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Marvel is bringing its superheroes to VR with a new Oculus-exclusive game

The Incredible Hulk and some of his other box office money-grabbing super pals will be coming to the world of virtual reality.

Marvel Powers United VR, announced at Disneys D23 event on Saturday, will allow players a chance to step into the shoes of some familiar heroes as they destroy lots of stuff in VR.

Powers United VR, an Oculus-exclusive,looks pretty similar to existing VR wave shooters like Robo Recall, though its multiplayer could spice things up a bit. The main highlight will obviously be having IP from Marvel; players will be able to choose from 12 different Marvel characters as they exact righteous mayhem.

The title is being developed by Sanzaru Games, which has already done a couple VR titles for the Rift, including VR Sports Challenge and Ripcoil.

Facebook and Oculus have devoted $500 million to funding made-for-VR content. Oculus has been doing so largely with the hopes of attracting exclusives and interest from top AAA game publishers who have been reticent to invest significant cash into a space with so few users relative to console and PC audiences.

With Marvel, Oculus has found a partnership that allows it another big name exclusive to show off its highest-end Rift and Touch controller hardware, which it has heavily discounted in recent months as Facebook looks to sell units and keep up with competition in the niche VR space.

Building a hefty library of exclusives is even more important to the company following E3, where Oculus was largely overlooked as the highly influential ZeniMax-owned Bethesda announced a number of titles from blockbuster series, including DOOM, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, that it will be porting to competing virtual reality systems like HTCs Vive and Sonys Playstation VR. This comes as Facebook fights an injunction from the Oculus/ZeniMax lawsuit, for which it has already been ordered to pay up a half-billion dollars.

Marvel Powers United VR is bring slated for a 2018 release.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/16/marvel-is-bringing-its-superheroes-to-vr-with-a-new-oculus-exclusive-game/

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Spider-Man: Homecoming and the Problem With Marvels Movie Formula

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the breezy tween-oriented Marvel movie promised by its numerous trailers, commercials, posters and other assorted PR campaign spots. Its star, Tom Hollandwho took over official web-slinging duties last year, when he cameoed in Captain America: Civil Waris as good a Peter Parker as his predecessors, Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield, bringing an aw-shucks adolescent excitement to the part that helps energize its coming-of-age drama. Its boasts the usual CGI set pieces, sprinkled amidst its Disney Channel-grade high-school hijinks (replete with Shake It Ups Zendaya as an Ally Sheedy-esque classmate). It has a villain (Michael Keatons Vulture) who acts menacing and winds up posing little genuine threat to our hero. Its colorful and snappy, moves along at a reasonable clip, and features appearances by a few other comic-book luminaries, including Robert Downey Jr.s Iron Man and Chris Evans Captain America.

It is, almost to a tee, the definition of fine.

So it goes for Marvel, which has pioneered a nontoxic house style thats now mandatory for each entry in its ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)the designation for the countless franchises existing under the studios world-building umbrella (overseen by head honcho Kevin Feige). Spider-Man: Homecoming is merely the latest example of Marvels adherence to its formula: bright primary hues; brisk banter; rise-fall-rise narrative arcs; predictable dramatic and comedic beats; and special-effects sequences that substitute coherence for zippiness and flash. The result is that, whether its Spidey, Iron Man, Thor, Star-Lord or another wisecracking comic-book icon at the center of the action, a Marvel movie looks and sounds more or less the same.

For better and worse, Marvel has now become the leading proponent of what we might call Risk Aversion Cinemaan approach to 21st century blockbusterdom thats lucrative precisely because of its unadventurousness.

To be fair, some personality does occasionally sneak into the mixbe it Joss Whedons conversational volleys in The Avengers, Shane Blacks Christmastime fixation in Iron Man 3, or James Gunns smartass, soundtrack-centric humor in Guardians of the Galaxy. Even then, though, such distinctive touches are relatively minor, and often confined to the jokey writing side of things (a state of affairs probably also true of Novembers Taika Waititi-helmed Thor: Ragnarok). As with Jon Watts and Spider-Man: Homecoming (and Jon Favreau and Iron Man, and Kenneth Branagh and Thor, and Peyton Reed and Ant-Man, and also Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and 2019s Captain Marvel), Marvel hires directors who boast scant auteurist signatures so that all MCU installments will fit together neatly in its larger patchwork quilt. Stylistic anonymity is preferred; assembly-line competence is prized above all else.

This is undoubtedly why the idiosyncratic Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) departed Ant-Man, and why the studios biggest tentpolesthe upcoming two Avengers: Infinity War movies, set to feature more than 60 superheroesare being entrusted to Captain America: Civil War craftsmen Joe and Anthony Russo. As Watts told us last year, Marvel has industry leading technicians and artists manning every available aspect of production. Consequently, the studio not only sees no benefit in enlisting a highly eccentric artist to adapt a beloved characterwhich could lead to creative conflicts, as well as potential audience backlashbut it also has no need to hire a director with action-blockbuster experience. In fact, its probably better if they dont; that way, they save money on filmmakers who are happy to toe the company line in return for a career-making opportunity, and everyone else involved makes sure the finished product is cookie-cutter uniform.

On the one hand, complaining about Marvels strategy seems mildly misplaced, given that its summer spectaculars are by and large passably entertaining, and never god-awful. And to be sure, the flip-side paradigm doesnt necessarily inspire more confidence, as evidenced by the lukewarm (to put it mildly) responses to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justiceboth helmed by Zack Snyder, whos built an entire career on the back of his atmospheric visual flairas well as Suicide Squad (from Furys David Ayer). In light of the tremendous success of Christopher Nolans Dark Knight trilogy, Warner Bros. and DC Comics likely assumed that the best way to differentiate their offerings from their Marvel counterparts was to go full-auteur. That such a tack hasnt fully panned out yet is proof of the enormous pitfalls of making daring decisions with immensely costly properties that have long histories and zealous fanbases.

On the other hand, however, this years two best superhero films do exactly that. Logan(a Marvel hero, but from Twentieth Century Fox) andWonder Woman(a DC heroine, from Warner Bros.) took bold chances with famous characters, to refreshingly novel, winning effect. With the former, director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman threw the playbook out the window by presenting the clawed Wolverine as a post-mutant-apocalypse loner on one last Western-tinged mission; with the latter, filmmaker Patty Jenkins and headliner Gal Gadot reinvigorated tired genre tropes by giving them a feminist twist, all while wholeheartedly embracing the cornball optimism that had so far been absent from DCs god-like movie-verse. Following in the tradition of atypical precursors such as Tim BurtonsBatman, Sam RaimisSpider-Man, Guillermo Del TorosHellboy,and even last yearsDeadpool, they both delivered a potent thrill precisely because they went out on a ledge to give us something we hadnt seen beforeand, just as importantly, to infuse their material with a unique pop-mythology majesty.

Thats, ultimately, whats lacking from the competent, diverting Spider-Man: Homecominga sense of grandeur, of brashness, of peculiarity. Playing it safe is, of course, a precaution against franchise defection, the one thing that (considering the investment required to build and sustain these cinematic monoliths) Hollywood studios fear most. And its a tried-and-true approach that will no doubt reap further riches in the case of Homecoming, which is on track to earn upwards of $100 million this weekend. Still, by relegating its movies to functional puzzle pieces to be incorporated into a larger whole, Marvel has made its every release feel smaller and more mundane than the last. Its the perfection of proficiency, which guarantees that no one will leave the theater furious, but also that no one will leave amazed.

And in the case of Spider-Man, isnt amazing the entire point?

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/spider-man-homecoming-and-the-problem-with-marvels-movie-formula

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After making $3.5 million on Indiegogo, this palm-sized micro drone can be yours

Image: extreme toys

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

While smartphone-based VR is still in the early stages, there are some drones that prove the technology is coming along quicker than we think.

Smart, fast, and able to fit in the palms of your hands, the Micro Drone 3.0 is what weve all been waiting for.

With the power to stream 720p HD video directly to your device, you get a first-person view of the drones flight path as it cruises along at speeds up to 45 mph.

This kit comes with everything you need to fly, including a cardboard headset and inverted blades for belly-up orientation. For more tactile control than a capacitive touch screen, there’s also a 2.4 GHz handset that can extend your flight range up to 500 feet.

The Micro Drone 3.0 is also completely customizable with maneuverability settings that can be tweaked with the Extreme Flyers free phone app plus, its constructed from 3D printable modular components, allowing for some truly unique body shapes.

Usually $215, you can grab the Micro Drone 3.0 Combo Pack from our store for just $145.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/01/micro-drone-with-live-video-feed/

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Pixar writer says that viral ‘Toy Story’ narrative is ‘fake news’

Though everyone loves a clever Pixar theory, one of the production company’s most prominent writers and directors is setting the story straight on a viral interview that claims to explain a major Toy Story mystery.

A wildly depressing story about Andy’s father circulated the internet on Saturday, stemming from a single interview in which a friend of a late Pixar writer shared what he says is the truth about this mysterious plot point.

Though Andy’s father’s absence from the films has long been the subject of fan speculation, this interview claims to offer the true story, recounted by the friend of someone who worked on the film.

Later, Pixar writer and animator Andrew Stanton stepped in to call bull:

“Complete and utter fake news,” Stanton tweeted. “Everyone go back to your homes. Nothing to see here, folks. #Iwasthere”.

A Pixar vet, Stanton served as a writer on Toy Story and its subsequent sequels. Other writing and directing credits include A Bug’s Life, WALL-E, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.

The viral origin story comes courtesy of a YouTube toy reviewer named Mike Mozart who says he became friends with late Pixar writer Joe Ranft years before his death in 2005. In an interview with YouTube channel Super Carlin Brothers shared on June 22, Mozart relayed a conversation he says the pair had regarding the absence of Andy’s father.

The story tells a depressing tale of Andy Sr.’s childhood struggle with polio and the three toys he managed to save Woody, Slinky Dog, and Mr. Potato Head before the rest of his belongings were incinerated.

Years later, moments before his death, he’d call Andy Jr. to him and present him with a key to a trunk in their attic. Andy Sr. tells him to go upstairs and retrieve the trunk, but by the time Andy Jr. returns, his dad has passed away. A few days later, Andy Jr. finally opens his father’s trunk and finds the three toys.

While there are certain details from the film that support Mozart’s story, Stanton’s rebuttal suggests it might be best to label this story a compelling theory until further notice.

But for whatever it’s worth, Mozart stands by his interview:

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/25/toy-story-andy-father-viral-story/

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Seems weird that no one has mentioned Orbeez to me before

Life is a series of crushing disappointments, and this is no exception: I have recently learned that Orbeez, which are tiny, absorbent polymer balls that expand to 100 times their original size when wet, and which YouTube personalities love to purchase by the millions and pour into pools, have existed for years.

And none of you posers thought to tell me!

Check this out. Here’s a guy putting 25 million Orbeez in a swimming pool, where they become large and jelly-like, and jumping in to see if he’ll float. This video has everything I like: yelling, science, and a vague connection to the Salem Witch Trials.

And no one was like, “Hey, cool vid! I’m going to pass this one on to Chloe?” Sheesh.

Here’s some dude in a muscle tank dipping several pool skimmers full of dry Orbeez into a pool, watching the Orbeez expand, putting the expanded Orbeez in a trash can, putting his cute dog in that same trash can and uttering the phrase “dog spa” (my favorite phrase), then dumping those Orbeez one million of them into his girlfriend’s car.

This video was published in September 2016. And no one wanted to copy-paste the link (a maximum of five clicks) and send it to my Gmail or whatever? I’m literally always checking my Gmail, and I have two accounts! Oh my god!

Next, please enjoy a video of the world record for Biggest Orbeez Waterfall. As the video description says, the clip features “MILLIONS of Orbeez dropped by a giant CRANE into a big POOL.”

And you’re telling me that MILLIONS of Orbeez didn’t even convince you to send this to me? Or just mention it in passing? Come on.

And here’s somebody putting Orbeez in a meat grinder. Look at the disgusting goop that comes out. It’s like … I could have watched this in February four calendar months ago.

Christ. I have never had any true friends. Whatever. Have a good weekend.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/18/orbeez-youtube-challenge/

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What do we call people who use fidget spinners?

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Well, friends, the fidget spinner craze keeps on spinning. And as more and more of my pals, enemies, and acquaintances acquire these little gadgets, there’s a big question that I and perhaps only I want to answer.

What’s a good name for someone who uses a fidget spinner?

Okay, hear me out. Someone who yo-yos is called a yo-yoer, right? And, as Chance the Rapper tells us, someone who plays with a hacky sack is called a hacky sacker.

But this formula doesn’t quite work with fidget spinners. A fidget spinner-er? It just doesn’t roll off the tongue the way it should.

So here are some other (very, very serious) ideas.

Fidgeters

Pros: Some people are already using this, I guess?

Cons: Already a word.

Spidgeters

Pros: Not already a word. Does not yield even a single Google result.

Cons: Sounds like a terrifying inhalant.

Spinners squared

Pros: It makes logical sense: people who spin fidget spinners are fidget spinner spinners, right? Spinners squared? Get it?

Cons: Deeply boring.

Spinneroonis

Pros: Turn to your left and say this to the first person you see: “I’m a spinnerooni!” Pretty fun.

Cons: You did not actually do the above, and neither will anyone else.

Masters of Spin

Pros: Could be a middle-of-the-road television show starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

Cons: This is a better name for a Kellyanne Conway-themed cabaret show than someone who uses a fidget spinner.

Fidgetbois

Pros: Always fun to spell “boi” with an I; am I right, boiz?

Cons: Not necessarily inclusive of non-male fidget spinner enthusiasts.

Cool folks

Pros: Fidget spinners are cool and so are the people who use them. This name pretty much says it all!

Cons: This is what they also used to call people who played Pokmon Go. :(

Please get back to me with your favorite. We simply must get this sorted out.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/11/fidget-spinner-person-name/

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Remember when Republicans wanted to investigate the Clintons’ pet cat?

Image: NIGHSWANDER/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Republicans seem a bit investigation-shy these days, don’t they? Well, as you might remember from election season, that wasn’t always the case. During Bill Clinton’s administration, House Republicans even called for an inquiry into Socks, the First Cat.

Socks was a fairly normal cat, and by most accounts, he seemed to be a good and cute boy. Adopted by Chelsea Clinton as a lost kitten, he enjoyed the things that most cats do: catnip (which press photographers used to lure him closer on the White House lawn), skulking around the grounds, and loathing his canine counterpart, Buddy the dog.

So what was Socks’s crime? For Indiana GOP representative Dan Burton, Socks himself wasn’t the issue. The problem was that constituents liked Socks so much, in fact, that they were sending him mail. Of course, since most of the letter writers were children, the White House would respond from Socks.

And Burton wanted to know why taxpayers were fronting Socks’s postage.

A criminal mastermind.

Image: WILFREDO LEE/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Chicago Tribune reported on Burton’s “concern” in 1995. (If you’d like a quick character summary on Burton, he stopped using the House gym after Rep. Barney Frank came out as gay in 1987.)

Here’s an excerpt from the letter he sent to the Clintons:

As a member of the new Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, I would like to inquire what the standard practice is for the White House to respond to mail directed to ‘Socks,’ your cat. How many of these inquiries were responded to over the past two years? Who pays for the postage? If it comes out of the White House mail budget, why are the taxpayers being made to pay for your feline’s fan club?

Seems like a lot!

Burton also suggested that the Clintons follow the precedent of Barbara Bush, who wrote a White House book from the perspective of her dog Millie, then donated proceeds to pay for the cost of Millie’s personal correspondence.

Hillary Clinton did, in fact, compile a book of letters written to Socks and Buddy in 1998. However, proceeds from Dear Socks, Dear Buddy were donated to the National Park Foundation.

In the end, of course, nothing came of Burton’s inquiry. A completely unaware Socks got off scot-free and a lot of delighted kids received taxpayer-funded letters from their favorite cat.

Image: Amazon

Incidentally, an Arizona newspaper study ranked Burton the fifth-biggest user of free Congressional mail in 2007, which many considered to be abusing the privilege.

As far as we know, Socks the cat who was enjoying an idyllic Chesapeake Bay retirement at the time did not inquire into Burton’s $190,000 expenses.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/04/socks-the-cat-gop-investigation/

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The difference between smartphone gimmick and game changer

Its hard to find a legitimately bad flagship phone these days. Sure, one peeks its head out from time to time, but on a whole most phones are pretty good. The screens, the cameras, the internals. There are always a few bits that could use improving (see: battery and durability), but the gulf between good and bad isnt any near where it once was.

And for the past several generations, most flagship devices even more or less look the same. Sure, the fingerprint reader/home button gets moved around here or there, but most casual observers probably couldnt pick a non-iPhone/Galaxy out of a lineup. Perhaps its a matter of copied intellectual property, or maybe there really is an ideal form factor for a pocket-sized communication device thats mostly screen.

Its tough to distinguish yourself when youre not a top-tier smartphone company a qualifier that, in the States at least, seems to apply to pretty much everyone who isnt a Samsung or Apple. Given how cut throat the overcrowded industry can be when youre not in the two top (and, lets be honest, even if you are), its no surprise that the many companies seem to be looking increasingly toward distinguishing factors.

Gimmicks arent bad in and of themselves. After all, once it hits mainstream acceptance, its not really a gimmick anymore. Its a standard feature. Take waterproofing. When a handful of manufacturers started dipping their phones in aquariums at trade shows, it initially seemed like a cry for attention. But we kind of all secretly wantedone. A few years later, its a no-brainer for flagships because its not just about going snorkeling, its about getting caught in a downpour and, yes, accidentally dunking the thing in the toilet.

Sometimes a bag full of dry rice just isnt enough.

The flipside of that is the Alcatels A5 LED. Its the phone equivalent of those L.A. Lights shoes from the 90s, with heels that flashed every time they hitthe ground. Its a hail Mary pass of sorts and a tacit acknowledgement that maybe smartphones arent much more than big, expensive toys.

A good gimmick, on the other hand, is one that actually brings something to the experience of owning a phone. Its a rare moment of thinking outside the box that, if pulled off successfully, can actually be a cause to rethink things. LGs own numbers have stumbled a bit, but thats not for lack of interesting ideas. The company was among the first to introduce a dual-lens camera (the V20) and to offer a taller form-factor (G6), both of which are becoming standard features in flagships.

Of course, those handsets are also great examples of how a good gimmick alone isnt enough to make a phone a success. An even more obvious example comes in the form of the G5. The handset was released at what seemed the height of interest in modular phones. But the result was downright disastrous, with the phone shouldering much of the blame of the companys resulting financial straits. That didnt, however, mean that modularity is doomed to failure. Announced not all that long after the G5, Motorola/Lenovos Moto Z line has been a marked success for the company. Its already announced millions sold an accomplishment for a line many simply wrote off at launch.

The differences between the execution of the phones is pretty stark. For starters, the Z is a solid piece of hardware, an object lesson in that fact that you cant rest on gimmick alone. The magnetic power system is also the best modular execution to date. And then theres the fact that the phone launched with multiple useful mods. Like a game console needs games, a modularity phone without mods is a pretty usefulness proposition.

Of course, singular success for Motorola does not translate to a game changer in this case. Other companies are likely flirting more with the idea of modularity, but its not like several other companies rushed out to launch their own modular solution in the past year.

The jury is still out on the HTC U11. Even more so, really, as the phone hasnt even hit the market. For now, though, Edge Sense seems like little more than a gimmick. The actual functionality it brings to the handset is limited at best. The company has promised more uses for the squeezable sides moving forward, but the ability to launch apps isnt the sort of compelling feature that drives users to buy phones.

Theres nothing wrong with a gimmick, so long as it isnt a gimmick for its own sake. To be successful, it needs to bea meaningful feature that adds usefulfunctionality to a device, executed in a way that doesnt detract from the rest of the phone experience. And its important not to be myopic. Manufacturers cant rest on its laurels and skimp on the rest of the hardware and software.

Otherwise, you might as well be selling light up sneakers.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/28/the-difference-between-smartphone-gimmick-and-game-changer/

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MakeLoveNotPorns Cindy Gallop talks about the future of love

On this weeks Technotopia I interviewed Cindy Gallop, the outspoken TED speaker and found of MakeLoveNotPorn. Cindy worked tirelessly to bring SexTech and FemTech out of the shadows and shes bringing all her attention to bear on the creation of technology that will bring us closer together and make us happier something few founders think about.

Gallop believes that the toys we see that are supposed to represent the cutting edge in SexTech are just the beginning. She is also working hard to educate the world about the difference between lovemaking and porn and how, while both have their place, lovemaking is far more fun and constructive. We teach our children to be good people in the wider world, she says, but why wont we teach them how to be good people in bed?

Gallop is currently raising a fund to help female entrepreneurs and SexTech inventors so listen in to see how you can help.

Technotopia is a podcast about a better future by John Biggs. You can subscribe in Sticher or iTunes and download the MP3 here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/21/makelovenotporns-cindy-gallop-talks-about-the-future-of-love/

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Experts poke holes in marketing claims about fidget spinners


Teachers' worst nightmare.
Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fidget spinners are a fun, relaxing fount of mindless entertainment. But are they really more than a cheap toy?

Some experts say no. Despite marketing claims, there’s no research that shows the wildly popular spinners are therapeutic tools for people with anxiety, autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“I know there’s lots of similar toys … and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University, told NPR on Sunday.

That doesn’t mean the three-pronged plastic phenomena don’t provide any real benefits, or that parents and educators are wrong when they say it helps some children focus in the classroom. But retailers may be stretching the truth when they label these devices as treatments for fidgety behavior, minuscule attention spans, or discomfort in a classroom setting.

You sure about that, Mr. Fidget Spinner Maker?

“It’s important for parents and teachers who work with kids who have ADHD to know that there are very well studied and documented treatments that work, and that they’re out there, so there’s not really quick and easy fixes like buying a toy,” Kollins told NPR.

About 11 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 4 and 17 or 6.4 million kids have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Their parents often search for help beyond the typical medication, which might make them more vulnerable to marketing efforts that falsely lump these toys in the category of evaluated, proven solutions that help students focus and learn.

Another expert had a similarly skeptical view of fidget spinners.

“Using a spinner-like gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with ADHD,” Mark Rapport, a clinical psychologist at the University of Central Florida who has studied the benefits of movement on attention in people with ADHD, told LiveScience earlier this month.

Still, parents and some developmental specialists have defended fidget spinners, even as teachers and schools banned them from the classroom for being too disruptive. Proponents argue that, under the right circumstances, spinners and devices like them can soothe an anxious student or calm a hyperactive mind.

Hmm, maybe not.

“These little gadgets should be called fidget tools, not toys, and they can be part of a successful strategy for managing fidgety behavior if they are introduced as a normal part of the classroom culture,” Claire Heffron, a pediatric occupational therapist in Cleveland, recently told the Washington Post.

A 2015 study found that students with ADHD performed better on a computerized attention test the more intensely they fidgeted. Children without ADHD, meanwhile, did not improve their test score with fidgeting.

But Julie Schweitzer, the study’s author and a clinical psychologist at the University of California at Davis, said it’s too early to know whether fidget spinners could deliver similar results.

“We need to study them to find if they make a difference and for whom,” Schweitzer told the Post.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/14/fidget-spinners-adhd-experts/