One of the cleverest offerings Google has brought to internet search is the ability to display results through its own tools that appear separately to its main rankings.
An obvious example of this is that any search for a mathematical sum, such as ‘2+2’, will lead Google to display the answer in its Calculator tool, but there’s much more the search engine can do as it increasingly tries to offer a sophisticated question and answer service.
You can search for something like ‘2 meters in feet and inches’ and be presented with the answer within a handy unit conversion tool. If you’re about to go on holiday and want to know how much your money is worth, Googling ‘$100 in £’ will give you a very quick answer.
These examples have obvious practical and academic purposes, but Google offers some novelty and fun as part of these instant answer services as well. For example, you can find out any actor’s Bacon Number with just one search for ‘(actor’s name) Bacon Number’.
Now, the search engine has jumped on the bandwagon of what looks like the iconic toy of 2017 – the fidget spinner. A search for ‘spinner’ will bring up an online version of the stress-relieving toy that you can spin to your heart’s content. The graphic can move both clockwise and anticlockwise at a range of speeds.
Also being taken for a spin (groan!) by Google is a number wheel. At the top right of the fidget spinner, you will see a toggle to change the spinner from ‘Fidget’ to ‘Number’. Once selected, the number wheel can be changed to include anything from 2 to 20 numbers, and the more you add, the more reminiscent it becomes of the wheel used on popular gameshow ‘Wheel of Fortune’.
The fidget spinner, or at least a similar device to it, has been around for almost 25 years and is designed to aid focus and relieve anxiety, especially among people with conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Perhaps due to a Christmas 2016 tip-off by Forbes and several fidget spinner YouTube videos being uploaded in the month that followed, the rotating toys have become something of a must-have, with Google Trends showing us how much interest they have generated in the last few months.
As we can see, interest has dropped slightly since mid-May, although this new online tool is likely to pick it up again. Perhaps office productivity will drop throughout the world too, as Google finds yet more ingenious ways to divert our attention away from what we should be doing!