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updated: 8/14/2014 8:29 AM

Five gadgets aimed for back-to-school time

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  • Brenthaven Collins Backpack

    Brenthaven Collins Backpack

  • Lunchbots


  • Dropcam


  • Nokia Treasure Tag

    Nokia Treasure Tag

  • myHomework


By Miles Dobis

Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. You know: backyard barbecues, an afternoon at the beach.

And, of course, the moment you realize it's all coming to an end and it's time to start sorting through all the back-to-school sales.

While traditional items such as pencils and notebooks are necessities, technology and reliance on cellphones and computers are increasingly changing the way students approach schoolwork.

You can't consider carpooling, homework or even lunch these days without talking about increasing efficiency with all sorts of gadgets manufacturers are pushing to help students balance school and home life.

Here are five emerging trends to be aware of while preparing for the start of school.

• Dropcam: $149-$199.

Is your child having problems getting his or her homework done on time?

This device, designed for families, allows you to place a low-profile camera and microphone in any room of the house to help you check on your child's progress or send a verbal warning.

The camera comes equipped with night vision, two-way microphones and a security system. It can be ordered at

• Brenthaven Collins Convertible Backpack: $90.

The bag combines the trends of messenger bags and laptop-compatible backpacks all in one. A tuckaway strap allows the bag to convert into a one-strap messenger bag, and pouches on the sides are sized for small laptops and tablets. It can be ordered at

• LunchBots: $9.99-$21.99; sets for $51.99.

Forget the old paper bag with egg salad or peanut butter and jelly. These stainless steel containers are designed for bento boxes, kebabs and even cupcakes. They can handle hot or cold food and also come with thermoses and even condiment containers. Order them at

• myHomework: Free.

Compatible with Apple, Windows 8, Android and Kindle Fire, this app is designed to be a complementary tutor, scheduler and motivator all at once.

Set up so students can use it at home or at school during study hall, the app sends reminders of tests and quizzes, tracks grading on individual classes and can connect with teachers with the same app. It even rewards good grades with prizes like movie tickets.

Available at Apple's App Store, Google Play, the Windows Store and Amazon Apps.

• Nokia Treasure Tag: $30 and compatible with Nokia products.

At the beginning of the school year, when students are developing a routine, who knows where lunchboxes, backpacks and textbooks may wind up. The treasure tag is the solution for the forgetful student and part of an emerging trend of "smart accessories" for younger users.

Small and colorful clips can be attached to almost any object and a sensor will remind you or the student's phone that an object is about to be left behind. Samsung and HTC have similar products for their respective phones.

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