RE: Dean Kamen's machine: Segway aka Ginger aka It

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 14:12:59 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Wilkins on the meme:engram relation"

    Received: by id OAA29956 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Mon, 3 Dec 2001 14:17:23 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Subject: RE: Dean Kamen's machine: Segway aka Ginger aka It
    Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2001 14:12:59 -0000 
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    Precedence: bulk

    Speaking as one of the world's laziest people this sounds brilliant. i
    suspect Tony Hawks will find ways to do tricks in it, but like the daleks
    how dos it handle steps I wonder...

    > ----------
    > From: Wade T. Smith
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Monday, December 3, 2001 12:59 pm
    > To: SKEPTIC-L; Memetics Discussion List
    > Subject: Fwd: Dean Kamen's machine: Segway aka Ginger aka It
    > ---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
    > Here "it" is: the inside story of the secret invention that so many
    > are buzzing about. Could this thing really change the world?
    > Sunday, Dec. 02, 2001
    > "Come to me!"
    > On a quiet Sunday morning in Silicon Valley, I am standing atop a
    > machine code-named Ginger--a machine that may be the most eagerly
    > awaited and wildly, if inadvertently, hyped high-tech product since
    > the Apple Macintosh. Fifty feet away, Ginger's diminutive inventor,
    > Dean Kamen, is offering instruction on how to use it, which in this
    > case means waving his hands and barking out orders.
    > "Just lean forward," Kamen commands, so I do, and instantly I start
    > rolling across the concrete right at him.
    > "Now, stop," Kamen says. How? This thing has no brakes. "Just think
    > about stopping." Staring into the middle distance, I conjure an image
    > of a red stop sign--and just like that, Ginger and I come to a halt.
    > "Now think about backing up." Once again, I follow instructions, and
    > soon I glide in reverse to where I started. With a twist of the
    > wrist, I pirouette in place, and no matter which way I lean or how
    > hard, Ginger refuses to let me fall over. What's going on here is all
    > perfectly explicable--the machine is sensing and reacting to subtle
    > shifts in my balance--but for the moment I am slack-jawed, baffled.
    > It was Arthur C. Clarke who famously observed that "any sufficiently
    > advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." By that
    > standard, Ginger is advanced indeed.
    > Since last January it has also been the tech world's
    > most-speculated-about secret. That was when a book proposal about
    > Ginger, a.k.a. "IT," got leaked to the website . Kamen had
    > been working on Ginger for more than a decade, and although the
    > author (with whom the inventor is no longer collaborating) never
    > revealed what Ginger was, his precis included over-the-top
    > assessments from some of Silicon Valley's mightiest kingpins. As big
    > a deal as the PC, said Steve Jobs; maybe bigger than the Internet,
    > said John Doerr, the venture capitalist behind Netscape,
    > and now Ginger.
    > In a heartbeat, hundreds of stories full of fevered theorizing gushed
    > forth in the press. Ginger was a hydrogen-powered hovercraft. Or a
    > magnetic antigravity device. Or, closer to the mark, a souped-up
    > scooter. Even the reprobates at South Park got into the act, spoofing
    > Ginger in a recent episode--the details of which, sadly, are
    > unprintable in a family magazine.
    > This week the guessing game comes to an end as Kamen unveils his baby
    > under its official name: Segway. Given the buildup, some are bound to
    > be disappointed. ("It won't beam you to Mars or turn lead into gold,"
    > shrugs Kamen. "So sue me.") But there is no denying that the Segway
    > is an engineering marvel. Developed at a cost of more than $100
    > million, Kamen's vehicle is a complex bundle of hardware and software
    > that mimics the human body's ability to maintain its balance. Not
    > only does it have no brakes, it also has no engine, no throttle, no
    > gearshift and no steering wheel. And it can carry the average rider
    > for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity.
    > The commercial ambitions of Kamen and his team are as advanced as
    > their technical virtuosity. By stealing a slice of the $300
    > billion-plus transportation industry, Doerr predicts, the Segway Co.
    > will be the fastest outfit in history to reach $1 billion in sales.
    > To get there, the firm has erected a 77,000-sq.-ft. factory a few
    > miles from its Manchester, N.H., headquarters that will be capable of
    > churning out 40,000 Segways a month by the end of next year.
    > Kamen's aspirations are even grander than that. He believes the
    > Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy."
    > He imagines them everywhere: in parks and at Disneyland, on
    > battlefields and factory floors, but especially on downtown sidewalks
    > from Seattle to Shanghai. "Cars are great for going long distances,"
    > Kamen says, "but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use
    > a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb. asses around town."
    > In the future he envisions, cars will be banished from urban centers
    > to make room for millions of "empowered pedestrians"--empowered,
    > naturally, by Kamen's brainchild.
    > Kamen's dream of a Segway-saturated world won't come true overnight.
    > In fact, ordinary folks won't be able to buy the machines for at
    > least a year, when a consumer model is expected to go on sale for
    > about $3,000. For now, the first customers to test the Segway will be
    > deep-pocketed institutions such as the U.S. Postal Service and
    > General Electric, the National Parks Service and
    > capable of shelling out about $8,000 apiece
    > for industrial-strength models. And Kamen's dreamworld won't arrive
    > at all unless he and his team can navigate the array of obstacles
    > that are sure to be thrown up by competitors and ever cautious
    > regulators.
    > For the past three months, Kamen has allowed TIME behind the veil of
    > secrecy as he and his team grappled with the questions that they will
    > confront--about everything from safety and pricing to the challenges
    > of launching a product with the country at war and the economy in
    > recession. Some of their answers were smooth and assured; others less
    > polished. But one thing was clear. As Kamen sees it, all these issues
    > will quickly fade if the question most people ask about the Segway is
    > "How do I get one?"
    > ....
    > ----------------- End Forwarded Message -----------------
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Dec 03 2001 - 14:23:46 GMT