What is the hottest-selling tech gadget this holiday season? Hoverboards. On Black Friday, deal-seekers bought more than 5,000 of these ultracool self-balancing scooters on eBay. The online marketplace claims they are now selling one every 12 seconds.
Yet there is mounting concern over the safety of this latest craze, as dozens of injuries, some serious, have resulted from crashes and falls. Currently, there is no requirement that safety equipment be worn when riding a hoverboard, but it is highly suggested that users wear a helmet, wrist guards and kneepads.
Just recently, two hoverboards — a HoverBoost HoverBoard and one from a company called Fit Turbo — both powered by lithium-ion batteries, erupted in flames. While it is not clear if the batteries are to blame, experts are urging parents to read the directions carefully when charging hoverboards.
Selling between $270 and $2,000, the boards were pioneered in 2013 by a Chinese manufacturer called Hangzhou Chic Intelligent Technology (later shortened to Chic Robotics), simply as a two-wheeled scooter balanced on a gyroscope. Shortly after, a number of other Chinese companies began making them, white-labeling them as "hoverboards." American manufacturers — such as IO Hawk, Zero G and WONFAST — soon piled on.