Since our last blog post on lithium-ion batteries, there has been a report that a self-balancing scooter, known as a hoverboard, is the suspected cause for a March 10, 2017, fatal fire that occurred in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The fire resulted in the death of a three-year-old girl. Fire origin and cause experts are still investigating, but statements from persons who escaped the home indicate that a charging hoverboard “exploded” and caused the fire.
They are everywhere: in your pocket, in your car, in your hands, in your lap and even “in your face.” Lithium-ion batteries are in nearly every product that has become a staple of modern life, such as smartphones, tablets/notebook computers, digital cameras and headphones. They are in our transportation systems – trains, planes and automobiles. They are involved in our hobbies and recreation, including radio-controlled vehicles, hoverboards and e-bikes. They also show up in some of our vices, such as vaping and smoking e-cigarettes. Though we typically view the batteries and the products they power as innocuous, if something goes wrong it can go catastrophically wrong.
When the failure of a smart product leads to a fire, the challenge of how smart home applications should be evaluated and examined as a potential cause becomes a more complex undertaking than the failure of a similar but dumb product.
Continue Reading The Impact of the Smart Home Revolution on Product Liability and Fire Cause Determinations
Not surprisingly, following on the heels of various accounts and reports of fires caused by hoverboards, ten manufacturers, distributors and retailers have issued an official recall of 501,000 hoverboards in the United States coordinated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The recall impacts nearly all of the major brands of hoverboards currently sold on the market, and some online retailers are recalling the hoverboards sold on their websites, which amount to approximately 5,000 units. Continue Reading U.S. CPSC Oversees Recall of Hoverboards Citing Risks Associated with Lithium-ion Battery Packs
Mobile apps (apps) are software applications designed to work on smart phones or tablets. The consumer’s first introduction to apps were the “native apps” that increased the user’s productivity or provided general information retrieval from the internet. Those native apps were features such as a web browser, email, calendar or stock ticker that typically come pre-bundled in the device. Shortly after the introduction of the smart phone, software designers started building apps that could be downloaded to mobile devices that provided the user with more capability than the pre-bundled native apps offered by the manufacturer of the device. Continue Reading Pokémon GO: An Indicator of Product Liability in the App Economy