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Why didn't the Segway catch on?

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 01:06 pm
@boomerang,
I think sozobe's point about how they fill an unneeded niche between car and bicycle is the biggest reason, but that they failed to even really catch on as a luxury or recreation I think has a lot to do with how "unsexy" it is seen as. It is now very strongly associated with nerds (see Weird Al's White and Nerdy video for an example).
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 01:16 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I think has a lot to do with how "unsexy" it is seen as. It is now very strongly associated with nerds (see Weird Al's White and Nerdy video for an example).
probably because the only reason most of us can come up with for using one is because we can, we have the technology and damn it some people are going to use it whether it has a useful purpose or not.
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 01:27 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Recreation kinda falls flat when your girlfriend can't ride on the back.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 01:31 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

Recreation kinda falls flat when your girlfriend can't ride on the back.
If Farmerman is right about the rough ride that sure does not help either. Other than the geek angle what makes this thing fun?
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 01:52 pm
I can't really speak to the sexiness thing -- the only machines I think are sexy are muscle cars from the 60s and 70s -- or the geekiness thing because so many of the things I find geeky seem to be really popular.

But I can tell you that riding this thing was pretty fun. I was kind of nervous about it but Mo was dieing to try it so, you know, what the heck, I'm all about him trying new things.

It doesn't look like near as much fun as it actually is.

I'm not the type to embrace technology and I really appreciate it when it is intuitive. I was surprised by how intuitive this was and that made it fun.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:02 pm
@boomerang,
Things that are invented to create a niche are either really big or really big flops. Since Segway fulfilled no perceivable need, its one of those "create a niche" thibgs. I think the "ride while standing up" thingy is the biggest drawback. Who the hell needs to ride standing up on a powered vehicle.
PS Gators arent licenseable because they "CANT KEEP UP WITH TRAFFIC ". I think Segways will be in the same boat and wont be licenseable for street use.
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:14 pm
@hawkeye10,
That's pretty much it, just technology.
I did see a show about it a few days ago, apparently the balance system is quite an advancement and they are still tinkering, so from the technology perspective it may just end up a stepping stone.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:28 pm
@farmerman,
I wonder what niche he was trying to fill. The too short to drive, too far to walk niche?

I didn't mind the standing up bit. It really did give you a good view of where you were going and what obstacles might be in your way. I did get a bit jelly-legged when getting off though. Things that are small and low to the ground kind of scare me.

Mo and I are hoping to make a long visit to DC when my brother either retires or gets transferred. It's been a long time since I've been there but I recall that a lot of places were too far to walk, to close to drive and that parking was an absolute disaster. I think one of these would be a great way to get around there.

boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:29 pm
@wayne,
It needs a kickstand like the ones on golf bags that pop out when you set the bag down. That would be a pretty simple improvement I would think.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:34 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

I wonder what niche he was trying to fill. The too short to drive, too far to walk niche?


the electric bike and scooter already fill that niche in most cities - and they have baskets/panniers f0r shopping and carrying junk to and from work/gym

the Segway gets talked about a lot in marketing courses as an example of the difference between sales and marketing. Something an engineer designed because s/he could, not because anyone said they wanted one.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:38 pm
@ehBeth,
The impression I got reading journalism was that the Segway was created by a guy who thought it was cool that he could make technology do this, it was never intended to solve a problem or even be useful, that came later as they tried make money off of it.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:44 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:
the Segway gets talked about a lot in marketing courses as an example of the difference between sales and marketing. Something an engineer designed because s/he could, not because anyone said they wanted one.


That's important if market success is your goal, but unideal if you want to swing for the fences because many large innovations do not come from the market[1] and much progress relies on precisely such unreasonable men[2].

1. "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." - most often attributed to Henry Ford

2. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -George Bernard Shaw

From what little I know about the guy behind segway, he's your stereotypical inventor and not a great salesman or marketer.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:44 pm
@boomerang,
If youre going to DC, might I reccomend the company "Segs in the City"--(I know). It has tours and rentals . I remember seeing their sites and I think there was even a "Get Segs here" place on Connecticut Ave out by the circle.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 02:52 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Things that are invented to create a niche are either really big or really big flops. Since Segway fulfilled no perceivable need, its one of those "create a niche" thibgs.


Precisely.

To introduce a segue here, Dean Kamen has done so many more wonderful things..

i.e.
this wheelchair that covers uneven terrain, climbs stairs, uses the gyroscope system to enable the person seated in it to be eye level with people standing, or to reach for things, etc. etc.
I remember years ago watching a piece on this and at one point, a young woman was trying the system out, she raised herself up, looked straight at her mother, eye to eye, and the mother at her. They both started crying, and I did too.



Also, he's invented a portable dialysis machine, the first wearable insulin pump, a water purification system, and more.

And all people fixate on is this mostly inpractible segway thing.

People who have end stage kidney disease, diabetes, are confined to a wheelchair, or who need water don't care so much about looking sexy.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:06 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
And all people fixate on is this mostly inpractible segway thing.


I agree, and think that has to do with how much it was pre-hyped more than anything else. Remember the "What is IT?" magazine covers back when nobody knew it's name or what it was but just knew that it was supposed to change the world? I think if they hadn't overhyped Segway it wouldn't have caused a backlash when the "reveal" couldn't live up to it and caused a backlash right off the bat.

For those who like utility robots here is a robot that's more advanced, and more useful, and that relatively few know about:



I think it's cool and creepy.

hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:20 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
I think if they hadn't overhyped Segway it wouldn't have caused a backlash when the "reveal" couldn't live up to it and caused a backlash right off the bat.
That, and it was promised that the price would come way down, which never happened, they started around $5K and they are still $5-7K. These things needed to get down below $1K to sell as toys, which is what they are.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:23 pm
@chai2,
I remember seeing Dean Kamen on 60 minutes showing off that wheelchair.

Did you know that they don't make them anymore? Insurance wouldn't cover them and nobody could afford them. So sad. They were amazing. I think about them every time I'm at some store and have to get things off the shelves for people in wheelchairs.

I think he has more than 400 patents, most of them for medical devices that have revolutionized people's lives.

I think a lot of his Segway/iBot (wheelchair) technology is now being used in creating prosthetic limbs so it certainly isn't like his ideas didn't have value.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 03:39 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Did you know that they don't make them anymore? Insurance wouldn't cover them and nobody could afford them. So sad. They were amazing. I think about them every time I'm at some store and have to get things off the shelves for people in wheelchairs.



That's a shame.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 05:26 pm
@Robert Gentel,
A few seconds into that I thought "It's gotta be DARPA" and sure enough it was!

I love all that DARPA stuff.

And the MacArthur Fellows.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2011 05:43 pm
@boomerang,
I'm pretty much for all of the design efforts. Ok, ok, wholly for.

I have long loved italian scooters, and past that, believed they have been important for italians in many ways, like, duh.
Have never ridden one myself and I wish I did, mad at myself for not.

I once worked with a super type ortho surgeon, and he told me about the decapitation on Gayley Avenue in Westwood Village (where I worked). Since I am a fool on feet, this memory is a stopper.
 

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