U.S. officials get tough on hoverboards, seize more than 16,000 counterfeit units

nyc subway hoverboard ban
Ben Larcey/Creative Commons
The U.S. authorities are getting tough on hoverboards, with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency on Wednesday announcing it’d seized a record number of the self-balancing scooters for posing a serious health and safety risk.

Officers in Chicago confiscated 16,000 counterfeit boards worth an estimated $6 million in the raid, though the number is expected to run much higher due to the huge number of shipments still being processed.

The seized devices, many of which reportedly came from China, bear fake trademark logos and also contain batteries that fail to meet U.S. safety standards.

The hoverboard, which despite its name doesn’t really hover at all but instead uses wheels to move, was one of the holiday season’s biggest sellers. However, reports from around the world of sudden fires caused by dodgy lithium-ion batteries inside sub-standard models prompted many concerned retailers to pull the device from sale. Airlines, too, banned the board from flights.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said recently it’d so far received reports of 39 hoverboard fires in 19 states.

An indication of just how serious the situation has become came last week when CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye recommended hoverboard owners to keep a fire extinguisher with their machine at all times.

In its report outlining an ongoing investigation into the blazing boards, the commission said that many of the fires “occurred indoors and could have resulted in serious injuries if not for the quick actions of consumers to extinguish the fire.”

Commenting on the recent raid in Chicago, William Ferrara, CBP’s director of field operations, said, “Not only are these hoverboards a serious safety hazard but they also threaten our economic security by hurting legitimate businesses who invest significant amounts of resources into the development and protection of their brands.”

Reputable makers of the board will be desperately hoping the bad publicity soon fades away as counterfeit devices are gradually removed from the market, though it’s clearly going to take time for cautious consumers to be convinced of the product’s safety.

Emerging Tech

U.S. hops on Boeing ban bandwagon, grounds 737 Max planes until further notice

The U.S. government, led by an executive order from President Donald Trump, has issued instructions that Boeing must ground all 737 Max aircraft operating inside the United States.

Here's what we know about the Dark Souls developer's next game

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from Dark Souls and Bloodborne developer From Software. Here is everything we know about the new game, including its setting and combat changes.

Our Fortnite: Battle Royale building tips and tricks will help you survive

Fortnite: Battle Royale sets itself apart from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds with its building mechanics. From gathering resources, to making cover on the fly, to building towers, here is how to build like a pro.

New fire and burn reports spur expansion of HP’s laptop battery recall

New reports of fire and burn hazards have resulted in the expansion of an existing product recall involving HP laptop batteries. The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission issued its own announcement of the expansion earlier this week.
Emerging Tech

Opportunity’s final image is a haunting panorama of the Martian surface

The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover's legacy lives on. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it's a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA is breaking open samples of Moon rock for the first time. Samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 have been preserved and never before exposed to Earth's atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous image of the Cosmic Bat nebula leaves us starry-eyed

The "Cosmic Bat" nebula has been captured in beautiful detail by the European Southern Observatory. Formally known as NGC 1788, the nebula is two thousand light-years away in a dark corner of the Orion constellation.
Emerging Tech

Super telescope captures supermassive black holes forming billions of years ago

The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii has captured evidence of supermassive black holes forming in the ancient universe. Astronomers discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes from billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.