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Toys

Segway HT Starts Selling 621

Ninja Master Gara writes "The much-hyped "IT", Dean Kamen's Segway Human Transporter, started selling Monday with a no-refund deposit of $495 on the $4,950 people mover for deliveries starting March 2003 on first come first serve basis. "The Segway Human Transporter is one of the most famous and anticipated product introductions of all time," Jeff Bezos, chief executive and founder of Amazon.com, said in heralding the availability of the vehicles on the online retailer's site." It's also the most overhyped and overpriced toy ever, and I'm kicking myself for posting it since that just contributes to the problem.
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Segway HT Starts Selling

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  • by Dr Thrustgood ( 625498 ) <ThrustGood@spamoff.atari.co.uk> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:59AM (#4705262)
    I live in London, England, joyously enough.

    1) No room to drive any longer - cars are everywhere.
    2) No room to stand on the tube (subway) - people are everywhere.
    3) No room to stand on the mainline (overground) trains - people are everywhere.
    4) Segway is still useless.

    Looks like we'd better start bringing out the guns...
    • I wouldn't worry. We won't see it for years.

      Although I did see them demoed at the Farnborough Air Show. Some promo for BAE who apparently made the gyros.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:14AM (#4705372)
      You know, I lived Tokyo before and now live near London. I am tired of Londoners complaining that the tube is too crowded. Send them off to tokyo for a week and they'll shut up.

      Now, if they would only complete the damn work between King's Cross and Edgeware Road in a reasonable amount of time...

      • by OrangeSpyderMan ( 589635 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:16AM (#4705386)
        I don't understand how proving there are places more crowded than London proves London isn't crowded. It is crowded, and the fact that Tokyo is even more so changes nothing. Just because there are dicks bigger than mine it doesn't mean I don't have a big dick. :-)
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:23AM (#4705427)
          I don't understand how proving there are places more crowded than London proves London isn't crowded. It is crowded, and the fact that Tokyo is even more so changes nothing. Just because there are dicks bigger than mine it doesn't mean I don't have a big dick.

          Just because there are bigger dicks out there doesn't mean you aren't a big dick.
      • Re:Let me see... (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yeah, but how much would I have to pay to travel in Tokyo? For the few miles I travel each day I have to pay £20/week.

        Actually, thinking about it, this Segway jobbie would only cost me, hrm, four year's public transport money. It *must* be value for money...
    • Re:Let me see... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hawaiian Lion ( 411949 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @11:37AM (#4706570)
      I think the key point that just about everyone I've seen posting so far is missing is this.

      The Segway was not developed primarily for the consumer.

      If you look through their website, they have already implemented the Segway mostly in industrial and commercial applications.

      They're only starting to sell the Segway to consumers now because this is the second phase of the project.

      Although the applications of the Segway in some communities as a personal mobility device may be limited, I doubt that we will fail to see it successfully implemented in various divisions of labor.

      AA
  • by pdboddy ( 620164 ) <pdboddy.gmail@com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:59AM (#4705265) Homepage Journal
    I'll go out and watch yet another way motorists can take you out...
    • How the heck is this off topic?

      Motorists already give cyclists a hell of a time, and I know I can pedal my mountain bike around faster than a Segway can go.

      Do people seriously think these things will be safe, whether they are on the road or the sidewalk?

      Yeesh, what's wrong with putting one foot in front of the other and walking?

  • C5 (Score:2, Funny)

    Let's see how much better it sells than the C5...
  • I agree completely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TamMan2000 ( 578899 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:00AM (#4705275) Journal
    It's also the most overhyped and overpriced toy ever, and I'm kicking myself for posting it since that just contributes to the problem.

    Why did you post it then?

    Really though, if you want to get around in areas that a car is not practical, use a bicycle, or walk, and get some exercise while you're at it...
    • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )

      Why did you post it then?

      Two words: Paid advertising.
  • by solostring ( 620535 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:01AM (#4705278) Homepage
    .... I WANT ONE! :)

    It will be interesting to see how popular this will become over the next few years (and subsequent price drops). Remember when push-scooters first started to become fashionable? People looked on at the owners, and thought "What a ridiculous concept".... Switch to today, and there are many businessmen using this mode of transport to get around the city (at least in Paris).

    Do you think that the same will happen to the Segway?.... Time will tell....
    • Remember when push-scooters first started to become fashionable?

      I first saw one in Vienna, and thought it was really neat. Almost bought one to take home with me. Glad I didn't, because once every kid on the block had one they moved from 'really neat' to 'really sad'. In the same way, this electric beer keg thing is only going to remain desirable as long as no-one actually buys one. And maybe not that long.

    • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:32AM (#4705474) Homepage
      Paris has always been good for Bikes, Bladers, Scooters et al. The wide pavements, the properly enforced cycle lanes.

      Lots of people Bike/Blade/Scoot to work in Paris because you can and lets face it Paris is a nice place to see as you go. The Scooters allow the suits to zip around with less hassle than blades, but many people still use blades. And while you look a little silly on a Scooter you are still part of some form of sub-culture, and they are not hanging around.

      The Segway makes you look like a muppet. Parisiens will forgive many things, but not looking cool or stylish isn't one of them. This is a city with Policemen trained by the Olympic skating team to be bladers.

      I await to be corrected but somehow I can't imagine 2,000 Segway owners meeting at Bastille on a Sunday afternoon for a great high speed crack around the city. Exercise is cool in Paris, being Fat is very uncool.

      Vive la differance and all that, but Segway will be as popular as American tourists in Paris.
    • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:37AM (#4705506)
      While the Segway sounds like a great idea, I'll wait for the following improvements:

      1. The weight of the unit has to come down. The current 65 pound weight is a bit much to carry up and down staircases.

      2. The unit should be collapsible, so you it makes it much easier to carry on and off means of public transport (trains, trolleys, buses and ferries).

      3. The cost has to be much lower than now.

      I really hope a company like Dahon (famous for its folding bicycles) will work with Kamen and develop something akin to a Segway that weighs no more than 25-27 pounds, folds and/or collapses to a manageable size, and costs no more than US$2,000 to start and then lower the cost as technology improves.
  • by Uma Thurman ( 623807 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:01AM (#4705279) Homepage Journal
    I was disappointed that it wasn't a unicycle. Imagine a seat on a wheel that moves and swivels to keep directly underneath you. Sort of like a magic one legged stool.

    And I was also disappointed that it didn't go faster. If it can balance, why not make it go 50 miles an hour?
  • Trouble... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:01AM (#4705283) Homepage Journal

    If you've ever been to Italy and seen the way they handle their Vespas, and where they try to drive them knows that "Seven mostly rural states have no prohibitions on the use of powered vehicles on sidewalks." could mean trouble.

    Except from that, I think that it is nice to see that this actually became a product (or looks close to becoming). I doubted it earlier.

  • How long? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BrK ( 39585 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:02AM (#4705286) Homepage
    How long will it be until we see urban kiddies with mis-matched kustom wheels and unpainted ground effects on these things? (oh yeah, and don't forget the obligatory NOS and MOMO stickers)

    At least you won't hear any annoying exhaust systems that sound like a beehive in blender with these, due to the electric drivetrain.
  • eh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    5 Grand? Buy a car.
    • Re:eh? (Score:2, Informative)

      by vofka ( 572268 )
      Some people cannot legally drive a car for various reasons (usually medical - I'm not talking about having had your licence revoked!), either that or they have absolutely no desire to drive a car.

      Some of those who cannot drive a car are not capable of riding a bicycle either, for example because they do not have a sufficient sense of balance.

      For these people, the Segway could be a viable alternative for "Faster than Foot" transportation - if only it were a little cheaper!
  • $4950!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:03AM (#4705297) Journal
    I remember, many years ago, there was a similar device. It promised to revolutionise transport in ourt crowded infrastructure. It cost about £400 ($800 or so at the time), could be driven by anyone, was efficient, and affordable.

    It was called the Sinclair C5 and it was a complete failure.

    The Segway is almost the same, except it has a price tag high large enough to buy a cheap used car, and looks even more stupid.
    • Re:$4950!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by biglig2 ( 89374 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:13AM (#4705361) Homepage Journal
      Well, the C5 was touted as a car/bicycle replacement, which it failed as because it is so low to the ground that driving it in traffic was terrifying. The segway is a walking replacement, and so has a better chance.

      Anyhow, there has to be an early adopter on all nifty technology.
      • It also had, IIRC, for no apparent reason, the handlebars underneath the "driver's" knees. I never did get that bit...
      • Yes they are really over priced.
        Did provide a good laugh when on CNN headline news they could not run all over the set because they had problem getting over the cords.
        If I really wanted to make easy walking I would go with a Solex http://www.cybernex.net.au/clubs/cccv/reports/sole x.html Cheaper, more distance, faster, and if you want or run out of power you can still use the pedals of the bicycle.
      • Re:$4950!? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shalda ( 560388 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:16AM (#4705795) Homepage Journal
        For the money, I'd rather have a Yamaha Zuma [yamaha-motor.com], (MSRP $1699). (or Honda or Suzuki equivilent) Plus, it runs on gasoline so I don't have to plug it in for 8 hours to recharge it. I can just pull up to any service station and get another 100+ miles for $2.

        So let's recap:
        Segway HT: Range 10-15 miles. Top speed 15 mph. Must find electrical outlet to recharge with. Cost - 5,000.
        Gasoline Scooter: Range - 100+ miles, easily refilled with gas. Cost - 1,700.
        Bicycle: Range: variable. Fuel: biomass. Cost - $200.

        Strange, the less it costs, the more sense it makes.
  • Legal problems. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sifi ( 170630 )
    I think one of the major difficulties for it will be the legal situation - what is it classified as?

    I live in the UK. As I understand it, it will be illegal to ride on the road (since it is a powered vehicle) and also illegal to ride on the pavement (sidewalk). Where the heck can I ride it then?

    Then there's the problem that you look like a complete goon. But I ride a unicycle so who am I to comment?
  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:13AM (#4705360) Journal
    Don't like it, don't buy it.

    However, do not deny the technology in it is very cool. In fact, the Amazon.com order page [amazon.com] has a very nice semi-detailed overview of how everything works, with diagrams, etc.

    I can't wait to try one of these one day when they come down in price.
  • by L0C0loco ( 320848 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:14AM (#4705371) Homepage
    I had the opportunity to see a Segway in use at, of all places, the Toledo Zoo. Aside from looking really cool in action, this thing is supposed to of interest to companies as a productivity enhancing tool. The guy I saw moved along smartly with a package in a basket on the Segway. As I continued to watch, he pulled up at his destination, dismounted and then stood there watching the Segway to make sure it didn't roll/drive away on its own. I would have dismissed this, but he made such a deliberate effort to assure himself that it would stay put. He spent perhaps 15 seconds doing so. I have to conclude that his experience on the Segway taught him to be certain it stays put. If he has to do this every time he dismounts then there is more productivity to be gained. Maybe a little voice recognition system should be added to these things. "Segway, sit! Stay! Good Segway!"
    • Maybe if it had a red led display which swings from side to side two leds at a time and a comlink so you could issue commands and it would reply in a computerized voice.

      "Segway, pick me up."
      "On my way, Michael."

      After that all it needs is a better name and it'd be a chick magnet, S.E.G.W.A.Y doesnt quite cut it.
    • I saw one at Epcot here at Disney in Orlando. The guy was not demoing but actually using it to deliver packages. At one store he had to get off and go inside, but first stood next to it with his hand in front of the handle bar to keep bumping it back because it was trying to leave him. After a few seconds it finally stopped.
  • Segway not IT ?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Flamesplash ( 469287 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:15AM (#4705374) Homepage Journal
    I remember reading a while back about how people who were shown IT/Ginger in it's development have basically said Segway is not it. ZDNet has the story [com.com].

    I was curious why Steve Jobs was getting all excited about something like this, doesn't seem like him.
    • by Soulslayer ( 21435 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:30AM (#4705461) Homepage
      IT is most likely the Stirling Engine that Kamen has been working on for a long while.

      The cheap modern Stirling engine of Kamen's dreams would indeed be an incredible development is it ever comes to fruition.
  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by phaze3000 ( 204500 )
    I just can't wait for 'Segway XXX' on the PS2, Gamecube and X-Box!
  • Other stuff... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Soulslayer ( 21435 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:18AM (#4705398) Homepage
    Dean Kamen [usfirst.org]'s super advanced robotic wheelchair [dekaresearch.com] is far more impressive (a lot of the technology behind the Segway comes from it). It is 4 wheel drive, can stand a person upright so that the wheelchair bound can look "norms" in the eyes, climbs stairs with ease, is faster than a Segway, and is as compact a normal non-folding wheelchair.

    And he has been working on a true compact Stirling Engine [dekaresearch.com] using modern materials for quite some time. Supposedly is quite close to getting it working affordably. Such a device could do wonders for the energy problems of today (not to mention providing electric power even in the most remote areas).

    This is also the guy that invented several key medical devices used in much of modern cardiovascular and vascular medicine. Things such as a blood pump that due to the design of the turbine blades within it does not damage blood cells as they pass through the device.

    Dean is also the founder of the US FIRST [usfirst.org] program designed to get children of the US (and other countries) interested in science and invention at an early age. The US FIRST robotics competition has inspired some very interesting advances in robotics.
  • Incredible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by *Pres* ( 114530 )
    I find it incredible how overwhelmingly negative the reactions of the Slashdot crowd are regarding this product.

    Sure, the Segway HT has been hyped. Duh. Take a dictionary and look up the word "Marketing". This doesn't make it a bad product.

    I can't wait to try one. I expect it to be like the Palmpilot and the original Macs: if you try them, most people "feel" that this is not your average new gadget. Ofcourse I could be wrong.

  • by Bohnanza ( 523456 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:23AM (#4705428)
    Dear Mr. Kamen,

    I am very excited by the chance to purchase a new Segway Human Transporter. While I understand that the Segway is the most important invention in the history of mankind, I feel that it could use a few improvements:

    -I don't feel like standing up while I travel. Segway needs a seat.

    -I can't picture myself leaning around to control Segway, especially when sitting down. Add two more wheels and a better control system. Maybe a steering wheel and a couple of foot pedals will do.

    -I'm certainly not going to ride around in the open air, especially in bad weather. Add a roof, a heater, and an air conditioner.

    -17 miles an hour? Two hours of operation? Sorry, I have places to go. Add a nice 6-cylinder engine.

    -Where am I supposed to put my groceries? Add a trunk. And a back seat. I have a family, you know!

    Add all this, and maybe a 4-speaker CD system, and I think you'll have a winner!

    • by Erich ( 151 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:11AM (#4705756) Homepage Journal
      Bohnanza,

      Most of your requested features are planned for Segway v2. Not only will these features be added, but Segway will be safe to drive on normal streets. It will truely be a revolutionary thing. Entire countries will be redesigned around Segway v2. Families around the world will come to our office and bow before us, thanking us for the amazing accomplishment we have made.

      The initial analysis is that Segway v2 will cost about $320,000, and will have a range of 70km (about 45 miles), or possibly even more. It will be able to run for up to 90 minutes, and when the power is exhausted a simple 18-hour process can be used to power the machine up again.

      I think you will agree that $320,000 is a small price to pay for technology that will revolutionize the world.

  • Like most of you all I am feeling a bit of jealousy at those who can afford it, but at the same time I am equally skeptical. What's the solution? Let some people buy it, and if they like it and it fills a need, the word will spread, more people will buy it, the price will go down, and maybe you or I will get one and you soon we'll be bumping into each other. Or not. Either way, more information about the thing is always valuable, and whether this comes from brochures, reviews or word of mouth, I don't care; they all allow me to make a better decision in the end.

    cleetus
  • For the disabled (Score:2, Interesting)

    I know that there is a wheelchair called the ibot [bbc.co.uk] which is made by John Williamson [freeserve.co.uk]. Part of the attraction is that when the chair is in "standing" mode, the wheelchair bound person is on the same eye level as able bodied people. (is abled bodied people the correct term for people with working legs?) anyway, what would happen if a paralysed person braced their legs straight and then balanced on the platform of a segeway and got that same six foot tall feeling of looking a six foot tall person in the eye for 1/20th the cost of an i-bot wheelchair?
  • by bucklesl ( 73547 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:26AM (#4705441) Homepage
    I'm kicking myself for posting it...

    I think that's what my box will be saying after posting this...

    I got to ride one of them last August -- it was pretty wild.

    http://sethbuckley.com/gallery/Segway [sethbuckley.com]

  • fast enough (Score:3, Funny)

    by budalite ( 454527 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:28AM (#4705449)
    Well, if it goes over 30mph, it'll go faster than most of the traffic in Northern VA during rush hour. If you could brrrm down Hwy. 66 and pass all the other traffic on the extreme left, it would be pretty cool. Heck, near all the "popular" exits, the right lane is usually moving at walking speed anyway. The only real problem I see is that business about leaning forward to go forward & v/v at high speeds. I am probably not that coordinated. Also, people who are concerned about their hair-styling will not be pleased. However, if you can get your dog on the back, s/he would love it. That's it. The ultimate dog-walker!! Thank you, thank you very much. }:{)||
    • The only real problem I see is that business about leaning forward to go forward & v/v at high speeds.

      After riding one for about 15 minutes, it takes all of 3 seconds to learn to balance on it -- you just have to stand on it. I drove it down and up a hill. There's no problem doing either. It's weird leaning forward while going down hill, but the thing automatically corrects. When you go up hill, it is constantly "righting" itself, so you don't fall on your face.

  • How'd he pull that one off?

    I guess they decided to sell to the govt first.
  • by EnlightenmentFan ( 617608 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:30AM (#4705464) Homepage Journal
    So far, with no fanfare, legislators in 32 states have declared the Segway welcome on local sidewalks, according to this article in The Register. [theregister.co.uk] .

    Northern NJ towns are already regretting that hasty cave-in, according to this article. [northjersey.com] The state law Segway lobbyists pushed through prohibits towns from banning any "electric personal assistive mobility devices,'' says that story--the law " was passed after Segway, maker of the "Human Transporter,'' lobbied New Jersey's Legislature and others throughout the country."

    So what's the problem? As a result, New Jersey towns have been unable to deal with the latest fad among local teenagers, electric scooters, which they ride on the sidewalks.

    Note that the scooters now terrorizing North Jersey pedestrians are not "assistive devices" that deserve protection by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)--neither is the Segway. These are vehicles you have to stand up on to drive. But affluent parents who bought these toys for their teens are calling on the protection of the ADA to keep them on the sidewalks and out of traffic. We can expect to see the same with the Segway.

    San Francisco plans to fight back, according to this Examiner article. [examiner.com] Senior-citizen activists and walkers protested they don't want to share their space with a 95 lb machine traveling 12 mph. "The whole point of sidewalks is to separate vehicles from pedestrians," says Walk San Francisco director Michael Smith.

    IMO, the Segway is a pyramid scheme waiting to tumble. Early investors put up the cash for a massive publicity and lobbying campaign. They now have until March to lure unsuspecting buyers to buy their Segways, and unsuspecting investors to buy their stock.

    In March it's all over. Once Segways hit the sidewalks, the pyramid crumbles. Whoever has money in Segways in March will take the hits for liability claims that already have class-action lawyers licking their chops. State legislators will quickly rescind Segway laws, and Segway owners will be riding their white elephants in the street--if they feel like admitting they own this year's version of Edsel.

    • San Francisco plans to fight back, according to this Examiner article. Senior-citizen activists and walkers protested they don't want to share their space with a 95 lb machine traveling 12 mph.

      Well while they might be mechanically able to travel at 12 or even 14 MPH, if you check the Segway website [segway.com] they are now using a reference speed of just 9 MPH on sidewalks (presumably it would be even less on dirt paths). If anything I think that is too slow.

      Considering marathoners go about 12 MPH, and sprinters go about about 20 MPH and they are both legal on the sidewalk (and most of them weigh over 95 lbs - except the women marathoners) why do they insist on keeping these things so slow if they are supposed to be just as safe as a pedestrians? I never could figure out why they think it will succeed at a speed half of what you can bicycle at comfortably. (Yes, I know bicycles are banned from sidewalks in most places but that is rarely enforced - and bicycles are generally allowed on running paths.)

      The point of the Segway [amazon.com] was to reduce the number of cars on the road. Cars kill thousands of pedestrians every year, not to mention reducing air quality and making any activity that requires breathing the air outdoors less pleasant and potentially unhealthy. (Though I guess the greenhouse effect has some net positive effect on providing more walkable days weather wise - assuming you don't want to walk along the beach.)

      • Considering marathoners go about 12 MPH, and sprinters go about about 20 MPH and they are both legal on the sidewalk

        Dude, legal maybe but come on.. When have you ever seen someone sprinting 20MPH down a busy sidewalk? I may have come close a few times trying to catch the early bus but that is NOT an easy task. I imagine if more people were actually sprinting down the sidewalk it would become a nuisance and probably illegal.
      • Slashdotters should worry about Segways-on-sidewalks--not for moral reasons, as you seem to think--but for financial ones. Segway is a *bad* investment, and we are their target.

        The only reason Segways are economically viable right now is that laws have been passed to let them use city sidewalks. Most cities haven't caught on to this yet, and won't catch on until March. But already city officials in both New Jersey and San Francisco are upset about Segways. This is the tip of the iceberg.

        The point of the Segway was to reduce the number of cars on the road.

        Yes, I know that's the hype they've been using in their round-the-country marketing sessions. How unusual, when all the other corporations just try to make money. BTW, what's up with that Buy-Segway-Give-Me-Commission link in your sig?

      • Considering marathoners go about 12 MPH, and sprinters go about about 20 MPH and they are both legal on the sidewalk

        Lay off the crack. A marathon time of 4:30, which is damn hard, averages out to around 5.5-6 MPH. A 4 minute mile (which is at the world-class freakishly-trained level) is still only 15 MPH.

        I've paced myself at a brisk walk and it's about 3.75 to 4 MPH. Believe me, this is still MUCH faster than most of the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. If it's moderately busy (or there is any sort of incline involved), you can forget about being able to even walk briskly, let alone jog or sprint.

        If a thing traveled at 10MPH on the sidewalks, it would be going 3 to 5 times faster than 99% of the foot traffic.
  • Overhyped? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elliotj ( 519297 ) <slashdot.elliotjohnson@com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:31AM (#4705467) Homepage
    The Segway has been criticized mercilessly since it was first revealed. I think this is largely the result of the secrecy surround its development. A great deal of speculation ensued about what it could be, and then when it was launched, people felt let down because they had imagined something more.

    Where else have I seen this? Oh yeah, it happens before every Macworld Expo. It's some kind of clinical condition that relates to people never being satisfied and the grass always looking greener elsewhere.

    Anyway, I think it is pretty stupid to call it overhyped.

    Firstly, the rampant speculation was NOT hype. It was speculation. Hype is when you talk about the great features of a product and how much you want one. Anticipation of the next LoTR movie is hype. Speculation about "IT" or "Ginger" was more like wondering about whether aliens exist.

    Secondly, I think hype can only really be determined after the product is launched to see if it fails to live upto expectations. We have no idea how well the Segway will do. How can we tell whether or not it was overhyped?

    This kind of shooting-from-the-hip editorial commentary fundamentally lowers the level of discussion around here sometimes.
  • I can't wait until someone tries a ride-by on one of those and falls off :) I'll be watching the news.
  • by tps12 ( 105590 )
    It's also the most overhyped and overpriced toy ever, and I'm kicking myself for posting it since that just contributes to the problem.

    Why the sudden change in policy? Or is Segway just not paying you?
  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:41AM (#4705528) Homepage


    "It's also the most overhyped and overpriced toy ever, and I'm kicking myself for posting it since that just contributes to the problem."

    Yeah, far be it from you to listen to your loyal readership who take the time and effort to search the Internet for "Stuff that Matters" to others than just yourself at the same time helping to make your bottom line look a little better.

    Overhyped and overpriced is certainly your opinion which I could personally do without. Do you know how much it costs to make one of these? Do you know the specifics of the R & D went into these? I think not.

    Do you realize how fantastic an achievement in technology this is? Well, I guess not if you think it's just a "toy". (BTW, Nice lame-ass attempt to trivialize it.) The engineering that went into creating a device that balances the human body while moving forward, backward and turning and most importantly anticipates sudden movements to maintain that balance is fantastic!

    Perhaps more important (and certainly undervalued by many) are the potential advances that this type of technology could lead to that we can't foresee right now. (Like this wheelchair [msnbc.com] that Kamen also invented.

    For a nerd who supposedly likes anime, science- fiction, technology, etc. You seem just a little negative and short-sighted.

    But of course, these are just my opinions.

  • For that price.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:44AM (#4705569) Homepage
    ...I could buy a top of the line custom built titanium bike and have money to spare. The bike would be smaller, lighter, cheaper, easier to maintain, not run out of power, go faster, access more places and give people exercise. Ooops! I said the nasty E word, exercise!

    Seriously, it's amazing how much money can be made off of human laziness. People are willing to pay 5000$, along with the effort of maintaining these things, to not have to move their legs
    • I don't have a problem with getting reasonable excercise (though I must admit to not liking it). What I like about the HT is the possibility of using it reasonably safely on a crowded sidewalk, and at the same time extending the effective range I'd be able to travel without going by tube etc. 2-3 times. If you've ever been on the tube in London during rush hours, you might understand why ;) Then you might also understand why I wouldn't want to be on a bike - London traffic is horrible.
  • You get the feeling that the $495 deposit covers the cost of the raw materials of the machine, then the rest of the $5000 deals with assembly labor and profit?
  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:46AM (#4705581) Homepage
    I was wondering why the digitally remastered "Easy Rider" DVD I bought from Amazon had Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda riding around on scooters. I had figured it was just the director's cut.

  • we start seeing engine upgrades and battery upgrades, maybe even the computer chip upgrades. A whole new generation of extreme sports will be created! I can't wait to pull a superman off some motocross jump on 'IT'! You guys just wait!!!

  • What happens when you crash into something, or when there is a computer failure, and the Segway stops working? Why is it that no one mentions the word death?
  • by Pastey ( 577467 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:10AM (#4705754)
    Something I've been wondering about here...

    I recall a few years back a friend of mine telling me a story about his experiences in the military. He did aircraft maintenance on a number of different craft.

    Apparently, many of them make use of extremely high RPM gyroscopes in their on board guidance systems. While I don't recall the technical specs, I do remember him telling me that there were specific regulations for how long you had to wait after the aircraft was powered down before you were allowed to begin servicing the systems. Otherwise, there was a very real danger to both the mechanic and the machine. He related that on one occasion he and his team waited the regulated time period and then began to disassemble the planes systems. As they removed the housing with the gyroscope and began to lower it to the tarmack it suddenly flew from there hands and took off - thereby destroying itself. They were all a bit shaken and one of the long time crew chiefs remarked, "Guess that was a good one" because it still hadn't come to a stop.


    Now the SegWay supposedly uses, "aircraft quality gyroscopes" for balance and control. If these are powerful enough to keep an adult human upright they must be spinning at a terrific RPM. What are the dangers involved in this? That is to say if someone on one of these were to be struck by a car, would one of these gyros take off and remove some unfortunate soul's head?
    • by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:54AM (#4706113) Homepage
      I would suggest that you look at the various links that show "How a Segway works".

      The gyros are made of micro machined silicon and weigh a fraction of a gram. They also don't spin but vibrate instead. They are used only as measurement devices with the balancing being produced by driving the wheels via a feedback mechanism.

      These people designed the sensor [siliconsensing.com] (and I used to work there though not on this project)
    • Now the SegWay supposedly uses, "aircraft quality gyroscopes" for balance and control. If these are powerful enough to keep an adult human upright they must be spinning at a terrific RPM. What are the dangers involved in this? That is to say if someone on one of these were to be struck by a car, would one of these gyros take off and remove some unfortunate soul's head?

      The gyroscopes do not contain rotating masses in the conventional sense. They are solid state "vibrating ring" gyros that use the coriolis effect to measure rotational speed (from here [amazon.com]). Its the powerful motors that keep the balance, not the mass in the gyroscopes, they are simply the sensors.

      Jeff

  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:12AM (#4705767) Homepage
    I live in Manchester, NH, where Segway and Deka are located. I see Dean Kaman's helicopter every so often as he commutes to and from work...

    As a result I see these all the time.. average is about 2-3 a day. Now a lot of you are saying what's the point, they're stupid, use a bike, use a car.. For Manchester they are very well suited. We have this long strip downtown.. going from one end to the other is a pain by car (lots of traffic, lights, no parking) going by bike sucks since you can't bike on the sidewalk (unsafe, and I'll get to that later) and if you only have 30mins for lunch then you probably can't walk to your favorite lunch place and back in that time (Even more so now that Capri burnt down).

    The Segway is great for this task and that's what most people use them for, going to work further then 2-3 miles but not to far, getting lunch, and doing in city things.

    As far as the safety thing.. I don't care how good you are on a bike you can't stop on a dime if you'er going at a good speed.. Until you actually see it in person you can't fully understand, but I saw a guy (from Deka) going down the side walk at probably 8-10mph.. he got to the intersection and STOPED, on a dime, because you have to lean back to make it stop you are already adjusting your center of balance, if you stopped that quickly on a bike you would either flip over the handle bars or wipe out. This is why a segway is safer.

    You go to your friends house and he lives up a flight of stairs? you get off, stand next to your segway, it a button on it and it will walk itself up the stairs (you can't be on it because of the extream angle it's at)

    Over all they're cool, I would get one and use it to get to work (about 7-8 miles) rather then drive my car. I would have never used it when I was living in Goffstown (next town over, small town) since there wasn't anything of interest for about 20 miles around me.. And if I lived in the building above where I worked, or a few blocks away, sure I would probably walk rather then use this, but not if I was 3 miles or more away.

    With all this being said, I still can't wait to see how they are in the snow :)

  • Overhyped? No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:13AM (#4705778) Homepage
    I guess I'm the only person here who doesn't think the Segway has been overhyped.

    This is an incredible product that realistically could change have a big impact on the way cities are planned and the way lives are lived.

    The grumps who are wailing "what about us poor schmoes on the sidewalks" haven't taken a close look at the thing or thought about it very hard.

    Barelling down the sidewalk at 17mph is like running full-bore. Whether you are traveling that speed on foot or on a seque it is still poor social ettiquette. People don't drive their cars 80mph down 25mph residential streets. Why will they start to careen down sidewalks?

    I could see cities bolstering their bike-police force. It's no problem for a reasonably healthly person to bike at least 17mph. They'll help enforce safe sidewalk laws.

    Well, that's looking at the social aspects of the machine.

    Looking at it as a geek I'm in total-fucking-awe of what they've done. They've simulated the inner-ear for all intents and purposes. The machine is rugged, polution free (ignoring manufacturing wastes), and it is really reasonably priced. I'm willing to bet in a year or so these will be available for ~$2000. That's only slightly higher than the price of a decent road, mountain, or commuter bike.

    I saw Dean Kamen a couple weeks back. He was up in North Dakota for one of our Technology Conferences. He focused more on his pet project of more, better science and math education but he did have a seque along. I came away convinced the seque could be a year-round commuter vehicle in our larger cities. If it's good enough for North Dakota in the winter it's damn well good enough for the rest of the country year round.

  • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:18AM (#4705811)
    1) Bring the price down about an order of magnitude.
    |
    2) Design it so that it can be collapsed down to
    where a commuter can easily take it with them on a bus/ train.
    |
    |
    | ...until then, all they have is an expensive toy.

  • by Whispers_in_the_dark ( 560817 ) <rich.harkinsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:32AM (#4705933)
    15 (really 10) miles of charge

    Doesn't seem very far to me. I think I'd be endlessly charging the thing.

    Payload: 250 lbs

    Geez, there is a significant portion of the population that weighs in excess of 250 lbs. I guess it's just not for us, er them, huh?

    NiMH batteries

    The website states they get 300-500 full charges before needing replacing. That's only about a year and a half or so before an expensive part needs replacement if you're using it daily (and for the price you'd better be).

    Insurance

    I didn't find anything involving insurance. How would a device like this be underwritten? Personal property? Auto? What?

    Pricetag

    Besides, the price tag is WAY too high (even if it were 1/10 of what it is now I would be unlikely to buy).
  • by EnlightenmentFan ( 617608 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:35AM (#4705956) Homepage Journal
    Lobbyists downpedaled safety concerns about their product, positioning the Segway as "magic sneakers," says this article (March 2002) [cmonitor.com] in the Concord (NH) Monitor. "It is a product that belongs on the sidewalk," Segway Vice President for Marketing Gary Bridge said. "We can stop as fast as you can in your sneakers. You can't do that on a bicycle."

    In case of collision, the Segway "backs up gently when it bumps an object and has low pressure tires that soften the force on anything it rides over."

  • by psyconaut ( 228947 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:37AM (#4705968)
    (1) Second parallel battery pack -- "turbo edition"
    (2) Holder for a plastic flower -- "nostalgia edition"
    (3) Lowered suspension and purple neon lighting underneath -- "urban edition"
    (4) Pedals instead of a battery so it becomes self powered -- "amish edition" (or alternatively, "Greepeace speical" ;-)

    -psy
  • by cnmill ( 264918 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @11:36AM (#4706560) Homepage
    I saw some of these at EPCOT in September, 02. I also noticed that the stroller rental stands were clogged with people renting those battery-powered carts (moto-thrones) that are occasionally seen in grocery stores for, I assumed, handicapped folks.

    The alarming thing was that based on overheard conversations, a surprising amount of the people who were getting these appeared not to be handicapped, just too lazy to walk all over the disney parks.

    I am in favor of coexisting with technology as much as the next guy, but I have to question things when it makes our (US) overfat and lazy culture more overfat and lazy.

  • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <minuplaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @11:39AM (#4706590) Homepage Journal
    She's 65, lives close to a downtown core, and her eyesight is getting bad enough that driving a car is becoming problematic, or will in the next couple of years. Segway would be a good solution for her.

    Try to look outside yourself when you judge the worth of a product.
  • by lostboy2 ( 194153 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @12:07PM (#4706892)
    I can't wait for the day when an ASIMO [honda.com] steals a segway [segway.com] and runs over someone's AIBO [aibo.com]

    The ASIMO's lawyer was quoted as saying "1001001110001010".
    :p
  • by marhar ( 66825 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:16PM (#4708989) Homepage
    OK, burning some karma here... there have been a lot of posts by people criticizing these things without apparently knowing anything about them.

    Before you jump to any conclusions, please read Dan Bricklin's commentary based on his real life experience in riding a segway:

    Thoughts before riding one [bricklin.com]
    Impressions after riding a Segway HT: part 1 [bricklin.com]
    Impressions after riding a Segway HT: part 2 [bricklin.com] Especially note the sections "Isn't it just like a bicycle or a scooter?" and "How does a Segway fit in among regular walking and standing people?"

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