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Scooter 'Ginger' like 'a pair of magic sneakers'

Inventor Dean Kamen has also designed a wheelchair that can climb stairs.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- After months of speculation, the elusive gizmo referred to as "IT" or "Ginger" has been unveiled to the public.

The ABC television program "Good Morning America" demonstrated the invention Monday, a two-wheeled, self-propelled scooter that can travel at about 12 mph.

Ginger is the work of the New Hampshire entrepreneur Dean Kamen, who invented a plastic kidney dialysis machine and later a versatile wheelchair that climbs stairs and stands on two wheels.

Inventor Dean Kamen talks with the media about his new invention, Ginger (December 3)

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EXTRA INFORMATION Diagram of the Segway 

Kamen said the two-wheeled scooterlike vehicle is "like a pair of magic sneakers" because the passenger moves by thinking forward or backward -- as if walking -- without falling.

"This is the world's first self-balancing human transporter," Kamen said. "It does what a human does -- it has gyros and sensors that act like your inner ear; it has a computer that does what your brain does for you.

"It's got motors that do what your muscles do for you. It's got those tires that do what your feet do for you."

Kamen said the invention -- called the Segway HT -- will be going out in limited quantities over the next few weeks, and by the end of next year, it should be widely available. The price is expected to be around $3,000.

Kamen's invention has won over some bigwigs in California's Silicon Valley who have seen Ginger and reportedly thrown money behind it, according to initial reports in January on the news Web site

Proponents of Segway say it will change the way cities are built.  

Investing icon John Doerr has called Kamen a blend of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Apple Computer's Steve Jobs was quoted as saying that people will erect entire cities around "IT." founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has taken a special liking to the invention, featuring it on Amazon's Web site.

News of Ginger was first uncovered when it was revealed that the Harvard Business School Press had offered Kamen $250,000 to chronicle the making of Ginger in a book with the help of a writer. Kamen's work is based out of a Manchester, New Hampshire, lab called DEKA Research & Development.


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