Digits: A fidget toy boom, electronic noses, and geofence warrants

Plus: Coin shortages, hot air balloons, and Afghanistan’s mineral deposits.


August 23, 2021

Since 2020, Pop Its have sold 7m units… think about that (Source: WSJ)

1) Pop Its — colorful silicone toys that function like bubble wrap — now resemble the second coming of the fidget spinner, with sales reaching 7m+ units since 2020, up from 700k in 2019.

2) Get a whiff of this: Through 2026, waste management companies will spend $11.8m on smell detection tech; food and beverage companies will spend $10.9m; military and law enforcement will spend $8.1m, up ~100% across all fronts compared to 2020.

3) In 2020, Google received 11.5k+ geofence warrants from law enforcement ordering Google to identify users in a geographic area at a given time. That’s up from 982 in 2018.

4) The coin shortage is back. From January to mid-July, banks deposited 45% fewer coins at Federal Reserve Banks than they did during that period in 2019.

5) Apparently, hot air ballooning was hottest in the ‘70s. Now that lots of OG ballooners are retiring, used balloons are going for $10k-$20k, much lower than the $40k+ price tag for a new balloon.

6) In 2010, the US military, along with geologists, said the ground underneath Afghanistan is full of mineral deposits worth ~$1T. The country also sits on 1 of the largest lithium deposits, critical for battery tech.

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