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A new crop of stress toys is here to take over where fidget spinners left off

March Mindfulness is our new series that examines the explosive growth in mindfulness and meditation technology — culminating in Mashable’s groundbreaking competitive meditation bracket contest. Because March shouldn’t be all madness. Reaching for your phone as a distraction from uncomfortable situations has become a reflex at this point. It’s a handy tactic to avoid eye…


March Mindfulnessis our new series that examines the explosive growth in mindfulness and meditation technology — culminating in Mashable’s groundbreaking competitive meditation bracket contest. Because March shouldn’t be all madness.


Reaching for your phone as a distraction from uncomfortable situations has become a reflex at this point. It’s a handy tactic to avoid eye contact in public, but bolting to social media or even self-care apps when you’re stressed or anxious could subconsciously be making you feel worse.

It’s time we find something to focus our energy that’s more productive than listening for Twitter’s refresh “pop” sound every five minutes.

Mindfulness and the focusonfocus aren’t new by any means, but have increasingly been in the spotlight due to a mass fixation on self care. Sure, being open and curious about the present without judging other ideas rattling your brain sounds great, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t come easy for everyone. Mastering mindfulness can take time — and the right level of expectations. For those who aren’t ready to hop on the meditation train, there are other options to help you chill out.

Enter: stress toys. When social media has become a dumpster fire and self-care apps just aren’t cutting it, something as simple as a physical toy can help you decompress. And while the fidget spinner is now just a memory rolling around on the floor of your car, its short life had a bigger impact than making Toys R Us airfreight tens of thousands of them to meet demand: It opened up the conversation about stress, nervous energy, and how seemingly useless little toys can affect how we focus. 

There hasn’t been a lot of peer-reviewed scientific research done on the science of fidgeting, but the mass obsession with the fidget spinner leads us to believe that stress toys are something people really want — and is hopefully opening the door for more research on the benefits. Forbes journalist Bruce Y. Lee dove into the idea of fidgeting:

“One thought is that fidgeting may occupy parts of your brain that otherwise would distract the rest of your brain with random thoughts. […] Fidgeting may prevent your mind from being occupied by obsessive and unhealthy thoughts such aswhat is the meaning of life,what do other people think of you,why aren’t you more attractive,why do others seem more successful on Facebook than you, andwhy isn’t Justin Beiber [SIC] returning your phone call?”

The modern stress toy market has expanded past fidget spinners and long beloved stress balls in an attempt to satisfy all the different ways we can work through this excess energy: Whether that’s squeezing, squishing, spinning, rolling, molding, building, or a mix. Similar to the way meditation apps guide you through breathing or have you stare at bubbles, these toys provide a way to regather yourself during an overwhelming situation or to simply channel some nervous energy.

A few seconds of focusing your energy on a stress toy — or simply giving your fingers something to do that’s not nervously biting your nails or picking at your skin — can help you slow down. Toys may not free you of other thoughts like meditation aims to, but they’re something that can help you pause when everything else is spinning. Plus, they’re perfect for daily use.

TL;DR: Everyone needs an outlet for stress sometimes, and it’s totally fine if yours is a stress toy. Here are eight of the best new stress toys you can buy on the internet.

Best squishy toy

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Image: pinch me
The Good

Stimulates multiple senses at once • Nine scent options

The Bad

Reviews mention receiving the wrong size

The Bottom Line

Knead your worries away with this pliable dough that feels great on your hands and smells good, too.

1. Pinch Me Therapy Dough

Knead your worries away with this pliable dough that feels great on your hands and smells good, too.

  • Stress-relief method:Squishing, molding
  • Scent options:Spa, beach, melon, spice, ocean, sun, citrus, chill, tropics
$29.95 from Amazon
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t touched Play-Doh in 20 years. The satisfaction you get from rolling, molding, and kneading something squishy doesn’t go away with age.
Pinch Me Therapy Dough comes packed in perfectly portable jars and is designed to release tension via kneading, squishing, and rolling. Available in nine colors and scents, like lavender, spice, and melon, you’ll be able to squish your way to inner peace and enjoy some calming aromatherapy in the process. Aromatherapy’s whole thing is about using scents to promote relaxation and general wellbeing,butwe can’t prove that it actually works. However, getting a whiff of something pleasant while sitting at your mundane office job could definitely be comforting. 

Best for subtlety

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Image: kinekt design
The Good

Something you can wear every day • Unique gear design

The Bad

Pricey for a stress toy

The Bottom Line

Keep your fingers busy without whipping out a toy with this mesmerizing spinning gear ring.

2. Spinning Gear Ring

The gears in this stainless steel ring move in unison and subtly keep your fingers busy.

  • Stress-relief method:Spinning
  • Options::Stainless steel, gold, rose gold, gunmetal
$165 from Kinekt Design
For serial finger tappers, pen clickers, or nail biters, this spinning ring keeps your fingers busy thanks to its gratifying turns and silent clicks. Its main selling point is the unique working gear design — but for anyone who cares about style, the stainless steel and intricate details make it a stellar accessory to boot.
Unlike other spinning rings that work with a smaller band inside a larger one, these micro-precision gears actually turn in unison like the gears in a bike. Just watching the video is hypnotizing, and seeing it IRL is guaranteed to have people asking to try it on. (But if you let them, you might not get it back.)

Best for creativity

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f951045%252f445e8357 bf76 4fec 9285 fc6d464c69a7.png%252f480x0.png?signature=ixihl8mrhj0l lunjxykhpnonfi=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: speks
The Good

Adds an element of creativity • 31 color options

The Bad

May be even smaller than you expect • Individual balls are easy to lose

The Bottom Line

Speks has found a way to make magnetic balls squishy, and with 31 color options, the possibilities are endless.

3. Speks Magnetic Balls

Meet the tiny magnetic balls that squish like dough and can create limitless geometric designs.

  • Stress-relief method:Squishing, molding
  • Options:31 colors to choose from, sizes range from 512 balls to 1,000 balls

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The best Elizabeth Warren memes from the 2020 campaign trail so far

Elizabeth Warren has mastered the art of delivering meme-worthy moments. It’s still early in campaign season, but the 2020 Democratic candidate has already shown America she has a great dog, great merch, and can hold her own on social media. She doesn’t shy away from sharing opinions on hot pop culture topics like Game of…


Elizabeth Warren has mastered the art of delivering meme-worthy moments.

It’s still early in campaign season, but the 2020 Democratic candidate has already shown America she has a great dog, great merch, and can hold her own on social media. She doesn’t shy away from sharing opinions on hot pop culture topics likeGame of Thrones, and has a plan for essentially everything. So it should come as no surprise that she’s already inspired some truly hilarious memes.

From joking about her calling people on the phone and her dedicated reading of the Mueller Report, to fictional policy plans and more, here are some of the best memes Elizabeth Warren has inspired during her run for president.

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Enter to win an iPhone XS Max and AirPods

What goes together better than peanut butter and jelly? There is only one correct answer: iPhone XS Max and AirPods. Lucky for you, this exciting duo of gadgets is being given away to a lucky reader. Just head on over to this page, enter your email, and you’re automatically in the running to take home…


What goes together better than peanut butter and jelly? There is only one correct answer: iPhone XS Max and AirPods.

Lucky for you, this exciting duo of gadgets is being given away to a lucky reader. Just head on over to this page, enter your email, and you’re automatically in the running to take home the prize. You can snag additional entries by sharing the giveaway on social media and sending the unique link to your friends and family. The giveaway is ending soon, so be sure to get your entries in now.

If you happen to have already spent all your money on these items, here are some amazing deals on Apple-ready accessories:

BentoStack Charge

Originally designed to function as a storage case for your Apple accessories, BentoStack now features a charger, too. With a Qi-certified wireless charger and 5,000 mAh battery built into the top cover, BentoStack keeps your devices juiced up and organized. When you’re traveling, you can tote the entire stack around or detach the top cover for an instant portable charger.

Normally retailing for $99.95, you can get the BentoStack Charge on sale today for $79.95 — a savings of 20%.

Enter to win an iPhone XS Max and AirPods

BentoStack Charge — $79.95
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Clear TPU Protective iPhone XS Max Case

A device as sexy as the iPhone XS Max does not deserve to be fully cocooned inside a solid color case. This transparent cover offers a case-less look to showcase the iPhone’s sleek design, all while giving your precious the protection it needs.

Grab one today for $9.99 — 66% off the usual retail pri

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No one agrees on what iMessage Tapbacks actually mean

In September 2016, Apple released iOS 10. With it came the iMessage Tapback, the convenient and highly ambiguous reaction feature that — nearly three years later — no one quite knows how to use. Tapbacks were created, one assumes, to make texting more convenient. It’s true that they’re nearly effortless to employ: Simply press on…


In September 2016, Apple released iOS 10. With it came the iMessage Tapback, the convenient and highly ambiguous reaction feature that — nearly three years later — no onequiteknows how to use.

Tapbacks were created, one assumes, to make texting more convenient. It’s true that they’re nearly effortless to employ: Simply press on a message until you’re presented with the Tapback options — a heart, a thumbs up, a thumbs down, a HAHA, a double exclamation point, and a question mark — and pick the one you want. Easy, right? You didn’t even have to type anything!

Here’s the trouble, though. There’s no practical consensus on what, exactly, Tapbacks are supposed to be, or mean. Thus, no implicit code of etiquette has emerged around their use. In our already anxiety-ridden texting culture, that’s a recipe for chaos.

The main question appears to be whether Tapbacks are meant to function as actual messages or as social media reactions. (Before you ask: Yes, iMessage is a social network.) Apple’s blurb on the subject calls Tapbacks a way to “quickly reply” to texts. But the mechanics and appearance of the feature are more similar to, say, a Twitter like, which is decidedlynota reply. A reply is (generally) meant to move a conversation forward; a reaction, which often marks the end of an exchange, reflects on messages already sent.

So when someone reacts to your question with a thumbs up Tapback, you just don’t know: Are they reacting to the message (“Thanks for asking me to go to the beach”) or are they replying affirmatively to the message’s contents (“Yes, I will go to the beach”)? If someone sends you a heart Tapback in lieu of a reply, are they saying “I’m into that” or “OK, but I would like the conversation to end?”

These questions don’t apply to every conversation. If you’re texting your best friend, for example, one Tapback probably won’t matter to you at all. But if you’re texting a more casual acquaintance — or worse, a crush — e

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While a flashy AI event raged in Dubai, a once promising robotics startup shuttered

The commercial chasm between Artificial Intelligence and physical robots is growing deeper every day — and the technology industry has chosen a winner.  In a massive convention center in Dubai, attendees of the AI Everything summit checked out booths from the likes of Google and Huawei, played with robots shooting hoops, and lined up for…


The commercial chasm between Artificial Intelligence and physical robots is growing deeper every day — and the technology industry has chosen a winner. 

In a massive convention center in Dubai, attendees of the AI Everything summit checked out booths from the likes of Google and Huawei, played with robots shooting hoops, and lined up for a Microsoft AI to determine the ice cream flavor they should have based on their mood. Based on social media from the summit, the message was clear: AI in all its forms is the future, the future is dope, and the future is here!

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#Robots amaze and intrigue visitors at the AI Everything show in #Dubai . 📷: @vbesaphoto13 / The National . #UAE #UnitedArabEmirates #Artificialintelligence #aieverything #AIEverything2019 #MyDubai #TheNationalUAE

A post shared by The National Newspaper (@thenationaluae) on

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Silicon Valley, the leaders of a celebrated and by all accounts innovative robotics company — once hyped by Apple — announced to employees that it was shutting its doors for good. On April 29, Recode reported that Anki was laying off its employees and shutting down for good. Despite having raised $200 million in the past, getting a debut on the Apple WWDC stage, and generating positive reviews for its playful robots, it was unable to secure the funding it needed to succeed long term.

“Despite our past successes, we pursued every financial avenue to fund our future product development and expand on our platforms,” a company spokesperson told Recode. “A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement. We’re doing our best to take care of every single employee and their families, and our management team continues to explore all options available.”

Roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University founded Anki, with ambitions to marry useful AI with personality-driven devices. Anki had success with its line of race car toys, and it upped the ante with its cute, smart, robotic companion toy, Cozmo. But it faltered with the 2018 debut of its Vector, which scored big on personality, but couldn’t compete with the skillsets of devices like Amazon’s Echo, powered by Alexa. As one Mashable reviewer put it at the time, “Vector’s purpose is a little unclear… [its] personality stands out more than any of the functions it can perform.”

Anki is not alone in its struggle to marry social robots with utility. The similarly cute Jibo robot announced to bewildered owners that it would cease to function in March. 

These tales of un-materialized robotic commercial ambition, set against the background of the Middle Eastern AI bonanza, tell a bigger story about what’s going on with AI. 

It’s cl

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