17 Inventions That Could Make Going Back to School a Little Bit Easier

From an aromatic alarm clock to a school bus locator system, these patented products could help students and parents with the transition

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Shaylyn Esposito

There are the staples of school supply lists: Elmer's glue, crayons, loose-leaf paper, pocket folders, three-ring binders and pencils. And then there are those less essential but highly desirable things—gel pens and scented markers, pencil cases and locker decorations—that spark store-aisle debates between parents and kids embarking on a new school year.

A search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office archives turns up loads of inventions that parents and children can appreciate this time of year. A walkie-talkie pen? How about a gumball-dispensing t-shirt for the first day? These 17 quirky products could ease the sometimes rocky transtion back to school.

The Robot Lunch Box

Open a special compartment in this lunch box, and it turns into a robot! The inventors of the product, patented in 1987, wanted to make their very own "Transformer," given the popularity of the cartoon series.

The Smelly Alarm Clock

Why wake up to a piercing buzzer or nagging parents when you could set an aromatic alarm clock to coax you out of bed with a pleasant-smelling mist?

The Gumball-Dispensing T-Shirt

Guaranteed to make you some friends, just make sure that you have enough inventory for the entire class.

The Walkie-Talkie Pen

No need to pass notes with this "walkie-talkie pen." Just be prepared for teacher to confiscate it, especially if you try swapping test answers.

The Creepy Pet Vest

This vest with transparent passageways and pockets for pets, like gerbils and hamsters, is a show (and tell) stopper!

A Ring That Mutes the TV

Nothing says "It's homework time!" like this TV mute finger ring, patented in 2004.

The Talking Lunch Box

Mom or Dad can record a voice message in this lunch box patented in 2002, so your kids will never forget to leave dessert for last.

Socks With Secret Pockets

Stash your lunch money in these socks, with hidden pockets.

The Backpack Jacket

This clever backpack has a built-in jacket.

The School Bus Locator

Before GPS tracking apps, this "school bus locator system," patented in 1992, could save you from missing the bus. It consists of a radio transmitter on the bus and a receiver in your home that lights up, as a first warning, and then emits a sound when the bus is about one quarter mile away.

The Ultimate Locker Organizer

Pens, books, a cell phone and snacks all have their place in this locker organizer.

Disposable Gym Clothes

Perfect for gym class, this "disposable clothing" is made to withstand physical activity and lined with perspiration-absorbent material.

A Shopping Cart That Keeps Track of Your Spending

This shopping cart, with a scanning device mounted to it, gives back-to-school shoppers a running total of their spending.

Be One With Your Bike

If you have a downhill commute, consider biking to school on this "body-connected bike." Or pull it out at recess. Squeeze your knees together to brake.

A Cuddly Sleeping Bag

Moms and Dads, when you are not there to hug your napping kindergartner, this "child's security enhancing sleeping bag," patented in 1996, will.

The Lip Balm Pen

Pen on one end, lip balm on the other. Simple as that.

The Game of School

To be first-day ready, it wouldn't hurt to play this board game that simulates the school experience. According to the 1983 patent, the game "gives insight into the roles, values, desires and goals of both teacher, student and others within the school environment and perhaps a better understanding of the underlying institution."