox M1 is priced at $149.99.