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The Segway, Five Years Later

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the makes-a-guy-a-few-bucks-at-gen-con-every-year dept.

340

abb_road writes "The Segway was introduced with a promise to transform cities; BusinessWeek has an article on what the Segway has accomplished in 5 years, and how 'personal transportation,' and the company, have changed. From the article: 'The first Segway — a clean-running, technologically dumbfounding, fun-as-hell-to-ride device that was pretty much impossible to fall off of — was introduced to so much fanfare five years ago that the public-relations agency that helped engineer it still uses it as a case study in how to create a media frenzy. It may be an even better case study in media backlash. The initial euphoria had hardly worn off before a new consensus emerged: This was all much ado about a $5,000 scooter.'"

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340 comments

Cities redesigned (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044671)

Does anyone have the list of the cities redesigned to accomodate the Segway?

Re:Cities redesigned (4, Informative)

musikit (716987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044691)

Atlanta has a segway tour. it is near the Atlanta Underground.

Re:Cities redesigned (1)

morie (227571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044734)

So does Barcelona, but to say they redesigned the city would be reaching...

Re:Cities redesigned (4, Interesting)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044800)

Paris has a Da Vinci Code Segway tour. It sounded like a great idea but it was absurdly expensive, so I never did it. Hardly a redesigned city, but pretty cool idea nonetheless.

As Does Chicago (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044884)

Saw that group out there last time the family and I were in that area.

Re:As Does Chicago (5, Funny)

ConsumerOfMany (942944) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044977)

These tours are also conveniently known as the "tourists who we will beat up and mug" pre-screening process........

Re:Cities redesigned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044967)

Atlanta has a segway tour

Yes siree, a Segway tour in one of the fattest states in the Union.

Re:Cities redesigned (4, Funny)

Scaba (183684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044717)

Just make up a list and add it to Wikipedia.

Re:Cities redesigned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044724)

I hear the number of cities redesigned to use the Seway tripled in the last few months.

Re:Cities redesigned (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044844)

Segway is the airplane's canoe.

Re:Cities redesigned (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044722)

Yo mama so fat they redesigned *her* so she wouldn't brokez0red teh S3gw@y.
 

Re:Cities redesigned (3, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044732)

Well, I don't know of any- right now, that is. Keeping mind that if you actually had some real
range to the things instead of what they're limited to by current battery technology (In other
words, if a fuel cell or a Stirling Cycle engine could be made as the energy source for the
electronics instead of Li-Ion batteries so that the things have a 50-150 mile range instead of
the 10 or so that they currently do...) then there might be some re-working done because they
ARE quite impressive. As it stands, they do a tour [segcity.com] of
downtown Austin and San Antonio on them and it's supposed to be pretty popular.

Re:Cities redesigned (2, Insightful)

atokata (872432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044953)

..but, think about the logistics of standing upright for 150 miles, at 12.5MPH. By my math, that'd be a twelve hour journey. Hope you're not trying to carry a heavy backpack the whole way.

Re:Cities redesigned (5, Funny)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044866)

Does the banning by San Francisco count?

Re:Cities redesigned (2, Interesting)

the_wesman (106427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044932)

Honestly ... I remember that quote about how cities would be re-designed around the thing - was anyone anywhere actually expecting something like that to happen in 5 years? it may be that cities will be re-designed better to accomodate these wheelie dealies, but certainly not for a long time - first, you've got to have enough of these things on the street to justify it, then the money, not to mention the time

first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women

Re:Cities redesigned (2, Interesting)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044987)

While I agree with you that the 5 year window is a short amount of time to really see changes takes place due to Segway, I think it is enough time that we would have:

a. seen major proliferation of the device
b. seen plans made by cites to accomodate them (if they are not yet implimented)

I will have to say that we certainly have NOT seen (a). I won't say (b) hasn't happened either, because my city hasn't done it, but others might have.

Overall, I think that the comment was a very silly one.

Re:Cities redesigned (1)

AzsxQuii (944798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045009)

I could have really used one for the MTA strike back in Dec'05.

i got buttsecks on a segway (-1, Troll)

Asshat_Nazi_v2.0 (989409) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044673)

too bad i couldn't feel it. silly mini-dong..

The lame hype and hyperbole was worth it (1)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044678)

Just to see GWB face plant off one.
Comedy Gold.

The Segway (4, Interesting)

kmhebert (586931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044686)

When "IT" was first announced, I thought Kamen had come up with a new form of fuel that would replace petroleum and really "change the world". So the scooter was kind of a let-down in comparison. Even so, I would love to have one and I imagine most people would. I just wouldn't want to pay for it!

Re:The Segway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044704)

I thought Kamen had come up with a new form of fuel that would replace petroleum

The way it went over, I suspect he wishes he'd invented a new form of petroleum ... jelly.

Re:The Segway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044835)

When IT was first announced, Kamen also said it would cost less than $3000. Had they actually been able to sell the product in its quoted price range, I do believe it would have been quite popular. Instead you have a product that is more expensive than most other 'scooters' one might consider, without the speed or roadway access they offer.

In reality... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044940)

I think IT's just the start. Kamen's got some designs he's trying to bring to
commercialization that turn the Segway into something like what you're hoping
for. If his designs for a Stirling are as good as he seems to think of them,
you'd use it in the segway to give it much more range- and it would be a device
that'd use different fuels (Hell, you COULD do a thermal atomic pile if you were
sure it'd not get ruptured and get unbelieveable results with that...).

It's got potential- I just think he released the Segway before it was really ready
(i.e. the power plant he's working on for it and other things weren't done...).

Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (5, Funny)

SirStanley (95545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044692)

It's surprisingly not hard to fall off of a segway if you've never been on one before. You have no idea that you can't stand on it before it's been turned on. (I did that fell over caught myself)

In addition. The Turning controls are on one of the handles and if you're drunk and jousting on Segways (Which is REALLY FUN btw.) falling off is pretty easy as well. I leaned to far forward which makes you go very fast I was attempting to charge through a hallway and while going fast I realized that I was quickly drifting towards the wall. I attempted to fix this but twisted to hard on the steering grip and it very quickly spun me in a 360 into the wall.. Which actually hurt pretty good. You don't have to be a president to fall off of one.

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044760)

if you're drunk and jousting on Segways... I was attempting to charge through a hallway
After reading that I was really really hoping you were seriously injured.

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044767)

It's surprisingly not hard to fall off of a segway if you've never been on one before. You have no idea that you can't stand on it before it's been turned on. (I did that fell over caught myself)

George, is that you?

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044816)

You don't have to be a president to fall off of one.

Had I mod points, and was not too lazy to log in, I'd mod you up for that line alone :D

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (5, Funny)

CagedBear (902435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044885)

Olympics 2008:

... and the Irish team remains the one to beat for the the drunken Segway jousting competition.

i heart slashdot (5, Funny)

NoData (9132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044952)

Only here would a caveat about drunken Segway jousting be modded "informative."

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044966)

if you're drunk and jousting on Segways

It all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out - then its entertainment.

Re:Segway Not Impossible to Fall off (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16045063)


if you're drunk and jousting on Segways


all of a sudden, the price tag seems worth it...

Case study? (5, Funny)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044696)

>>it still uses it as a case study in how to create a media frenzy. It may be an even better case study in media backlash.

Well, its looking only half the picture. Best case study would be "How to create media frenzy, completly fail to deliver it, and still remain in business"

Re:Case study? (2, Insightful)

tgeller (10260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044971)

Segway was inarguably a P.R. success. Public Relations doesn't control market acceptance, only market exposure. And they got that, in spades.

Never say never (4, Funny)

gr8whitesavage (942151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044702)

"pretty much impossible to fall off" - unless you are President Bush. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2989000. stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Never say never (2, Funny)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044811)

"pretty much impossible to fall off" - unless you are President Bush.

So what you are trying to say is that President Bush can do the impossible? :p

Re:Never say never (2)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045024)

So what you are trying to say is that President Bush can do the impossible?

Or that GB Jr can fail where his father suceeded (GB Sr managed to avoid falling alongside Jr). How telling. The funniest part in the article referenced in the parent post:

The machine's creator, Dean Kamen, wants to see US Special Forces troops eventually ride Segways into battle.

Just imagining that is all but too funny for words.

Cakewalk (1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044709)

"pretty much impossible to fall off of"

Unless you [google.com] have clay feet [wikipedia.org] .

All praise Google (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044711)

But what if some of the people whose personal info they provided had done nothing at all?
http://malfy.org/ [malfy.org]

Re:All praise Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16045030)

From your link:

"What if the World Trade Center buildings were not brought down by planes or fires, but by explosives?

That is what the physical evidence and video evidence indicate did happen."

Not according to the NIST and ASCE. But because some self-proclaimed expert on the internet said otherwise, I should throw out all other opinions, rights?

Conspiracy theorists like that give the rest of us a bad name.

What they've accomplished: Not Much (2, Insightful)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044713)

If the article is all there is on this subject, then Segway hasn't accomplished much since the scooter was finished. They've thought about a lot of potentially neat things, but they're still just that - thoughts.

Makes me want to run right out and put all my money into just about anything except Segway!

Inspirational words from TFA (0, Troll)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044726)

"Life," Kamen says, "is too short for incrementalism."
That's well up there with the Sermon on the Mount and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream."

Re:Inspirational words from TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044907)

"Life," Kamen says, "is too short for incrementalism."

That's well up there with the Sermon on the Mount and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream."

"Blessed are those who paid three grand for a scooter, for they have kept my company afloat." -Book of Kamen, 27:1

The segway has a perfect market (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044731)

but it's not the one its designer intended. Indeed, on a segway, you look like a total dork and you're dangerous (I was passed by one on the sidewalk, I can attest to this).

But there's one area where segways excel, and that's giving a lot of freedom for disabled people to move around. Each time I hear about a segway story, it's about some handicapped person who finds it marvellous. Like this story [theglobeandmail.com] for example, or this one [nbc4.tv] which are rather typical.

So in short: I reckon segways should be banned on public thoroughfares, and allowed anywhere for disabled people.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044828)

I've seen policemen using them at airports, where they're pretty effective at getting through foot traffic and covering a lot of ground quickly.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (3, Funny)

RCO (597148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045076)

Yeah, I've seen police using them too, and the first thought I had was "Great, now they get absolutely no exercise. The only thing they don't have is a place for their coffee and doughnuts." Granted, I was in a bad mood, so I may have been a little harsh with that thought.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045092)

In both the police and the disabled case, the advantage is that you are positioned a bit higher. For policemen to have more overview, and be more easily found, and for disabled it must make a huge difference from sitting in a wheelchair, looking at people's bums all the time :( Really, in a wheelchair you always have to look up to people, it's nice that it can also be done the other way around. Still not at the same level as all other people, but at least you're in more control.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044830)

Actually the developer of the machine also built wheelchairs on the same technology and worked a lot cooler then the Segway.

I saw a demo of one climbing stairs while remaining perfectly balanced. Hate to think what would happen if the power went out though.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045010)

In reality, he developed the tech for the iBot and tried to make it go a little
further because of the potential. It's got that- it's just wasted because the
Segway's got such limited range because it's using conventional electric storage
technology. As for when the power goes out, what happens with people in power
chairs when the juice gives out? You end up with this heavy-assed chair that's
moderately hard (Heh... How about next to impossible, even AFTER you disengage
the transmissions on the drive motors...) to push (Unless it's one of the models
with traditional wheel chair handles, etc...)- and they can't do stairs, etc.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (2, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044843)

Exactly. Segways have a genuine use for people who spend their lives going back and forth for their work, e.g. warehouse operators. These environments can be appropriately signposted and controlled by health and safety rules.

The same is not true of a pavement. All you expect on a pavement are people using their legs and occasional wheelchair users. Unless there is something wrong with you, you should not be permitted to operate any kind of vehicle including a Segway on the path. Take your chances on the road or walk like everybody else.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16045042)

Unless there is something wrong with you, you should not be permitted to operate any kind of vehicle including a Segway on the path
Damn straight! Now if it were only permissible to take a flame-thrower to those fat-asses on their goddamn electric "scooters", we'd be doing all right.

Re:The segway has a perfect market (3, Informative)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044865)

I took a segway tour this year while on holiday. I had never been on one before. In the 30 minute pre-tour class, the guide explained why G.W. fell off. Basically, he neglected to turn it on to balance mode. Rule # 1 is don't step on until you see the smiley face.

It was fun but I prefer riding a bicycle because you get zero exercise on a segway. It's heartening to hear you describe how it is useful to the disabled. My mother loves to travel to foreign cities where she spends days walking. She is too old to do that so I was thinking that she could rent a segway instead. Do you think that the segway would be useful for the elderly too?

Re:The segway has a perfect market (0, Troll)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045065)

My mother loves to travel to foreign cities where she spends days walking. She is too old to do that so I was thinking that she could rent a segway instead. Do you think that the segway would be useful for the elderly too?

Exercise is good for all people, especially the elderly. People often make the mistake of thinking they're "too old" for walking or doing similar things, and when they quite being active the basically start to deteriorate. Notice that a lot of the really old (90 or older) people never really stopped being active, whereas a lot of people that slouch when they age die in their 60's or even sooner.

Let your mother keep walking as much as she wants to. She'll be with you for a lot longer.

Unfortunately (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045081)

the problem I have with these machines is that some government agencies were providing to people who had fitness handicaps (lardasses) as a health benefit covered because of the ADA.

Was really funny watching Atlanta issue a few of the machines to fat cops, cops who could not walk a beat if they had too. Seemed a few other government agencies began looking at these because of "union" rules interest.

I would not mind the machines for people with genuine handicaps, but I certainly don't want to be forced to buy them with my tax money. There are other alternatives that worked for many years before without the need to spend an exhorbinant amount of money.

The problem with genorisity of this sort is that its all so very easy to sell because its not your money and its a guilt trip if you oppose.

A great invention, but too costly and limited in its current form.

Maddox took care of this 3 years ago. (5, Funny)

Mikachu (972457) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044742)

How to render the Segway obsolete...

BAM! Third wheel. [thebestpag...iverse.net]

Re:Maddox took care of this 3 years ago. (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045055)

I didn't know that all FET's were superfluous and failing ;)

Not suitable for...anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044756)

There was a news story on a local station recently about a Segway owner. Can't ride it on the sidewalk because it's classed as a vehicle. Can't ride it on the road because it's a danger to itself and other road users (given it's relatively slow speed compared to a car).

I believe that we've been here before. Anyone in the UK remember the Sinclair C5? And see how well that one took off.
They're both great concept vehicles, but realistically, no city is likely to spend the time and effort building special lanes for these things.

And God help the passengers in a crash - I imagine that they have the survivability of a fly that's in a collision with a rolled-up newspaper...

Re:Not suitable for...anywhere (1)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044806)

Can't ride it on the sidewalk because it's classed as a vehicle.

Hmm.. that has some interesting implications regarding a previous poster's discussion of falling off of one while trying to joust with it, drunk... Illinois (and probably other states) use "motor vehicle" in their definition of DUI, so that it applies to things like electric carts and such.

I saw some recently (1)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044759)

Five years into the craze that’s sweeping the nation, I finally saw some in real life recently. I was on vacation in Hawai‘i and some tourists had rented a few to roll around the grass in Kapiolani Park.

I though briefly about finding out where to rent them just so I could try one, but we had better things to do so we kept walking. I’m all for putting pedestrians on wheels and accelerating them to three times their natural walking speed, but I prefer getting some exercise [flickr.com] out of the deal. I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

Re:I saw some recently (1)

giuntag (833437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044822)

As of 2006 Italian police is also deploying some of those, eg. to policemen patrolling inside railway stations.
Maybe not a huge success, but they're still in business...

Re:I saw some recently (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044881)

I guess I'm just old-fashioned.

You are old fashioned - at least if you're in the U.S.

It's only crazy liberals and homeless who walk or ride bicycles.

Re:I saw some recently (1)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044903)

I spotted one in the movie, The Sentinel, crusing along a busy sidewalk in Washington DC. Product placement? I can't imaging them being legal for that purpose because of the danger to pendestrians, and they aren't street legal due to speed, no mirror, etc.

Re:I saw some recently (2, Informative)

IDontAgreeWithYou (829067) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045001)

They use them in DC. [citysegwaytours.com] I see them all the time. The people riding them tend to be courteous though. I'd rather see a segway rider on a sidewalk than your typical city skateboard punk.

Remember Wired? (1)

thelost (808451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044775)

I remember the Wired articles, they were 100% pumped. They were so excited their brains were melting out of their ears. They wrote massive articles about IT even though they didn't know what *IT* was. Famous tech figures were crawling out of the cracks to say IT was the most amazing thing ever created, and that our lives would be changed. Needless to say the infection caught me, and I ended up being thoroughly disappointed.

Re:Remember Wired? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044873)

Really? How do you praise something when you don't even know what it is? This reminds me of a memorable Duck Tales episode. The one where this salesman spends most of his own money marketing a product called "PEP" even though, the day before its launch, he hasn't decided what "PEP" is going to be. Do you have links to these articles?

Uses (1)

neil_rickards (563887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044776)

If you've never riden one before you might want to check out http://www.citysegwaytours.com/ [citysegwaytours.com] - they really are a lot of fun.

I really wanted one after riding one round Paris and Budapest, but can't think of a single use where a bike isn't cheaper and better (plus they're not legal on the road or pavement (sidewalk) here in Britain)

AN O THING (-1, Offtopic)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044794)

Just so you know

Segways are great (4, Interesting)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044801)

My GF and I rented Segways on a recent trip to Montreal. It was a blast. We zipped all over the waterfront, testing it on inclines, gravel, etc. It's pretty amazing how steep a surface it can climb. I wished it could go faster, actually.

These things could revolutionize cities, but it's not an overnight proposition because you're battling for real estate on the road with cars. Cities like Montreal, with extensive and sensible bike lanes/routes, make the most sense initially. But if they sold them in NYC, you'd really have to sell models equipped with miniguns to defend yourself against crazy taxi drivers.

In any case, if you get the chance to take one for a spin, do. It's really fun.

Re:Segways are great (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16044840)

YOU ARE A LIAR!

don't you mean you r BF and you rented Segways

Re:Segways are great (3, Funny)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044870)

I'd like to see the segway handle the recoil of a minigun. I imagine that would make the ride more interesting.

-stormin

Re:Segways are great (2, Funny)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044910)

But if they sold them in NYC, you'd really have to sell models equipped with miniguns to defend yourself against crazy taxi drivers.
Sounds like a good plotline for a Carmageddon III: Segways from Hell...

Re:Segways are great (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044931)

...models equipped with miniguns to defend yourself against crazy taxi drivers.
I think you're on to something here!

Re:Segways are great (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045090)

It's gotta be segway paintballing ...

Hype vs. reality (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044803)

A few months ago I finally got the chance to ride a Segway, at the HOPE convention. They had rented a pair and sectioned off a safe area to zoom around in, and it was a load of fun to ride around the hotel's mezzanine while laughing like Pee-Wee Herman.

However, there was also a little bicycle that someone left lying around, and I got the chance to ride around the mezzanine on that for a while, also while laughing like Pee-Wee Herman. That was also a load of fun, one that wouldn't cost me four-figures to duplicate, require me to remain standing, or control my direction with what may be the most unnatural steering mechanism ever.

Both rides gave me a sore throat friom all that Pee-Wee Herman laughing, though.

Re:Hype vs. reality (2, Funny)

Josh Hiles (970528) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044874)

But did the Sedgeway revolutionize your life?

It totally changed mine, since I bought one I have been cured of my cancer, am in the best shape of my life and am dating a super model.

But I just saw a commercial for a little magnetic bracelet that could fix that nagging lower back pain.

Where's my phone?

Re:Hype vs. reality (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044905)

Where's my phone?
Would that be the cell phone with the magical signal-boosting sticker behind the battery?

Dean Karman knows how to play the media (0, Troll)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044831)

I'm not trying to be a troll here, but it seems like whenever Dean's company is about to introduce a new product, they start a PR campaign. Just before the Segway came out is was the "super secret revolutionary invention to change the world". People speculated its was something medical because that was Dean's forte. He did end up productionizing his stable wheels chair technology into a personal walking machine- the Segway. Plus Dean made his round of the TV news magazines and talk shows.

I am not sure if Dean over-hyped the Segway leading to disappointing sales. I hope he continues to invent interesting and useful products. The PR campaigns can remain entertainment.

Re:Dean Karman knows how to play the media (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044964)

I'm not trying to be a troll here, but it seems like whenever Dean's company is about to introduce a new product, they start a PR campaign.

In my opinion that's not bad, it's smart because ...

I am not sure if Dean over-hyped the Segway leading to disappointing sales.

I am sure that most of Segway sales are a result of the hype, not despite it. It's the classic tech adoption curve: you have to sell a new gadget to the early adopters who will buy something because it is new. If you don't insinuate your product into their minds, you have no sales at all. The trick is to keep the ball rolling until the product is seen as practical by a significant fraction of the vast middle ground between geek fetishists and luddites. Products differ of course, but the greatest potential for profit (or social transformation) comes from that vast middle ground of pragmatic adopters.

The Hype! (2, Insightful)

ferrellcat (691126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044832)

Does everyone else remember the hype that swirled before the release of the Segway?

Ginger!

IT!

A device so revolutionary and world-changing, that its codename was "IT"!!!

After seeing it, Jeff Bezos was known to say "You have a product so revolutionary, you'll have no problem selling it."

Bidders paid out over $100,000 EACH for the first three examples of a production Segway.

Well, we all know how it went from there.

I want to thank Dean Kamen for permanently calibrating my expectations when it comes to new world-changing products.

I'm much less excitable about such claims now.

Ultimate Problem: Too Expensive (5, Insightful)

Bigboote66 (166717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044837)

Like the article says, a $5000 scooter. There are electric scooters out there that could also be carried onto a subway car with you, but they're 1/20th the price [google.com] . Sure, they don't have the same range, or cool factor, but who the heck did Kamen think his market was? We're talking about a device to make it easier for people to get from public transportation hubs to their destination endpoints. These aren't the kind of people that have $5000 to waste on a personal transporter. You're talking about 10 years of bus transfers before it pays for itself.

I live about a mile from nearby subway stations, and have been known to be an early adopter - a perfect candidate for a Segway (other than the fact that I'm not sure about it's viability in Boston winter conditions). I told myself that I'd buy one once they got down to about $1500. Well, it's five years later and the price hasn't budged. If they really wanted to change the world, they would have figured out a way to sell them for $1000.

-BbT

Re:Ultimate Problem: Too Expensive (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044975)

Less than 1/50th [yahoo.net] the price. Not insignificantly, 22lbs is light enough to carry if it breaks down. The lightest Segway is 70lbs. When it breaks down (or, more often, shuts down with an Out Of Cheese error), you might as well call a tow-truck.

Re:Ultimate Problem: Too Expensive (1)

Cruise_WD (410599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045033)

Agreed - this is way too expensive for what it does.

If the technology involved requires that level of pricing, then the product is over-engineered. I've never really had much use even for bikes, to be honest. If I'm in a hurry, I drive. If not, I walk - the inbetween state that bikes and the segway inhabit hold little appeal to me. Certainly several thousand for such a device is way overkill.

It's a skateboard with a motor, basically. Like the original article says, it was a great solution in need of a problem. It sounds like the new business guy has his head well out of the clouds. Here's hoping the undoubted intelligence involved in the technology finally gets applied to something constructive.

A few points (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044846)

  • This thing was *so* ludicrously overhyped that there was no way it couldn't be a disappointment. That it turned out to be classic "good advertising kills a bad product" was icing on the cake.
  • Somebody here hit it right on the nose five years ago -- during the dot-com boom there were rich stupid dorks with money to spend on something like this. But not in 2001.
  • Five years later, I've never seen one in person, and I live in one of the two or three most tech-heavy cities in the world. The Segway may well be fun, but it doesn't look at all fun to me in pictures and the company has never bothered to market them intensively enough to show me otherwise.
  • As skeptics pointed out from day one, the Segway has no advantage for commuting or transportation over cheaper, simpler existing devices (feet, bicycles, handicapped scooters) in real-world situations.

I am come Price, destroyer of new worlds. (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044860)

If the Segway was introduced at $500 instead of $5000, it would have changed the world. Technologially, there doesn't seem to be anything about these things that absolutely prevent them being made at a marginal cost of less than $500, given enough unit sales to amortize fixed costs and manufacturing investments over. Which really means if you had an infinite amount of investment money and unlimited time to recoup it in, eventually you would recoup it. Which is not saying much at all. The Apple Newton would have changed the world if it had been introduced at $100 instead of $1000, and there is little reason to think that we could not, today, produce them for less than that.

It seems to me that changing the way people move in and out of cities is a catch-22 phenomenon. No matter how compatible your new idea is with existing modes of transportation (which the Segway, in truth, was not), you need the city to provide infrastructure before it will be widely adopted. And cities won't provide infrastructure until there is widespread adoption. The only way around this is to price the thing at a level where a lot of people will simply say "what the hell" and start using them, creating a problem that cities have to respond to. People are so much better at responding to problems than planning.

Truthfully, cities don't make more than token concessions to bikes, which compared to supporting Segways are much simpler to accomodate. Some cities even don't seem to give a damn about pedestrians. The only way to change this is the same way that automakers killed public transit: be willing to lose a lot of money in order to make not using your product inconvenient for people.

Segway Knock-offs? (2, Interesting)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044875)

I've been waiting for a Segway knockoff to appear so I could actually afford a similar device.

A minor Nit to Pick (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044883)

Ok, shouldn't an article discussing the success (or failure) of a new product mention at least once how many of the darned things have been sold?

"Thousands have sold, but not nearly as many as Segway hoped for." is altogether vague. Is that 1000 a year? Or 400 a year?

After five years I can count on one hand the number of Segways that I've actaully seen. That suggests that they have been much less than smashing sucess.

Re:A minor Nit to Pick (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044963)

Who has $5k to blow on a toy?

If they were $50, there would be many, many more of them out in the streets.

The Only Thing to Come From Segway... (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044896)

...is a great mode of transportation for Gob of "Arrested Development".

9/11 Effect? (2, Insightful)

Schnapple (262314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044897)

The Segway was unveiled in December, 2001, meaning it was a scant three months and change after 9/11. I've always thought that something that hurt the Segway in the marketplace was the fact that here was the USA (where the thing was unveiled, invented, target market, etc.) recovering from its worst attack in history (terrorist or otherwise), the economy is in the shitter, and here's some eccentric genius trying to get everyone excited about a $5,000 scooter.

Perhaps the Segway would have met the same "meh" fate either way but does anyone think that, had 9/11 never happened, the Segway would have met a better response?

I had/have a number of issues with the segway (1, Insightful)

manno (848709) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044909)

1. It's not clean running. just because it's electric does not mean it's "clean" there's a smokestack/nuclear plant/mam somewhere charging its batteries. And it is SIGNIFICANTLY less clean that walking.

2. The biggest issue I have though is why encourage people to get less exercise than they get already? This has bugged me since I read the first over-hyped preview of the Segue. People should be encouraged to walk. Not to drop 5g's so every form of exercise they can possibly get should be removed from their life. My sister used to live in Atlanta and she told me it was the most obese city in the US. They say it's because you need to drive to get anywhere in the city. She put on 15lbs. in a year when she lived there. She moved to NYC and she dropped that 15lbs. and then some. Even with the Atlanta she had a fairly slender frame, after she had lived in NYC for about a year though she was the lightest I've ever seen her.

3. and this one is very big a Segue takes up a lot more space than a person. Mostly because it's shape is static. I used to have a lot of house parties, and the place would get PACKED I'm not a small man in any sense of the word at the time I was playing rugby, lifting and was 6'4" and 240lbs and despite everyone being packed so tight it was a struggle to stretch you nose I could still get from one end of the house to the other. replace pedestrians with Segues, and you'll just end up with segue gridlock.

The thing is doomed to a niche always was always will. It's not a mass market idea.

Re:I had/have a number of issues with the segway (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16045006)

Even with the Atlanta she had a fairly slender frame, after she had lived in NYC for about a year though she was the lightest I've ever seen her.

Can you post pictures of your sister? Thanks in advance!

Last time I recall the Segway on Slashdot... (4, Insightful)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044942)

I made a post that, in order for it to be successful, it must do the following.

1) Be an order of magnitude cheaper

2) Break down into a package small and light enough to carry on public transportation

Otherwise, it's just an expensive glorified electric scooter

I stand by my original accessment...

No biggie (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044949)

It's like a really slow motorcycle or a really expensive electric razor (those two wheeled scooters) that you can't take inside a building. All it really did was make traffic cops more prone to being overweight since they don't have to walk their beat.

Seems to me that anywhere the Segway can go, a person can walk or bike just as easily (or more easily). The people who could actually make use of it, the elderly, probably shouldn't risk riding one as even a multi-talented President can fall off of one.

Never seen one (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044951)

Alas I'm in London so I've never seen one. Do they make a noise? How long do they go for inbetween charges?

Re:Never seen one (1)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045044)

You won't either (a fellow Londoner writes) thanks to saome barmy rules from the Department of Transport. In the UK Segway's are illegal to drive on the roads but they are also illegal on pavements. The only place you can ride one is on private land. Logic, it'll help us in the long run - Bill Hicks.

Acceptance would bring other problems (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16044957)

One of the big problems with portable transportation devices (bikes, pocket motorcycles) is that by their very nature they help thieves get away with the loot all the quicker.

Are you going to have to bring a kryptonite lock to secure your segway every time you go to the grocery store? Is it even designed for that? (having something just as strong as the lock to bolt onto, otherwise locking it would be pointless).

Segways will flourish when patents expire (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045004)

... the cost of these things is impractically high right now. Once competition is allowed to play, we'll see hundreds of knock-offs from other companies at rates that make them practical. By that time, they'll be even better with fuel cells and better batteries.

It's not THAT complicated, after all... (3, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045008)

Someone made a "segway" with the old Lego MindStorms kit :
http://www.teamhassenplug.org/robots/legway/ [teamhassenplug.org]

I can see the Segway being expensive for being an electric scooter, but 5000$USD is way too expensive.

dumbkamman (1)

wheatking (608436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045023)

Segway is the dumbest venture capital backed multi-millions of R&D backed contraption - EVER -- people -- lets see....segway is for those with LEGS and who can stand or walk or use their legs perfectly fine and makes them spend a few thousand dollars to go a little faster and not use their otherwise good-enough legs... DUMB DUMB DUMB. had he invented an affordable wheel chair for those who cannot use or move their legs - now there is something to talk about.

It's just needs a better power source (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045025)

I think I've found one which matches the Segway's promise [wikipedia.org] .

NIMBY! (1)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16045078)

Nothing to see in Toronto - they were banned in late 2005. Not that the people who scream down the sidewalks on motorized carts, or the bicycles that think the sidewalk and intersections are for them and stop lights, stop signs and one way streets and such are only for cars pose any risk, oh no - only the Segway would pose a danger. Right.
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