Jessica Pettway for TIME; Prop styling by Stephanie L. Yeh

Robots fascinate Van Robotics CEO Laura Boccanfuso. But while getting her Ph.D. in computer science, she felt most were too expensive and technical for real-life applications. So she developed ABii, a robot tutor aimed at closing the math and reading proficiency gap for K-5 students. This is no mere toy: the 16-by-8-in. Device is designed to work with teachers—and, increasingly, parents now that so many children are learning from home—with a curriculum created by certified educators. Its edge: using a camera to detect changes in student attention and optimizing its tutoring approach to resonate with individual learners. “Schools more than ever need individualized learning help,” Boccanfuso says. “[They] don’t have enough teachers in the classroom.” Schools that buy ABii for $999 receive 30 student licenses that come with lesson plans that are updated regularly to meet national standards; the home version ($599) offers the same features with just three licenses. —Nadia Suleman

Buy now: Van Robotics ABii

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