One day Dean Kamen saw a young man in a wheelchair struggling to get over a curb. He thought about it, and realized that the problem wasn't ineffective wheelchairs, it was that the world was built for people who could balance. So he and his team created the Independence IBOT™ Mobility System, a self-balancing mobility device that enables users to climb stairs and negotiate sand, rocks, and curbs. But restoring balance also accomplished something even more dramatic—it elevated them on two wheels, so they could see the world at eye level. If balancing technology could provide such benefits to people who couldn't walk, what could it do for people with full mobility?
For people with full mobility, using a balance machine had far-reaching possibilities. Typically industrial design is an afterthought. However, we brought the team in early because the design of the Segway personal transporter is integral to the way it functions. Sophisticated computer programming was added, the electronics and drive systems evolved, and Dean chose the right partners—not just investors with money but people willing to invest in his vision.
Then Segway personal transporter took on a life of its own. A new company was established and key outside suppliers, who would play an integral role throughout the development process, were brought on board. And Segway personal transporter kept evolving, driven by creativity and the desire to build something that could make a difference.
Our inspiration for the name Segway came from the word segue, which is defined as, "to transition smoothly from one state to another." A Segway personal transporter transforms a person into an empowered pedestrian, allowing him/her to go farther, move more quickly and carry more.
SIDE NOTE: Dean Kamen is alive and well. British millionaire businessman, Jimi Heselden, who bought the U.S.-based firm that manufactures the self-balancing Segway scooter a few years back, was found dead at the bottom of a cliff with one of the two-wheeled electric scooters near his body in London on September 27, 2010. Jimi was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. Read more.
Segway Santa Cruz Tours • 302 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 • (831) 466-0206