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Alibaba’s digital pin as seen near some of the traditional offerings from the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

TOKYO — One of the most beloved Olympic traditions is the collecting and trading of pins emblazoned with Olympic mascots, sponsors and media. This year, Alibaba offered attendees of the Games a modern take with its digital pin.

Why it matters: The NFT craze is one indication of a broad move by the collectibles world to digital. One of the big challenges, though, is creating a physical object that can still be enjoyed.

How it works: Alibaba's digital pin has a small display that shows one's name and a variety of different sport images. A built-in pedometer tracks its owner's steps.

  • The pin required users to download an app to their phone to set it up, as well as frequent use of an included USB-C charger to keep it from becoming a wearable paperweight.
  • Pinholders could become friends by tapping the pins back to back, sharing social media information.
  • Alibaba rewarded those who collected enough friends or took enough steps with prizes, including dolls, notebooks and old-fashioned Olympic pins.

My thought bubble: This was a decent first try for Alibaba, but more work is needed to really have a medal-worthy pin.

  • Needed improvements to win the gold would be longer battery life and more utility once the games have ended. (The device can basically only display one's name and sport logo of choice.)

Go deeper

Updated Aug 8, 2021 - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's players celebrate their victory in their women's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil during the Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images

🥇: U.S. clinches top Olympic gold spot after women's indoor volleyball team win

🏀: U.S. women's basketball scores 7th straight Olympic gold medal

🚴‍♀️: American Jennifer Valente wins final women's cycling gold of Tokyo Games

🤸🏿‍♀️: Biden lauds Biles for mental health "courage," praises Team USA in virtual meeting — Poll: Americans care about Olympians' mental health

🐎: Germany's modern pentathlon coach disqualified from Games for punching horse

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

52 mins ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

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