Those of you who know me know of my passion for technology. As a missionary for the application of technology to economic development and commercial/industry real estate, I have written and taught on this subject for many years.
Following my recent total hip replacement, I rewarded myself with the purchase of a Segway. For those of you not familiar with this device, it is a gyroscopically balanced two-wheel personal transportation device intended to change the world (www.segway.com). It fits somewhere between walking and the automobile as a form of transportation. Dean Kamen and his team of engineers created the Segway along with the iBot (a wheelchair capable of climbing stairs).
The book Ginger by Steve Kemper provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Segway and its potentially revolutionary technology. In his book, Kemper points out that Dean Kamen did not invent anything new, but rather applied existing technology in a new way. We have the opportunity to do the same thing in our field of endeavor by asking ourselves the question: what “impossible” thing could revolutionize our work if it could be done?
The appropriate application of technology is important. There are some key questions to ask yourself as you look at the new technology in the market place. First, what problem does the technology solve? Second, whose problem is it? And finally, what new problems does the technological solution create?
The Segway addresses problems of traffic congestion, pollution (it is battery powered), and the need to move short distances (3-5 miles) from one location to another. However, in my opinion, it is not well suited to densely populated urban environments due to congested sidewalks and hazardous streets. The Segway really needs a new infrastructure, such as a Segway lane separate from both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. If you are the first in your neighborhood to own one, you will meet lots of new people curious about this mode of transportation. Plan on spending several extra minutes enroute sharing information with other potential candidates for this revolutionary application of technology. Most of all, plan to enjoy yourself on a Segway–it is fun to ride!