This is "It"?

- wadE

No, I'm not talking about the Stephen King book that was about 4 inches thick, I'm talking about the invention from Dean Kamen. "It" is also known as Ginger, now known as the Segway Human Transporter, was unveiled last december on Good Morning America.

I was lucky enough to be home that day to watch the unveiling of "It". When I saw "It" I was (what's the word I'm looking for...) disappointed. After more than a year of hype surrounding "It", this is what we get? A scooter? A f*cking scooter?

I didn't get caught up in all the hype surrounding "It", but when rumors swirled that "It" might be a Stirling engine; which is basically a cheap clean water-using engine to create electricity, I got interested. But instead of something as fantastic as a clean, cheap, and efficient way to produce electricity, we got a scooter.

Now don't get me wrong. Dean Kamen is quite smart, and has invented several fantastic things. In the mid-1990s, he devised a phone book-sized dialysis machine, when at the time similar devices were as big as dishwashers and required patients to make regular trips to dialysis centers. He also created the Ibot, which is a six-wheeled wheelchair that can climb stairs and negotiate rocky terrain. Now those are fantastic inventions that have truly affected the lives of thousands of people.

But back to "It". A motorized scooter that goes from 12-17 mph. That is going to change society? You're kidding, right? I read today that some postal carriers in Florida are trying "It" out. Sounds like a good idea. These men and women walk from house to house, and using one of these would allow them to do their jobs quicker, and to carry a heavier mailbag! How about having carriers in Minnesota use ice and snow. Let's see how "It" handles that. Actually, what about rain? What are those postal carriers going to do during one of those lovely mid-afternoon rain showers in Florida? The kind of light rain they get that causes streets to flood in 10 minutes. I wonder if "It" is waterproof?

"It" is supposed to change our lives by commuters using "It" instead of their cars. Where will "It" drive? On the streets...far too slow for that. On the sidewalks? That's a Personal Injury lawyers dream! Again...what if it's: windy, cold, rainy, snowy, icy?

Either way, you'll have to wear protective gear (helmet, elbow and knee pads), you'll have to pack some sort of rain-gear, or a parka; why not just learn to rollerblade? Save yourself the thousands of dollars on "It", get a nice set of 'blades for a couple hundred could probably use the exercise!

In looking back at some of the articles written about "It" over the last year I found some great quotes. I think my favorite is from Steve Kemper, the author who is writing a book about "It": Kemper mentions the invention may require work by "city planners, regulators, legislators, large commercial companies, and university presidents about how cities, companies and campuses can be retrofitted for Ginger. New roads, paths, and traffic regulations may be necessary if Ginger were to take off with anywhere near the force some tech luminaries are predicting." Oh, so we just need to get city planners, regulators, legislators, and large commerical companies on the same page and get them all to retrofit cities for "It"? Is that all we need to do? Well what are we waiting for?!?!?! Let's go!

How arrogant and asinine is this guy?

Another great quote comes from Kamen himself: the invention is "unlinke anything that now exists". Let me direct your attention to this article. Best quote in that article comes from from Kazuo Yamafuji: "I made this machine 15 years ago."

So basically, Kamen stole the idea from this Japanese the point where he had to include a reference to him in the patent. Yeah, "It" really is unlinke anything that now exists...ummm, except there is this guy who invented it 15 years ago, and he's got a few things like it sitting in his workshop...but otherwise, there's nothing like it!!!

But I guess Stephen Ambrose has shown the most sincerest form of flattery is to steal someone else's work, and make millions!

Anyway, I think I'll pass on "It" and wait for Detroit to start pumping out fuel-cell powered cars.


- 01/15/2002

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