The best education wearables and smartwatch apps for learning

From tech toys at home to VR expeditions in class, turns out learning IS fun
Best education wearables and apps

Why read a geography textbook when you can experience the Sahara desert in VR, or learn about science by wearing a smart t-shirt?

Wearable tech has a big role in creating the classroom of tomorrow. In fact, according to Research and Markets, adoption of wearable technology in schools will grow by 46% per year over the next five years.

And it's not just teachers using devices like VR headsets and smartwatches in class to make teaching fun and interactive, parents can make homework and game based learning future friendly too. Here's our pick of the top education wearable tech and apps, for all ages, to consider.

At home

LeapBand

Designed by educational entertainment company Leapfrog, LeapBand is a wearable activity tracker designed for kids aged between 4 - 7. Funky and colourful, it gets kids moving and thinking by taking part in over 50 activities and challenges while tracking their movements.

Kids can nurture their own virtual pet, learning about healthy nutrition and completing audio challenges. The watch has a built-in accelerometer, a high-res screen, a rechargeable battery and a waterproof design.

$19.99, leapfrog.com | Amazon

Duolingo

If you're a student studying languages or know someone who is, then Duolingo is a must have. The popular linguistics app is now available on Android Wear, letting you practise languages like Spanish, German, Italian and Swedish on-the-go.

Instead of bombarding you with loads of complex information, the app boils it down to simple tasks. After choosing the language you want to learn, you'll be shown flashcards telling you to "think of a word for x" and you have to guess the right answer.

Free, Google Play

Mover Kit

With the demand for digital skills growing, it's becoming increasingly important for schools to get youngsters interested in tech. Connected toy company Technology Will Save Us is championing this with the Mover Kit, the first wearable children can make themselves and code to do different things. Straight out of the box, kids can begin connecting the electronics, case and accessories to make their own wearable in 15 minutes.

Using an easy-to-use online platform called Make, they can then create their own smart modes by coding the kit's accelerometer, magnetometer and LEDs to respond to inputs, such as disco lights or in an obstacle course. The company has raised over $80,000 already through Kickstarter and hopes to have the kit on sale this autumn.

$55, techwillsaveus.com

Instapaper

Before the days of the internet, school meant you had to drag a bulk of thick, heavy books wherever you went. With Instapaper on Apple Watch, you can access as many articles as you want and convert them from text to speech by connecting to your iPhone.

Your smartwatch acts as a controller, allowing you to play, pause, fast forward, rewind scrolling articles and save/archive with a longpress. What's more, teachers have the option to assign articles to pupils, making the app a valuable asset to the modern-day classroom.

Free, iTunes

At school

Muse

One of the biggest challenges for teachers is determining what their pupils think of certain topics and how they're engaging with them. Muse, a brain-sensing headband, could change that in the future.

Sporting seven EEG sensors that track brain signals like heart rate monitors, the band can help teachers work out how their class responds to tasks and determine the most effective. It's also possible to use Muse as a way to evaluate your learning progress by comparing brain activity maps, perfect for improving in subjects you're not confident with.

$299, choosemuse.com | Amazon

Google Expeditions

Learning about Mars or the bottom of the sea isn't too fun when reading out of an old, dusty textbook. The solution? Virtual reality. Google Expeditions lets teachers create virtual journeys for their classes by using the search giant's VR headset Cardboard.

Currently, there are over 150 immersive places children can visit through the headset, such as coral reefs and the moon. Teachers can act as tour guides pointing out highlighted objects/areas with editable notes. Pilots are running in the US, UK, Australia and Brazil.

Free, support.google.com

Curiscope Virtuali-Tee

Still waiting for X-ray vision? Well, edtech company Curiscope has the next best thing: the Virtuali-Tee. It's an augmented reality t-shirt that lets you view the human anatomy through your smartphone.

Just download the app and point your phone at someone wearing the t-shirt, and you'll be able to view their bones, organs and blood vessels. You can also point at specific body parts to learn more about them. There's the ability to use a VR headset for 360 immersion, too.

£22, curioscope.com

zSpace Display

The zSpace Display is like something out of science fiction. It's a desktop computer system that allows you to view and interact with holograms, using high-definition 3D graphics and head-tracking technology with motion parallax and a stylus. Just chuck on a pair of VR goggles, and you'll be able to experience amazing visuals.

The company runs an education programme in which the tech is being used in schools, colleges and universities to transform STEM learning. There are over 200 applications that teachers can make use of so far, covering topics like Ancient Egypt and human biology.

Various, edu.zspace.com

Microsoft HoloLens

Tech giant Microsoft is also dabbling in the world of AR with HoloLens, a pair of head-mounted smartglasses which let you view holograms. At the moment, the glasses are in the pre-production phase and are currently being offered to developers in the US and Canada for $3000.

However, Microsoft is already looking at ways the glasses can transform the classroom environment. Last year, it teamed up with Case Western University and demonstrated what a future human anatomy class may look like.

$3000 (developer's edition), microsoft.com

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