As designers, we’ll always need certain tools and resources to get the job done. Our own Shillington teachers and students couldn’t get by without pen and paper, a computer and the Adobe Creative Suite. But what about all the non-essential fun stuff? The kind of gadgets that we don’t really need but would love to play with?

If you love to experiment with the latest technology and push your design skills to the limit, these 20 hi-tech toys are sure to inspire and enhance your creativity in brand new ways. Just imagine what you could create with the Polaroid 3D Pen, how streamlined your design process would become with Palette and how presentations could be taken up a gear with the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro! Add these gadgets to your wish list.

1. DayDream View

While no one’s quite sure where VR is heading, one thing’s for certain: it’s going to be an important part of the future of design. Google’s new Daydream headset is a step up from the quite basic Google Cardboard, yet still at a low price. Right now, it only works with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones, but the range of compatible devices will expand over the coming months.

Priced at £69 | Find out more

2. Palette

Do you find working in software like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign overly fiddly? Palette starts from the proposition that using just one mouse to move back and forth, over and over again, is not the ideal way to design. Instead, you can end cursor cramps and eye strain by assigning different buttons, dials and sliders to your favourite design software functions.

Priced from $199.99 | Find out more

3. Cube

Image courtesy of Cube

You know the old saying ‘good things come in small packages’? Although you might not be aware, they were talking specifically about Cube. The small, white box is a portable colour digitaliser, which allows users to capture any colour, on any surface, with the tap of a button.

Priced at $179 | Find out more

4. Turnikit

Image courtesy of Turnkit

Smartphone cameras have revolutionised the world of photography, giving everyone with an Instagram account the platform to share their snaps. Taking this one step further is the iPhone SLR mount, Turnikit, which puts the user in total control of focusing an image or video. If you thought Hudson was your best filter, think again.

Priced from $149 | Find out more

5. Polaroid 3D Pen

Having delighted families with its Polaroid Play 3D Pen for kids, Polaroid has now launched a 3D pen with “artists, designers, engineers and other professionals in mind”. The Polaroid Design 3D Pen features a built-in fan to reduce heat and eliminate jamming, auto-feed and auto-eject functions, variable speed, precise temperature setting and an OLED screen. It’s available for pre-order as part of an Indiegogo campaign, shipping in July.

Pre-order for $130 | Find out more

6. Cyber Clean – Electronics Cleaning Putty

We’re all guilty of dropping the odd biscuit crumb on to our keyboards. But thanks to Cyber Clean, no one ever need know. Both non-toxic and biodegradable, the Swiss formula is a cleaning compound designed to get into those tricky, hard to reach places.

Priced at $8.04 | Buy the gadget

7. Huion L4S LED Light Pad

This A4, super thin light pad is the perfect tool for designers. Using eyesight-protecting technology, it allows for comfortable sketching and drawing. The maximum brightness of 1500 Lux also makes tracing a breeze. Simply connect to your computer through the in-built USB port.

Priced at $45.76 | Find out more

8. SanDisk Wireless Connect Stick 256GB

This wireless flash drive enables lightning-fast storage and transfer of massive files from one iPhone or iPad to another iOS device, Mac, or PC, over a password-protected Wi-Fi network. This clever device has been around a while now, but the latest version now has a huge 256GB capacity.

Priced at £175 | Find out more

9. Glowforge – 3D Printer

Image courtesy of Glowforge

Glowforge is a wireless 3D laser printer that’s small enough to fit on a desktop, integrates with the most popular design programmes, and stores all designs and data on a cloud solution. Although 3D printing isn’t an office staple just yet, it’s definitely high on our wish list.

Find out more

10. FLI Charge

Charging multiple devices at once can be a hassle, especially if you’re short of sockets. The FLI Charge is a wireless charging pad for smartphones and other devices that use a USB charging cable. It’s an elegant solution to keep your workspace clutter-free and your devices constantly powered up.

Priced from $149 | Find out more

11. Satechi Type-C USB

Image courtesy of Satechi

The Satechi Type-C USB Hub allows you to use your old USB peripherals by converting a Type-C USB port to three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a Micro SD card slot. Mac users will wonder how they lived without it.

Find out more

12. eora 3D

What began as an ingenious Kickstarter campaign is now a manufactured product available for pre-order. Using laser technology, the team at eora 3D has created a system that turns a smartphone into a highly accurate 3D scanner.

Available for pre-order only | Find out more

13. Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock enables you to connect a multitude of devices to your MacBook Pro or Windows laptop at once. Use only one cable to charge your computer, drive dual displays and network at full speed. Due for release on 6 June, this dock features three USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt USB-C ports, 1 DisplayPort (with DisplayPort 1.2 support), a 3.5mm audio jack, and a 3.5mm microphone input jack.

Pre-order for £269.95 | Find out more

14. Solar Paper

Image courtesy of Solar Paper

Solar Paper is the world’s first solar charger – so thin and ultra lightweight that it can be placed inside your notebook. Harness the power of the sun to ensure your electronics never get caught short again.

Find out more

15. Olloclip iPhone 7 Core Lens Set

The iPhone 7’s camera is already pretty versatile. But if you want to step it up a notch, then this lens set includes a fisheye lens, a 120 degree wide-angle lens, and a 15x macro lens, to give you a greater range of options when out shooting imagery for use in your design projects.

Priced from £99.99 | Find out more

16. Samsung Gear 360

Although the Samsung Gear 360 looks like a miniature version of BB-8, its power should not be underestimated. Comprising both front and rear lenses, the compact camera offers a complete 360-degree field of view.

Find out more

17. Intuos Pro Paper Edition

Wacom has long been the king of drawing tablets, but it never makes the mistake of resting on its laurels. Its latest tablet not only has improved pressure sensitivity but allows you to draw directly onto paper using a special Finetip Pen, which automagically transfers your artwork to the tablet.

Priced from £379.99 | Find out more

18. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a 10.1-inch tablet with a difference: it comes with a built-in, rotatable projector that can cast an image up to 70 inches wide. That’s pretty handy if you’re giving a presentation as part of your work (not to mention watching TV on it at the end of the day).

Priced from £449.99 | Find out more

19. Microsoft Surface Laptop

With its new 13.5in Surface Laptop, Microsoft is directly targeting the MacBook Air with a device that’s cheaper, larger and claims to have better battery life. Plus, it’s even taking on Apple aesthetically, with a beautiful design that uses imported Italian fabrics and comes in a choice of four colours: Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold.

Priced from £979.99 | Find out more

20. Lima

When you’re a designer, virtual storage is one of the most important tools in your kit. And as no one wants to spend time worrying about cloud storage solutions, Lima offers full service software to cover your every need. Whether that be saving large files, or offline access management, they’ve got you covered.

Find out more

Which gadget is top of your list? Share in the comments below!

Main image credit—Google