1,400 ‘hoverboards’ stopped from entering Dublin Port

26 Nov 2015

As unbelievable as it sounds, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has announced it has stopped 1,400 ‘hoverboards’ from being shipped through Dublin Port as they have been deemed unsafe.

The ‘hoverboards’ in question, however, are not the ones we saw and loved in Back to the Future, but the Smart Balance Wheels that you may have seen zipping around cities that are electrically powered and guided by the driver’s balance.

While incredibly popular and seen as one of the latest must-have toys – or life-saving commuting tools depending on who you’re asking – these boards have been under considerable scrutiny in Ireland, with the Commission referencing “a number of serious safety concerns”.

The Commission’s ruling came following reports across Europe last October that said these hoverboards were unsafe, and so they are now heading back to their unidentified country of origin.

Smart Balance Wheel box

This anti-hoverboard campaign is being expanded to domestic Irish retailers, who will be told that they’re a no-go and that selling them would be against State regulations.

Interestingly, the Commission’s chairperson, Isolde Groggin, did not reference the safety of the concept of the device, but rather that the hoverboards were potential fire hazards from overheating that could be caused during charging.

“Our investigation is ongoing but at this point we are aware that similar products are on sale here and we are investigating to determine whether these products meet the relevant Irish and EU safety standards,” Gorggin said.

The legality of the self-balacing scooter – as it should really be called – is still very restrictive as, according to the Gardaí, it follows the same restrictions as a motor vehicle, with it not being allowed on Irish roads or footpaths, and even in public places you must have a driver’s licence and insurance to use it.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic