Think Twice Before Putting Your New Tech Gadget In Your Pocket

Posted: Dec 14 2017, 10:51pm CST | by , in News

Think Twice Before Putting Your New Tech Gadget In Your Pocket
Think Twice Before Putting Your New Tech Gadget In Your Pocket

Samsung Fixed Exploding Batteries But You Should Still Be Cautious

Technology makes it possible for all of us to walk around with a computer in our pocket (or wear one around our wrist). The convenience is great, but it comes with great risk.

All electronic devices that use batteries have the potential to catch fire and/or explode, although there are typically only a few incidents reported each year. With the popularity of lithium-ion batteries, however, that number is rising. That’s because lithium-ion batteries pose more of a risk than standard batteries.

Our tech gadgets aren’t exactly safe

Within the first month of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 launch, 112 fires were reported across the US. The problem was also experienced with Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge phones.

While Samsung denied the danger claiming the incidents were random, the FAA jumped into action and banned all devices bigger than a smartphone from being carried into the cabin.

The Note 7, specifically, “is considered a forbidden hazardous material under the Federal Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-185). This device is completely banned and anyone carrying one will be denied boarding. Putting this device in your checked baggage makes you subject to criminal prosecution.

Several other Samsung devices – a tablet and a Note 2 – have exploded on board in the cabin.

Product recalls are ongoing

Lithium-ion batteries are popular because they charge quickly. However, this fact is what makes them a fire hazard. Not all batteries have the intricate mechanical systems necessary to make rapid charges safe. When batteries are built to save money, for instance using thin separators, they’ll short circuit, overheat, smoke, and sometimes explode.

Samsung isn’t the only company forced to recall products for catching fire from overheating. As of 2017, seven brands of hoverboards (self-balancing scooters) using lithium-ion batteries have been recalled for the same potential.

Think twice before putting your smartphone in your pocket

As of 2016, there were 26 burns and 55 incidents of property damage reported due to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 overheating, including a man in Florida. He says a Note 7 exploded in his Jeep Grand Cherokee; the damage can be seen in this video.

Another man suffered second and third-degree burns to his groin, back, and leg. Daniel Ramirez put his S7 Edge in his pocket, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, it exploded while it was still in his pocket, melting his pants to his leg and requiring him to undergo extensive skin grafts.

Daniel’s experience is a classic example of using a product as it was intended, yet being severely injured due to the product itself being fundamentally unsafe.

Ramirez sued the manufacturer, although Samsung isn’t the only company that can be held liable for injuries.

Every company in the chain of supply can be held accountable for injuries sustained due to dangerous products. According to personal injury legal experts Marks and Harrison, “When a product harms you after being used as intended, the manufacturer and others in the distribution chain should be held accountable. The product may have been defectively designed or manufactured, or the manufacturer may have failed to provide a sufficient warning about side effects and complications associated with the device.”

As a manufacturer, Samsung has a legal obligation to make sure their products are generally safe for use.

Samsung first denied there were any known safety issues, and that the incidents were completely random. However, they’ve finally gone public with answers and it’s about time.

Why all the exploding batteries?

While they were denying responsibility to the public, Samsung was conducting their own investigation into the cause of the exploding batteries with three independent scientific analyses. A team of 700 engineers tested 200,000 devices and 30,000 batteries, and here’s what they discovered:

Their lithium-ion batteries were sourced from two suppliers. The first, Samsung SDI, wrapped the battery in a heat-sealed pouch that didn’t provide enough room between it and the other components. The battery electrodes crimped, weakened the separators, and short-circuited.

The second supplier – Amperex Technology Limited – failed to install insulation tape on some of the cells. They also used cheap, thin separators, which caused short-circuiting.

It’s hard to believe that Samsung didn’t catch these issues before they ended up in consumers’ pockets. However, that indicates it’s up to us, as consumers, to take extra safety precautious when using our devices.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/68" rel="author">Larry Alton</a>
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.




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