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.