Ginger - believe the hype?

The question that has everyone in high-tech circles scratching their heads

It is a mystery invention that could start a revolution more significant than the Internet. It could build a multi-billion dollar industry and change the way we live our lives. On the other hand, it might just be a scooter.

Since details were leaked last week about a top-secret new invention from US multi-millionaire inventor Dean Kamen speculation has been running wild.

Imaginations have been fuelled by the extraordinary predictions made by some of the high-tech big names backing the project. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs predicted that cities will be built around the creation and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos said, "it is so revolutionary, you'll have no problem selling it". Credit Suisse First Boston, which is also providing financial backing, said it expects the device to make more money than any startup in history.

Kamen himself -- who invented the first portable insulin pump and was recently awarded the National Medal of Technology -- says that much of the speculation is overblown. Nevertheless he remains tight-lipped.

Furious speculation about the potential of the device is merely more evidence that the tech world thrives on hype says Adam Daum, senior analyst with GartnerGroup. "It is an industry that runs on hype and if everyone can get a shot in the arm from it, then good," says.

The latest theory, based on a patent application for an invention credited to Kamen and his company DEKA Research and Development is that the device, known as "Ginger" or simply "IT" may be some sort of scooter. Those who remember Sir Clive Sinclair's ultimately doomed transportation innovation -- the Sinclair C5 -- could be forgiven for being a little sceptical about a revolutionary vehicle. "The trouble is, if it's designed by someone living in California, where the sun always shines, they should try living in the UK," says Daum.

So will Ginger be a landmark invention or just a technological damp squib? Until the mysterious invention is unveiled next year the world will probably be left to guess. ZDNet invites responses from you, the readers as to what on earth Ginger may be...

See a picture of what might be Ginger/IT.

No news spreads as fast as a good secret. The latest secret is an invention by Dean Kamen that some tech heavyweights say is bigger than the PC and likely to change the world. Jesse will tell you what he knows and give you a chance to sound off. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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