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Google search results for “laser toy”
(Note: this page provides some additional supporting evidence and discussion for the page “Are laser toys an actual hazard?”)
A Google search for “laser toy” was conducted December 22 2013. The user logged off of Google before performing the search, so that previous searches or emails while logged into Google would not affect the results.
More than 50 search results were examined. From these, the first 50 links to products or devices were looked at, to see what the “laser toy” was.
LASER PET TOYS
38 of the 50 products were for laser toys marketed for pets. There were two main kinds: (1) Special-purpose laser devices designed for pets, such as a mirror that moves the laser in irregular patterns on the floor and (2) general-purpose laser pointers, primarily the “bullet” type, marketed as pet toys.
All of the claims of “pet toy” seemed legitimate. For example, the devices were sold through pet websites, rather than being sold through tech gadget sites or children’s toy sites. None of the pet toys seemed to be high-powered (above the U.S. limit of 5 mW for a laser pointer).
TOYS CALLED “LASER” BUT WITH LED LIGHTS
3 toy guns were described as “laser” although they used visible or infrared LEDs as the “laser” light source
2 Laser Peg toys. These Lego-like bricks have LEDs embedded inside that glow.
1 “laser” tripwire spy toy uses LEDs as the light source
1 “laser” finger ring toy, where LEDs emit a broad beam
FOUR TOYS WITH NO LASER OR LED LIGHT
1 gag laser pointer that shocks the holder when the button is pressed (no laser is emitted)
1 smartphone app to add laser-like effects to photos
2 other non-laser “laser” toys
TOYS WITH ACTUAL LASERS
For actual laser-containing toys, there were three results out of the 50 products examined:
2 listings for “The Laser Game Khet 2.0”, a chess-like game that uses pieces with mirrors to direct two low-powered Class 2 (max. power 1 milliwatt) red laser beams around a board. The game appears to meet FDA requirements. It was a 2010 Toy of the Year finalist, is a Mensa Select Excellence winner, and was featured in Popular Science’s Best of 2011 Toy Fair.
1 listing for a spinning top (“laser dreidel”) that emits two red laser beams on the floor when spinning. LaserPointerSafety.com purchased one of these in December 2013. It appears to be a safe toy because the laser does not emit unless the top is spinning quickly. Even if spun on a mirror surface, the laser would not remain stationary in the eye (because the top is spinning, thus quickly moving the laser beam).Twisting or hitting the dreidel caused, at worst, a very momentary flash of a moving beam. It is hard to imagine how a child might be harmed by the dreidel’s laser. Unfortunately, the laser dreidel does not appear to be properly labeled or certified, and thus it would be non-compliant with FDA laser labeling regulations. In that sense it is illegal, but it is not unsafe or an eye hazard to children.
NON-TOY DEVICE WITH ACTUAL LASERS
1 listing for the Flo Rida “Beamz” DJ musical instrument. It has four red laser beams between two pillars. By putting your hand in the beam path, you can create and shape music. Although it turned up in the Google search for “laser toy,” it is NOT sold as a “toy”; the word “toy” does not appear on the Beamz website [but see update below]. The Beamz device appears to meet FDA standards. LaserPointerSafety.com wrote to the company on Dec. 22 2013, asking for more information about the device’s safety and FDA certification. As of Jan. 7 2014 we have not received a reply.
UPDATE - November 6 2015: A search of the Beamz Product FAQ webpage includes the question “Are the laser beams safe?” The answer given is “Yes. The Beamz controller uses red class 2 laser beams, which are not harmful to your eyes or to touch. Just like any other products that use low level laser beams, it is never recommended to look directly and/or to stare into a laser beam source.” Also, there is now a page which specifically markets to “kids” plus one that markets to teens. Here are representative photos from the teen and kid pages:
Note the visible laser beams on the child’s fingers. It appears that the child’s head could easily fit between the middle and end posts, thus potentially having access to Class 2 laser light in the eyes, unless there is some other safety system to prevent this. (Note that Class 2 light should not be harmful assuming an exposure less than 0.25 seconds due to the natural aversion response of blinking or moving the eye out of the beam.)
Via other searches, we found two additional laser-like toys. One is possibly hazardous; the other is safe.
The Glow Crazy Distance Doodler is a pen which uses violet light to write onto phosphorescent paper, at a distance of “up to 15 feet”. There is a fat light beam from an LED, and a thin light beam which looks like a laser. The instruction booklet says this is an LED light, but it would be hard to collimate an LED over 15 feet. So our suspicion is that it does use a laser.
If so the Glow Crazy Distance Doodler would be, in our view, unsafe for children. The measured power of the beam is 150 microwatts. The IEC Class 1 AEL for 100 seconds is 39 microwatts so this device seems to be 385% over the IEC limit.
On Dec. 16 2013 we wrote to FDA asking if they were aware of this toy, whether it contains a laser, and whether it violates FDA laser reporting requirements or is a safety hazard. As of Jan. 7 2014 we have not yet had a reply.
The other laser-like toy is the Laser Maze by Thinkfun. It is from the inventor of Khet 2.0. Unlike Khet, a two-player game, the Laser Maze is for one player. Other than that, the laser techniques appear functionally identical to Khet. The product webpage has a yellow Class 2 “Caution” label and states “This product complies with 21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11.”