by Marty Demarest
It's hard not to be drawn in by the marketing pitches from the Segway
developers. Imagine how much easier life will be, they suggest, when you don't have to drive your car on those short trips to the grocery store. Imagine being able to travel 12 miles in an hour without having to move your feet. Imagine reduced fuel consumption and a cleaner environment.
What the Segway people continually fail to ask, however, is that we imagine how cool it's going to look when we live in a world where everybody zooms around on wheels.
Because that's exactly what this machine offers: the Segway is a small platform with two large wheels on both sides, and a tall rod with handlebars rising upwards -- much like a wide scooter with a different wheel layout. But instead of propelling yourself, a Segway rider merely leans forward and away the Segway rolls. No balancing necessary, of course. Thanks to "gyroscopes and tilt sensors, software and circuit boards, and high-powered electric motors," the Segway promises a wobble-free ride down the street of your dreams. Moving backwards is as easy as leaning in that direction, and a twist of the wrist turns the machine.
Billed as the next evolution in human transportation, second perhaps -- and only perhaps -- to actually walking somewhere, there is no doubt that for people with mobility challenges, the Segway could offer unprecedented options for where to go and how to feel while getting there. For the rest of the world, it's going to look very cool.
How much will it cost? Well, you see, evolution is a slow process. They aren't mass-marketed quite yet. But for those of you who value the destination more than the journey, you can go to Amazon.com and bid on several special editions right now. The cost is currently climbing well past $100,000 -- but then, Segway owners don't think obstacles -- they lean forward and zoom right past them.
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