Segway for Kids Introduced — Although introduced with much fanfare, the Segway Human Transporter (HT) has enjoyed only minimal success in the marketplace. Part of the problem, some analysts believe, is the device’s lack of easy classification: is it something to ride to work or for fun on the weekends, or is it better suited for postal carriers and other vertical markets? Many people seem to want one, but not many can tell you what they want one for. Now, however, inventor Dean Kamen is about to quell such questioning. A spokesperson for Segway explained, "We discovered that adults who have settled into traditional means of transportation haven’t entirely grasped the concept of a personal transporter. But those same people’s kids are crazy about it, and better yet, parents love anything that lets them avoid schlepping their kids around all the time."
Today the company announced the Segway Kids Interactive Transporter (KIT), more commonly referred to as the "Segwee." Proportioned to fit smaller humans (but adjustable to account for fast growth), the Segwee sports two oversized nubby wheels and the same gyroscope-directed motion system. In a surprise move, the Segwee actually travels faster than its adult counterpart. "Not only do kids have less fear of falling," said the Segway spokesperson, "we discovered in our testing that they possess much more control at higher speeds." She went on to explain that the Segwee could potentially improve a child’s balance, coordination, and response rates, though she quickly admitted that she had no hard data to support those claims. Thanks to lower component costs and manufacturing economies, the Segwee will be priced much lower than the Segway HT: $2,000 versus $5,000. When the Segwee becomes available in early 2004, Segway expects it to outperform the slow-selling Segway HT thanks to its lower cost and the increasing number of children whose bus routes are being cut in an era of sharply reduced school budgets. [JLC]