Thousands of hoverboards impounded by UK authorities over fire risk

Ben Larcey/Creative Commons
Self-balancing scooters, more popularly known as hoverboards, are undoubtedly the hot ticket item on many Christmas wishlists this year.

However, UK shoppers hoping to get their hands on one of the personal transporters may be left disappointed after it was revealed Wednesday the authorities have impounded almost 90 percent of the 17,000 boards shipped to the country in the last six weeks over fears they could burst into flames.

The hoverboard, which for most people means the more common two-wheeled type rather than the futuristic wow-look-it-really-is-hovering variety, has become hugely popular in recent months, thanks in part to celebrities showing off their own ones in videos posted online.

Commenting on the safety issue, Lord Toby Harris, chair of the UK’s National Trading Standards (NTS), told the Guardian: “Our teams at sea ports, postal hubs and airports have seen a significant spike in the number of unsafe hoverboards arriving at national entry points in recent weeks and are working around the clock to prevent dangerous items from entering the supply chain.”

NTS found fault with 15,000 hoverboards out of the 17,000 units that it’s checked in recent weeks, with most of the issues reportedly centering on the hoverboard’s plug, cabling, charger, or battery. There’ve been reports of several fire-related incidents recently after the battery or charger’s cutoff function failed, causing it to overheat.

Just last weekend a leading UK retailer recalled its “Air Runner” hoverboards after discovering that its mains plug and charger failed to comply with British standards, while beyond the UK this board made international headlines on Tuesday after catching fire. Another is suspected to have caused a house fire in Louisiana after apparently exploding.

If Brits can get over the thought of their feet getting roasted or their home burning down, and can actually find a hoverboard in the stores or online, they’ll soon discover they’re pretty restricted as to where they can use it. Long-standing laws ban the machines from being ridden on streets and sidewalks – or in any public spaces, for that matter – meaning most rides will have to be taken around the dining table or in the yard.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.

Data breach compromises 773 million records, 21 million passwords

A security researcher was alerted to a collection of breached data that included more than 773 million compromised records. After digging deeper, the breach was revealed to contain more than 21 million passwords.

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.