The Best Fidget Devices of Today
And a few from years past
When you reach for your fidget spinner, stim cube, or stress ball, you could be forgiven for believing that you’re applying a modern solution to an old problem. Fidgeting itself has been an observed human behaviour for as long as we’ve been observing ourselves, but the toys and devices we use today all seem rather modern, what with all the plastic, metal, and ball bearings.
As it turns out, however, humans have been making stim toys for a very long time. During the Ming dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, the Baoding balls were invented; two iron balls which the user rotates in their hand. Even before that, there were the komboloi or “worry beads,” thought to have originated on Mount Athos, Greece, approximately 800 years ago – they are similar in design to prayer beads, though the komboloi have no religious significance.
This brings us back to today. If you’re looking to get a device to help manage stress, to help you focus, or just for the fun of it, you have a variety of options. Below are just a few of the most popular fidget/stim devices available today; and if you’re a traditionalist, Baoding balls and komboloi remain viable options.
1. Fidget Spinner
Ahh, a modern classic. These spinning devices erupted in popularity during the spring of 2017, and led to many school districts banning the devices in classrooms. Though their commercial success was recent, the device was initially patented by Catherine Hettinger in 1993; when she couldn’t find commercial partners to fund production of the toy, she let the patent lapse in 2005. Now, many manufacturers sell spinners in all different colours and designs. And though they’ve dropped in popularity, they remain an effective tool for occupying your hands.
2. Fidget Cube
The fidget cube began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, which had a stated goal of reaching $15,000 in start-up funding. They raised $6,038,945. It’s safe to say that there was a demand for the product. The device has six sides: a switch, gears, a rolling ball, a joystick, a spinning disk, a worry stone, and five buttons. If you’re looking for one device that serves multiple fidgeting functions, consider this cube.
3. The Noah Bike Chain Fidget
This one is pretty unique. Two segments that include metal pieces resembling bike chains, interlocked with silicone bands and circular metal rings. Described as a treadmill for your fingers. The function of the device is a kind of rolling motion within your hand, where the segments are slid back and forth around their rings. Quiet and stimulating, consider this toy for when you want to fidget silently; but be warned, the design is more for adults. Kids might find that their fingers get stuck.
4. Infinity Cube
What is so satisfying about the cube shape? Its eight cubes are fastened together in such a way that they can be folded out, rearranged, and flipped about. It’s like a 2 x 2 Rubik’s cube, but folds instead of twisting. Like if a tiny Rubik’s cube was a transformer instead of a puzzle. No wrong way to operate this little device, and it’s very satisfying with the ability to keep it in constant motion.
5. Push Bubble Sheets
Have you ever been more excited about the bubble wrap that came with a package than the actual contents of the bubble wrap itself? Ever been sad when that sheet of bubble wrap was all used up? If yes, then behold: the bubble wrap sheets of the future, provided by the grace of silicone, science, and commerce.
Alright, maybe we’re being a bit grandiose. It’s a sheet of silicone which has bubbles on it that can be popped, flipped over, and popped again. Perhaps not world-shifting technology, but definitely satisfying, and easily washed to boot. This one can be a bit noisy, and is the largest of the fidget toys on this list, but suitable for all ages.