Most accidents caused by smartphones are caused by distracted drivers or pedestrians. But a phone that bursts into flames – as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7s have been doing – comes with the scariness of uncertainty, especially when these fires take place in airplane cabins.From the publicly available information, it doesn’t seem that Samsung knows the actual technicalities of the problem, and external experts know even less. This uncertainty could cause consumer confidence to wobble, which makes it vital for the whole industry to identify and fix the problem as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Samsung has warned the debacle could cost the company more than £2 billion over the next six months, on top of the costs of recalling millions of handsets.The sheer scale of the problem could, however, be a unique opportunity to improve battery safety across the industry for the future. If Samsung made its faulty batteries available to researchers, it could effectively crowd-source work into why they went wrong. This would provide much-needed insight into how batteries and their manufacture could be improved.