Categories: Geek Culture

Nanodots Fights Magnet Bans With Bad Taste

Nanodots and Megadots. Photo: Anton Olsen

With the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) threatening a ban or restrictions on magnetic toys, Nanodots is already looking at ways to make their products safer. Nanodots is introducing two features that may help them negotiate the upcoming ruling, regardless of what it might be.

The things that make Nanodots so awesome are also the things that make them enticing and dangerous for young children. It is easy to see why they would be attracted shiny playthings, especially if the child sees older siblings and parents playing with them. It’s the shiny factor that Nanodots has addressed first with a minor change in packaging.

The retail package has always had an emphasis on safety with high-contrast warnings, 14+ age indicators and clear labels warning that the product is not for children. The new change allows the end caps to be assembled into a compact and opaque container. The NANO container retains most of the package’s warnings and can be just a little stubborn for smaller hands to open.

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The next feature, AversiveTech, addresses what happens when a child does get a hold of some dots and tries to swallow them. AversiveTech is a patent pending technology developed by Nano Magnets that puts an extremely bitter coating on their new colored dots.

My son unwittingly volunteered to taste the coating when I asked him to touch them to his tongue. He spent the next 20 minutes spitting and sputtering, even after washing his mouth out with water and eating a bowl of ice cream. They sure are gullible at that age.

To be fair, I’d already taken a taste and while my adult sense of taste wasn’t totally disgusted by the bitterness, it was nowhere near pleasant. I can imagine that the bitter-sensitive taste of a child would find it as disgusting as possible. The flavor reminded me of bitter alkaline plants like the sap of the milkweed or the juice of the burdock. I don’t recommend tasting either, but if you’ve spend enough time clearing weeds in the Midwest you’re likely familiar with the taste.

Time will tell if these features are enough to be accepted under the CPCS’s rulings. Nanodots has shown some initiative by taking both the threat to their business, and the safety of their products seriously. The CPCS has set up a page with information on how to get involved with this ruling. You have until November 19, 2012 to submit comments.

Nano Magnets has had zero safety incidents with their products, but the entire industry, according to the CPCS, has seen 1,700 incidents in the previous three years. I personally think our government should be worried about bigger threats to child safety, but it appears to be a hot topic and it won’t be cooling down soon.

What do you think? Are magnets the next lawn darts?

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