The World Wonders: What is IT?
Posted January 11, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — An eccentric, but very productive and respected inventor may literally change the way we live.
Two days ago, word leaked that Dean Kamen has developed a device called "IT". Well-known technology leaders who have seen "IT" claim the invention is more significant than the Internet or the PC.
So, what is IT? The codename for IT is "Ginger." A search of theWorld Intellectual Property Organization'sdatabase shows that Kamen filed for a patent for a "Personal Mobility Vehicle." So, is Ginger a scooter?
Whatever IT is, Kamen has some big names going ga-ga over IT.
"The players are incredible," says P.J. Mark, a correspondent forInside.com. "Not only do you have Dean Kamen, but you also have Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. These are visionaries of our times."
Jobs claims cities will be built based on IT. Bezos says there will be no trouble selling IT at a couple of thousand dollars each.
The patent site shows the "Personal Mobility Vehicle" invention will be microprocessor-controlled to automatically maintain balance.
Motors are mentioned, but not a specific type. There are several types of IT to handle people and cargo.
If IT is successful, some predict Kamen's wealth could surpass that of Bill Gates in only five years.
A clue to what IT is: Kamen says it will be an alternative to products that are "dirty, expensive, sometimes dangerous and often frustrating, especially to people in cities."
Whatever IT is, the media is abuzz, but we will have to wait until some time next year to meet Ginger and IT.
If IT is a personal-transportation scooter, Kamen says legislation and some old-line industries, like the petroleum and automotive industries, would likely fight its success.