This week, after over a year of rumors and hype, Dean Kamen's invention, code named "Ginger", but until this week was simply known as "it", was finally announced to the public.
The Sunday night prior to the official release of "it" on Good Morning America on ABC, Dave, president of SL Central, reminded me about its release. He had hoped that it was an alternative fuel. Not that the idea is so far fetched since Kamen has converted motors to use propane instead of gas in the past. But we have alternative fuels in this world that we simply don't use (red tape, industry lobbyists, take your pick) and an alternative fuel wouldn't be something that would show up on a mere morning show (sorry ABC). Besides, the invention was said to be something that brought laughter to some of the biggest CEOs in our country. I'm not sure laughter would be an appropriate action to an alternative fuel... unless the alternate fuel was nitrous oxide
I remember seeing the drawing of a scooter from one of Kamen's patent files and repeating to my self over and over again, "Please don't let this damn thing be that stupid scooter."
It was that stupid scooter.
Call "It" Ginger.... Call it Segway, the "official", or "trade name" for Ginger.
Some will likely still call it "it" in bittersweet sarcasm simply because of all of the hype that had lead up to it and the somewhat, but not completely, disappointing result of all of the said hype and attempts at secrecy.
In January 2000, a leak of Dean Kamen's latest endeavor hit the streets as press scrambled to find out what all of the secrecy was about. It was to be the greatest invention of the century from one of the greatest inventors of the century. This could be big!
It turns out that the reason for the secrecy was because Kamen did not have all of his patents in place and that the simplicity of the device could easily be hijacked and modified to the extent where his patents would not apply. The finished product had to be ready for the public and patented before the world would be allowed to know about it.
It just so happens that The Segway was relatively simple. It seems that a good deal of what makes the iBot (a motorized wheelchair that balances itself with gyroscopes and can climb up stairs) so revolutionary, is what makes the Segway "revolutionary". I'm not going to say that I could go out into the garage and create my own self-balancing scooter that moves on a whim, but perhaps an easy idea to "steal" for those in the industry of electric motors and mobility devices. It seems to be one of those "why didn't I think of that" type of products. A disappointment? For some, yes. For others, not quite.
I really should retract my previous statement that the scooter is "stupid", but the press had this thing hyped to the point where I expected my entire world to change from the moment I left the house that morning. I'm a bit bitter. I like a gizmo as much as the next guy (have you seen my network topology?). On my last trip to Wal-Mart I was actually zipping down the aisles on an electric Razor-type scooter, as my wife was looking for ear rings, knocking down lobotomized smock wearing workers* left and right.
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