What is a Fiber-Optic Wand?

Jeremy Laukkonen

A fiber-optic wand is a toy that is typically composed of a flashlight and several light transmitting filaments. Through the principles of fiber-optics, the light from the flashlight can be transmitted to the ends of the filaments. Depending on the construction and design, a fiber-optic wand may be single color, multicolor, or even color changing. The filaments are typically flexible and may be quite numerous, allowing the user to create a variety of visual effects in a dark environment. One purpose of a fiber-optic wand may be for safety conscious parents to replace more dangerous toys, such as sparklers.

A fiber-optic wand may be a good substitute for sparklers, a handheld firework that can be dangerous for children.
A fiber-optic wand may be a good substitute for sparklers, a handheld firework that can be dangerous for children.

Most applications of fiber-optics tend to be in telecommunications and other industries, though fiber-optic toys are fairly common as well. Many toys use fiber-optics to light up various components rather than data transmission use, as is often seen in industrial contexts. Fiber-optic wands are a very simple use of the technology because light is not being transmitted to anything other than the end of the filament material.

Choosing a fiber-optic wand is a process that can usually be simplified by determining what the wand is going to be for. Fiber-optic wands are sometimes used as children's party favors, in which case an inexpensive type of wand that runs on a single battery and only operates in one color will often be a good choice. Sometimes, fiber-optic wands are also available with superficial visual embellishments, such as stars or hearts, that the light filaments extend from. Wands like these might be well suited to themed children's parties.

More complicated fiber-optic wands may also be acquired for other purposes. Some fiber-optics wands can change the colors that they display, or flash off and on. Other fiber-optic wands can serve multiple purposes, such as small ones that are incorporated into key chains and others that can be detached from the filament portion to function as normal flashlights.

One common use of fiber-optic wands is as a safe replacement for more dangerous toys. Sparklers are a handheld firework that are often used during celebrations, such as Independence Day in the US or Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom. While sparklers can create a pleasant visual effect that is attractive to children, they also tend to burn at extremely high temperatures. A fiber-optic wand can create a similar effect,but are safer for a young child to handle. It may still be necessary to monitor small children or to choose a fiber-optics wand that cannot be broken down into pieces that could present choking hazards.

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