God of Death (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sun, 14 Jan 2001 05:24:29 -0000
Check out the story at www.foxnews.com
Everyone Wants to Know: What Is 'IT'?
There's been feverish speculation about the newest invention from Kamen, the
National Medal of Technology-winning inventor who created a portable
dialysis machine, a drug-infusion gadget, a stair-climbing wheelchair and
about 100 other thingamajigs.
The buzz over "IT" got so loud it even prompted the distinguished publishing
house of Harvard Business School Press to agree to hand over $250,000
advance for a book on a device whose function they didn't know and that
isn't going to be officially unveiled until 2002.
The device "will sweep over the world and change lives, cities and ways of
thinking," the proposed book's author, Steve Kemper, wrote in his book
proposal. "'IT' will be an alternative to products that are dirty,
expensive, sometimes dangerous and often frustrating, especially for people
in the cities."
The inventor, he went on, would soon be "meeting with city planners,
regulators, legislators, large commercial companies and university
presidents about how cities, companies and campuses can be retro-fitted for
The new contraption, expected to cost about $2,000, has been cooed over by
such technological luminaries as Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos and Apple's Steve
"A product so revolutionary, you'll have no problem selling it," Bezos said.
"The question is, are people to be allowed to use it?"
While some say they're prepared to meet the future head on, others smell a
hoax in the making. Either way, there may be no definitive answer until
Kamen officially unveils "IT" — in 2002.
NEW YORK — "IT" may have been unmasked.
The invention so fantastic that it will supposedly change the way cities are
built, yet so secret that only a handful of people have actually seen "IT,"
is apparently a kind of super-duper, Star Wars-esque scooter.
Patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent Office and World Intellectual
Property Organization by Deka Products reveal a stand-up motorized vehicle
that can be folded up and is impossible to knock over.
The device, designed by noted inventor Dean Kamen, would have a built-in
global positioning system that would allow users to simply punch in a
destination, sit — well, stand — back, and enjoy a smooth, pollution-free
ride. Using gyroscopes, computers and internal sensors, "IT" — also known as
"Ginger" — can negotiate rocks and small obstacles. The power source is
unknown, but speculation has centered on tiny hydrogen cells. The
international patent was granted Dec. 14, the American one on Oct. 26, 1999.
"The present invention pertains to vehicles and methods for transporting
individuals, and more particularly to balancing vehicles and methods for
transporting individuals over ground having a surface that may be
irregular," the patent papers say drily.
Ten pages of the application posted on www.thesmokinggun.com include several
pages of diagrams in which men and women stand aboard odd-looking devices
that resemble skateboards crossed with pogo sticks. One looks like a large
skateboard with a single wheel in the middle; another features a man
precariously balanced on a winged tray with the same single wheel. Others
resemble scooters or futuristic vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers.
Calls to Kamen in Manchester, N.H., went unanswered.
Ok, so maybe this guy created an engine that runs on hydrogen and powers
"scooters" around with GPS. Are we getting closer to my Hyaku Shiki?
(giggles like schoolgirl and jumps repeatedly up and down) Or am I having
delusions of grandeur? You decide.
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