Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Segway Celebrates 10th Anniversary

It wasn’t that long ago that inventor Dean Kamen believed his two-wheeled personal transportation device, the Segway, would revolutionize transportation.  Sadly, the Segway has become synonymous with technology failure.  Kamen imagined a future filled people zipping around town on a Segway PT scooter to run errands and travel to work.

That hasn't happened. Nevertheless, Segways are still around. Believe it or not, Segway celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011, and it's not entirely rare to see the devices zipping along downtown sidewalks. That's a fairly impressive feat for a tech "failure."

Let’s discuss how the Segway actually works though.

Powering the Segway

Each Segway PT is powered by electric motors which are, in turn, fueled by phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries. Segway owners may charge these batteries by plugging their Segways into common household electrical sockets. The device doesn't fall over due to its two computers loaded with proprietary software, pair of tilt sensors, and five gyroscopic sensors.

Making the Segway Move

Users play a role in making the Segway work too. When riders want to go forward, they move a control bar away from their body. If they want to move backwards, they move the same control bar nearer to their body. The Segway notices a change in its balance point and adjusts the velocity to keep its riders balanced.  To steer, riders tilt a handlebar in the direction in which they need to move. Today's Segway PT can move up to 12.5 miles an hour. It performs best, obviously, in communities which include a good amount of sidewalks and other areas in which the Segway can properly motor.

Lowered Expectations

Experts touted that the Segway would become a bigger deal that Internet. Plainly the device didn't meet that level of hype!

In the 10 years since its release, the Segway hasn't entirely failed, but its strange overall look and goofy riding style makes it nearly impossible to achieve its expected level of success.

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