The Segway Riddle

Dean Kamen's inventive vehicle failed to change the world. Now he's back for a second act


Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of DEKA Research & Development Corp., at Segway’s headquarters in Bedford, NH. Around Kamen are Segway employees riding the new Segway “i2”.

Changing the world isn't easy. It's a lesson Dean Kamen, the guy who invented the Segway "personal transporter," has learned the hard way. When he unveiled his self-balancing, battery-powered technological marvel (it seems a sin to call it a scooter) in 2001, Kamen predicted that cities would in the future banish cars from their congested hearts, and wildly popular Segways would fill downtown pavements.

Or maybe not. That scenario isn't even remotely likely today. And Kamen, who chairs Segway's board, has been forced to adjust his vision. "We didn't realize that although technology moves very quickly,...

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