|Materials||Brass, stainless steel, ceramic, titanium, copper, plastic, latex, etc.|
A fidget spinner is a toy that consists of a ball bearing in the center of a multi-lobed (typically three-lobed) flat structure made from metal or plastic with metal weights in the lobes, designed to spin around its central axis. Fidget spinners became very prevalent trending toys in 2017.
The toy has been promoted as helping people who have trouble focusing or those who may need to fidget to relieve nervous energy, anxiety, or psychological stress. There are claims that a fidget spinner can help calm down people who have anxiety or mental disorders, such as ADHD and autism, though peer reviewed studies for this notion are lacking.
A fidget spinner consists of a round, flat central bearing (usually a ball bearing) that allows the arms connected to it to rotate; around this central axis, there are usually three weighted arms, but their number varies depending on the model. When spun forcefully, they can continue spinning for up to several minutes, depending on the model.
In an interview appearing on May 4, 2017, on NPR, Scott McCoskery described how he created a metal spinning device called a "Torqbar" around 2014 to satisfy with his own tendency to fidget in meetings and on conference calls while working in the information technology field in the Seattle, Washington, area of the United States. He said he believed it was the first fidget spinner as they became known in their popular form. In response to requests from an online community, he began selling the device online.
Popularity and usage
With the rapid increase in the popularity of fidget spinners in 2017, many children and teenagers began using them in school, and some schools also reported that students were trading and selling the spinner toys.
As a result of their frequent use by children at school, many school districts prohibited the toy. Some teachers argued that the spinners distracted students from their schoolwork. According to a survey conducted by Alexi Roy and published in May 2017, 32% of the largest 200 American public and private high schools had banned spinners on campus.
When fidget spinners rose in popularity in 2017, many publications in the popular press discussed the marketing claims made about them for people with ADHD, autism, or anxiety. However, there has not been research proving this notion. They quickly fell in popularity and sales after peaking in May 2017.
Invention and patent status
As of May 2017, the patent status of the various fidget spinners on the market was unclear. Catherine Hettinger, a chemical engineer by training, was initially credited by some news stories as having been the inventor of the fidget spinner, including by media outlets such as Money, The Guardian, The New York Times, and the New York Post. Indeed, Hettinger had filed a patent application for a "spinning toy" in May 1993 and a patent had been issued to her in January 1997 for the claimed invention. Hettinger had allowed the patent to lapse in 2005 after she could not find a commercial partner to produce and market the toy. Even if she had not allowed the patent to lapse in 2005, it would have expired in January 2014, before fidget spinners became popular. Moreover, a May 2017 Bloomberg News article showed that Hettinger had not been the inventor of the fidget spinner since her toy did not have a similar central bearing that allowed it to be held and tilted while spinning, and Hettinger agreed.
On May 11, 2016, McCoskery filed a provisional patent application for a (utility) patent on the invention of a version of the toy with a centrally mounted ball bearing and other particular features (with illustrations showing two- or three-lobed versions of the toy), and after following up with a final patent application in May 2017, he was granted a U.S. patent in March 2018.
On November 29, 2016, David Allen Pavelsky of Killeen, Texas, applied for a design patent (not claiming an original functional invention) on a three-lobed version of the toy with a centrally mounted ball bearing and other particular features, and he was granted a design patent in October 2017.
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- Roy, Alexi (May 10, 2017). "The Fidget Spinners Are Banned in 32% of the Largest High Schools U.S." Spinner List. Archived from the original on September 15, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
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- Miller, Joshua Rhett (May 5, 2017). "Woman who invented fidget spinners isn't getting squat". New York Post.
- US 5591062A, Catherine A. Hettinger, "Spinning toy", published 1997-01-07, issued 1997-01-07
- US 9914063B1, Michael Scott McCoskery, "Toy designed to spin in a user's hand", issued 2018-03-13
- US D801440S1, David Allen Pavelsky, "Triple ended spinner toy", issued 2017-10-31