Friday, December 18, 2015

Hoverboard inferno

I'll look beyond the misnomer that is the "hoverboard." I.e., they don't actually hover. But whatever they should be called - and I vote for orthogonal motorized skateboard - there are going to be a lot of disappointed teenagers this Christmas. Or a lot of homes burning down when those battery bombs start bursting in air.

Is the hoverboard a nasty product or what?

Banned in the UK. Banned in New York City. Banned by Amazon. Banned by Walmart. (Imagine that.) Banned from flying - carry-on or checked baggage - on most US carriers. Banned by the US Postal Service. (Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can tay these couriers fro the swift completion of their appointed rounds, but don't ask them to reach into their bag for an exploding hoverboard. And I sure don't want one left on the mail table in our building's vestibule. I'm not worried about the 98 year old guy downstairs, or the 8 year old upstairs, but there are three twenty-something guys sharing digs on the 3rd floor. I know from the mail that I do see coming to them that they all seem to be applying to top tier business schools, but you never know.) And in January, the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas isn't going to let its gadget-geek attendees buzz around the show floor on them.

Forget about unsafe at any speed. These puppies are unsafe at total cessation of all forward movement.

Some folks are arguing that hoverboards should be banned or regulated because kids are falling off of them and breaking their wrists. And some unfortunate kid in London lost his life when he ran into a bus while hoverboarding.

But in this respect, how's a hoverboard that different than a skateboard or bike. Sure, it's not self-propelled or pedal-powered, but tell me there's anyone on the face of the earth (who's not a male between the ages of 12 and 19) who doesn't look at a hoverboard and make an immediate association with the word "risk."

This is, after all, something that you could fall off of. And when you're on something that you could fall off of (whether it's on wheels or standing stock still), there's a danger that you could, indeed, fall off of it.

Toys will be toys and accidents will happen.

Caveat hoverboarder.

So, no, I'm not with those who think that hoverboards should be banned because they're accidents waiting to happen.

I'm one of those in favor of banning the cheapo-deepo ones that were quicky-made in China with zip attention paid to safety. The batteries and cords are faulty, and if you've seen any pictures of a melted down hoverboard on the news, you don't want to be any where near one when it breathes its last. It may be safer than napalm or an IED, but just barely.

The high-end ones are, apparently, safe (i.e., won't burn your house down, not 'safe' as in you won't fall off and end up with a concussion), but some retailers and consumers aren't taking any chances. And some consumers, of course, can't afford the good ones, and are, thus, tempted to buy the junk.

Here's where I have to come down on the side of regulation.

If someone's flooding the market with something that presents a clear and present danger from their very existence - not from the way in which you use them - then they ought to be banned.

In truth, part of me just doesn't want to be bothered by a-holes cruising around the sidewalks of Boston on them. A few years back, we the people managed to get Segways thrown into the streets rather than have conga lines of Segway tourists racing around ogling tourists sites while trying desperately to maintain their balance and/or their dignity. And I wouldn't mind if the sity set a speed limit for motorized scooter users. Some of those folks drive too damned fast, and, in my experience at least, a lot of those too-fasters and obese. If one of them runs into you while they're humming along, they could do some real damage.

But mostly I don't want to see kids and their homes burnt to a crisp because some shoddy manufactured goods made their way to our virtual shelves.

Wait until next year. The prices on the good stuff will come down, and the safety features on the bad stuff will come up.

Meanwhile, don't b tempted by what's on offer on eBay.

Better your kid bursts into tears than bursts into flamesw.

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