Northeastern holiday gift guide 2022: The best gifts in tech

hand drawing on a tablet
From health trackers to cutting edge electronic notebooks, there’s no shortage of technological gifts for the holiday season. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Technology is always evolving, so why shouldn’t your holiday gift giving? When it comes to tech gifts this holiday season, Northeastern University faculty all agree that it comes down to the little things, making life easier or better on a daily basis.

Whether it’s a cutting-edge electronic notebook that makes studying and note taking easier for a student in your life or a device that simplifies the two-factor authentication process we’re all using nowadays, these faculty-recommended pieces of tech will help update the holidays.

Next-level note taking

There was only one piece of tech that multiple Northeastern professors recommended: the Ratta Supernote.

An e-ink note taking display, the Supernote is admittedly a bit pricey but worth every penny, say John Basl, associate professor of philosophy, and Kristen Lee, lead faculty in behavioral science and leadership.

“While expensive, it’s worth the investment because of its tremendous versatility and impact on important areas of our lives,” Lee says. “The benefits of writing, reading and staying organized are all well-documented, helping us to maximize our understanding of ourselves and the world. Plus, it helps with energy and time.”

The Supernote integrates Kindle, which allows you to read e-books as well as PDFs, and is sure to replace a standard notebook, cutting down on the amount of paper you or your student use each semester.

Bio-inspired robotics

Robots and drones are becoming more common, but these animal-inspired designs will help you stand out from the pack, says Alireza Ramezani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

For a gift that will get the whole house buzzing, Ramezani recommends Bionic Bird’s MetaFly or MetaBird. Controlled using a smartphone, these bug- and bird-like designs have distinct advantages over typical quadcopters.

“These ornithopters … are easy to fly, robust, and beautifully designed,” Ramezani, who focuses on bio-inspired robotics, says. “Plus, they are different [from] conventional rotary-wing quadcopters which are noisy and intrusive.” 

If you want something a bit more terrestrial, Ramezani suggests Petoi’s robot dog, a smaller, cheaper robot that is “almost identical to Boston Dynamics’ spotmini” robot, he says.

Helpful shortcuts

If you live a busy life, every second matters. That means even the smallest inconveniences can add up. Basl suggests two gadgets that can help streamline and simplify your life.

First, there’s the Elgato Stream Deck. Typically used by streamers and online content creators for video recording, Basl says it’s also helpful for creating shortcuts for all kinds of tasks on a computer.

“I have shortcuts to mute/unmute my mic in meetings, shortcuts I use when grading to paste in commonly used comments and shortcuts to open groups of programs I tend to use at the same time like my word processor and citation manager,” Basl says.

Basl and Christo Wilson, director of Northeastern’s cybersecurity program, also recommend Yubico’s YubiKey, a two-factor authentication device. Instead of getting a push alert to your phone, you can tap this small USB drive that connects to your computer. 

Not only is it convenient, but it ups your cybersecurity game, Wilson says. After setting up an account and plugging in the YubiKey, Wilson says it “completely defeats phishing and password cracking attacks.”

Upgrading wellness

When it comes to tracking your health and wellness, Lee and Kathleen Mackenzie, a senior lecturer of behavioral science and applied nutrition at Northeastern, recommend Oura rings.

Although it looks like an ordinary ring, Oura’s health monitoring devices are designed for more than just style. Oura’s ring and application work hand in hand to track your sleep pattern, heart rate and activity levels, all while providing you with custom advice on what your body needs. Oura also comes with more than 50 guided audio meditation sessions to make sure your mind and body are being taken care of.

“Achieving great sleep has become exponentially more difficult for a variety of reasons,” Mackenzie says. “If you have sleep challenges, the Oura ring is not only the best device for collecting and tracking sleep data, it also provides the user with tips and guidance on getting quality sleep based on the data.”

Staying charged

With all this tech, it’s important to stay charged. There’s nothing worse than going to use a device and seeing that you’re low on battery. Luckily, Wilson has a fix for that.

It’s not an exciting gift, but he says Anker’s gallium nitride device chargers are life-changers. 

“They’re much smaller than the chargers that come with your phone or laptop, they charge your phone faster and the high-wattage ones can charge multiple devices at the same time,” Wilson says.

For media inquiries, please contact