This desktop gadget helps students learn independently by making them more social

Although many schools have returned to traditional face-to-face interactions, there are still some that use online instruction. Even without these recent changes in school systems around the world, there have always been times when students have had to complete their schoolwork alone, away from classmates and friends. Of course, smartphones and computers make connecting with others remotely all too easy, to the point where they become distractions instead. Finding a balance between focus and socialization in the internet age can be a daunting prospect for both students and their parents. Because of this, this rather odd touchscreen device tries to perform this delicate dance by connecting students without becoming a distraction.

Designers: Simay Tokus, Muhammet Uzuntas, Brenda Gallardo Flores

Self-study has long been encouraged by many education systems, but let’s face it, few students truly enjoy and thrive on it. While they may be able to focus for a while, they eventually yearn to connect with their classmates, especially when they encounter a problem they can’t solve on their own. Smartphones and the Internet break down barriers and connect students easily with each other. Unfortunately, they are a distraction even when the screen is off.

Summy is a dedicated device designed to keep students connected while setting limits on the number of interruptions they can make. Basically, the device is a voice messaging service, a timer, a daily planner and a kind of social network among friends, most likely students of the same class or grade. The idea is that you can only send short voice messages to people in your circle, at least only when they’re available.


The device uses a user interface of concentric circles and icons represented by old-school monochrome 8-bit characters. Tapping a friend’s icon lets you send a voice message, which is more limited and less disruptive than a voice call. You can see other friends’ daily schedules, and when they’re free, you can send a “Study with me” request so you can both set a synced timer to study for the same amount of time.

Summy creates a more playful atmosphere around the concept of collaborative learning, even remotely, making it easier for students, especially younger ones, to get used to the system, which might remind them of mobile games that only feature brief bursts of activity and communication. The spherical shape of the device reinforces this playful character, especially by flipping the screen to turn off the device. Of course, this only works if the student has several friends willing to play the same “game”, but Summy can also be a fun gadget to keep track of their own time and maybe a retro display on their desk have to keep them entertained.


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