Manyepic butharmless lightsaber duels are likely to be fought at this week's StarWarsconvention in Florida. There is, however, a truly dangerouslightsaber-likedevice out there that has caused a disturbance in the Force.
Itis the flesh-and retina-roasting S3Arctic Spyder III laser pointer made by Wicked Lasers. Thedevice bears morethan a passing resemblance to the iconic weapon in George Lucas' "StarWars" movies.
InJune, shortlyafter the Arctic became available, Lucasfilm sent Wicked Lasers acease-and-desist order. [Graphic:Light Sabers in Fact and Fiction]
Butby late July,any further threat of legal action had been dropped, after WickedLasers pulledoff a bit of a Jedi mind trick on Lucas' company.
WickedLasersblamed the media for hyping up the lightsaber likeness and statedpublicly thatthe resemblance was not intentional. The Hong Kong-based manufacturerofportable lasers also made clear it has zero connection to the StarWars franchise, which will be the focus of the StarWars Celebration V convention in Orlando, Fla., from ThursdaythoughSunday.
Lucasfilm,satisfied, called off the stormtroopers, but reiterated that the Arcticis a"highly dangerous product," according to CNN, which obtained thecompany's letter.
WhenWicked Lasersintroduced the Arctic, it did so with bombast, calling the product "themost dangerous laser ever created" with "the most burningcapabilities of any portable laser in existence."
Thelaser pointerended up being a big hit, aided in large part by the heavy blogcoverage aboutLucasfilm's wrath and the comparisons of the Spyder III to the mythicalweaponry from a galaxy far, far away.
WickedLasers chiefexecutive Steve Liu told CNN that since the controversy began, laserpointersales have tripled. His company has had to expand into a bigger factoryandbeef up its customer support team to handle demand.
Ina move that theStar Wars prequels' Trade Federation might admire, the gadget's pricehasjumped to $299 from an original retail price of $199. Liu chalked upthe pricejump to "increased operating costs."
Inresponse tooutcries about the risk posed by the Arctic, Wicked Lasers has added asafetylock meant to prevent the device from turning on accidentally.Furthermore, thedefault power setting is now only 20 percent of the 1-watt beam's fullcapacity, according to CNN.
Thesafety gogglesthat initially came with the product, and the mandate that customersfill out ahazard-acknowledgement form, remain in effect as well.
WickedLasers toldCNN that although researchers and industrial clients are behind thelaserpointer's brisk sales, "hobbyists" also have begun flocking to it.
Thatmight wellmean some amateur Jedi (or Sith) ends up toting the Arctic to the StarWarsCelebration V convention.
Hopefully,theknowledge that it can set skin afire and permanently damage eyeballswillovercome any urges to wildly wield the Arctic, whether inspired by thedarkside ? or the dumb side ? of the Force.
- Graphic:Light Sabers in Fact and Fiction
- WickedLasers 'Lightsaber' Can Burn Eyes and Skin
- How'Star Wars' Changed the World
Thisarticle was provided by TechNewsDaily,a sister site ofSPACE.com.
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Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at www.adamhadhazy.com.