Rumours: Segway isn't really Ginger

As if the Ginger story hadn't gone on long enough, it's now being suggested that Segway isn't Ginger and that something amazing may still emerge....

In the latest twist to the long-running Ginger saga, it's now being rumoured that the two-wheeled device unveiled by inventor Dean Kamen last December isn't in fact the real deal.

According to a posting on the 'ginger-chat.com' site, the Segway Human Transporter (SHT for short) cannot be the same thing as the much-hyped mystery invention originally known as Ginger and IT.

The claim revolves around inconsistencies between the description of Ginger contained in publicity for a book written by journalist Steve Kemper and the actual scooter-like invention. There are also some alleged patent irregularities.

The book is yet to hit the shelves, but back in January 2001 Kemper let it be known that such figures as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos believed the invention would radically change the way we live.

Then Segway was unveiled -- and the world said: "Is that it?"

Since then ginger-chat site administrator 'Spliff' has examined Kemper's book proposal in some detail as well as taking a fine-tooth comb to the patents Kamen has registered and found significant evidence to suggest Segway is not the thing which blew Bezos and Jobs away.

Kemper's book proposal seems to suggest that Kamen began work on Segway in 1995, but no serious development took place until 1998. And yet a patent for a similar device was filed in 1994.

As Spliff writes: "US patent number 5,701,965 shows an early variation of the Segway Human Transporter, similar to the one later found in the newer Segway scooter patents. THIS patent was filed on May 27, 1994. And my timeline shows that Kamen first conceived GINGER around December 1995."

Another posting on the ginger-chat site points out that the series of images of the machine on the official Segway.com site changed subtly in June this year. Originally, there was a bloke standing on the now-familiar two-wheeled scooter. Now there is one image which appears to be the same bloke floating above the ground.

This has reignited all the original speculation that the invention is some kind of personal hovercraft.

The conspiracy theorists also claim Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and someone not known for participating in hoaxes, also claims to have seen Ginger -- and says it's not Segway.

Metcalfe told the New York Times earlier this year: "Some months ago when speculation was running high, I said that Kamen's IT was more important than the Internet, but not as important as cold fusion, had cold fusion worked out. The IT I was talking about, which I did not disclose, was NOT Segway. That's all I can say."

However, this could still be more hot air. And the Ginger story has already contained more than enough of that.

So to conclude: there is no conclusion... but when/if there is one, we'll let you know.


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