Learning the Future
Going to college is all about preparing for the future, but the living conditions are so primitive that it’s a wonder college students learn anything while living on top of each other in bunk beds, eating mediocre meals in the dining halls and staying in the lab until all hours of the night. One thing is certain: there is a lot of room for improvement.
Previously, we looked at the new dorm room essentials to cover the basics of what a student needs to get their dorm lives organized. Here, we kick it up a notch. What follows are nine gadgets that will pimp out a dorm room with the most futuristic technology to bring the classic dorm room into the 21st century and beyond.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
While most new students can’t sidestep the humiliation of sharing a 60-square-foot living space with three other people, they can avoid the high school cafeteria humiliation of the dining hall. At least they can now, thanks to LG.
The Taiwanese appliance giant whose name stands for “Life’s Good” has made life a little better with its LCSP1110ST microwave oven, a brilliant piece of engineering that combines a 1,000-watt microwave with a 1,400-watt pizza oven for pizzas, cookies, tuna melts or whatever else you want to eat besides ramen noodles.
Price: $199 on Amazon.com
Photo Credit: Amazon
All-in-One Breakfast Appliance
If you’re one of those dorm room gourmands looking to do a little bit more than just reheat prepared foods in your room, then this three-in-one breakfast-oriented appliance from SPT will literally put the cooking capability of a New York apartment in the comfort of your room. Set the four-cup drip coffeemaker to percolate, drop your bagel in the toaster oven, and use the non-stick frying pan on top to scramble some eggs and bang – you’ve got yourself a proper breakfast.
Price: $69 from SPT
Photo Credit: SPT
Taking notes during a college lecture will never be the same after using a Livescribe pen. Not only does the built-in audio recorder preserve an mp3 of whatever you are listening to, but it will even sync up that recording with whatever you are writing at the time. That means that later on, when you’re studying, you can find a particular spot in your notes (say where you can’t even read your own chicken scratch) and listen to exactly what the professor was saying at the time.
OK, you have to use some special paper, and you’ll want to sit close to the front so you get clear audio, but considering that the pen takes notes better than your brain can is worth a little bit of nerd-ness.
Photo Credit: Livescribe
Sometimes innovation isn’t about technology, but rather about design. The forward-thinking folks at Resource Furniture have taken the best of modern, space-saving designs from European furniture maker Clei to organize the life of anyone living in a cramped space.
In college dorms, there’s usually barely enough space for the roommates to live, much less entertain. But as long as you’ve got a little bit of floor space, the Cubista ottoman’s ingenious design will set you up with five seats for you and your friends. Each of the ottoman’s five padded faces comes off and attaches to the nested bases inside. That’s five stools for the price of one ottoman.
Price: available on request
Photo Credit: Resource Furniture
Some things never change, and however technology evolves, you can be sure that the dorm room of the future will still have a little board mounted in the hallway for friends to write messages to you while you are out. As we wait for touchscreens to be installed everywhere we go – as they eventually will be – college students can invest just $39.99 in a Boogie Board LCD Tablet, which works just like a chalkboard but without chalk.
The Boogie Board is light and cordless, meaning you can mount it in the hallway and take it down every time you want to doodle or practice your long division.
Price: $39.99 from ThinkGeek
Photo Credit: ThinkGeek
Privacy and security are becoming more and more important as young entrepreneurs routinely create life-changing innovations while still in college (Facebook, anyone?), so protecting your digital data is essential. Eventually all computers will surely come with bult-in retina or DNA scanners but these days you can get yourself a fingerprint scanner that you can just plug into your computer to prevent unauthorized entry into your files. UPEK offers a USB fingerprint reader that seems to be the best-reviewed option out there.
Price: $46.51 on Amazon
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
When sharing close quarters with up to three other strangers, your digital data isn’t the only thing you should be worried about. Whether it’s jewelry, an iPod or the prototype sketch of the next billion-dollar idea you’re working on, a personal hidden safe is an elegant solution to the problem. Safes concealed in Coke bottles or shaving cream canisters have been around forever, but a dedicated thief can just walk out with it if he knows what’s inside. More effective is the U.S. Patrol Hidden Wall Safe – for less than five bucks you get a safe shaped like an electrical socket and secured with a key. Granted, it’s only 8 x 3.8 x 3 inches, but it should protect at least the essentials.
Price: $4.94 on Amazon
Photo Credit: Amazon
Beneath all the hype surrounding 3-D printers is the reality that the made-to-order process of additive manufacturing will revolutionize the way things are made. The ability to quickly “print” a prototype of pretty much anything in materials from plastic to ceramic to steel will also revolutionize the way students learn, at least once the technology becomes cheap enough. Architecture students will no longer need to build their scale models with balsa wood and glue guns; engineering students will be able to test their computer designs with a printed model in minutes; art students will find a whole new world of physical shapes and objects to make as they see fit. Until prices drop enough to have a 3-D printer in every dorm room, aspiring (and wealthy) makers can get their hands on a self-contained cabinet printer from MakerBot, which makes the aptly-named Thing-O-Matic for $1,299. Sure it takes up space and sure it costs as much as an entire year’s worth of textbooks, but it’s a small price to pay for a real taste of the future.
Price: $1,299 from MakerBot
Photo Credit: MakerBot
The Roomba is so last year. Sure, an automated little vacuum-bot is a cute way to pick up dust while you’re off at work, but it doesn’t at all address the way we actually make a mess of our living spaces: clutter. And college students are the some of the biggest pack rats out there. Eventually the robot maids will be able to tidy up any mess their programmers choose to teach them about, but for now we have the Roomba’s handier (it’s got hands) and friendlier (it’s got eyes) cousin, the WowWee Roboscooper. It’s basically a dump truck with arms, and it works as both an automated de-clutter robot and a remote-controlled picker-upper for people who are just too lazy to get off the bunk bed to clean.
Price: $69.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer
Photo Credit: Hammacher Schlemmer