This is the question on the lips (and
fingers) of journalists, scientists and tech junkies all across the
country. Here is what we know:
Steve Jobs has invested in it, and he claims that cities will not have to be
convinced to structure themselves around IT; "it
will just happen."
- Harvard Business School Press executive
editor Hollis Heimbouch has just paid $250,000 for a book about IT -- but
neither the editor nor the agent, Dan Kois of The Sagalyn Literary Agency,
knows what IT is.
If the book proposal written by the author
of said book (Steve Kemper) is to be believed, then IT will "change
One investor called the inventor,
Dean Kamen, a combination of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Kamen has been
the recipient of the nation's highest technology award, The National Medal of
Here are some tidbits of
information about IT that have been released by the various (and few) sources on
what IT is:
- IT is not a medical invention.
- In a private meeting with Bezos, Jobs and
Doerr, Kamen assembled two Gingers -- or ITs -- in 10 minutes, using a
screwdriver and hex wrenches from components that fit into a couple of large
duffel bags and some cardboard boxes. The invention has a fun element to it,
because once a Ginger was turned on, Bezos started laughing his ''loud,
- There are possibly two Ginger models, named
Metro and Pro -- and the Metro may possibly cost less than $2,000. Bezos is
quoted as saying that IT ''is a product so revolutionary, you'll have no
problem selling it. The question is, are people going to be allowed to use
- Kemper says the invention will ''sweep over
the world and change lives, cities, and ways of thinking.''
- The ''core technology and its
implementations'' will, according to Kamen, ''have a big, broad impact not
only on social institutions but some billion-dollar old-line companies.''
And the invention will ''profoundly affect our environment and the way
people live worldwide. It will be an alternative to products that are dirty,
expensive, sometimes dangerous and often frustrating, especially for people
in the cities.''
- IT will be a mass-market consumer product
''likely to run afoul of existing regulations and or inspire new ones,''
according to Kemper. The invention will also likely require ''meeting with
city planners, regulators, legislators, large commercial companies and
university presidents about how cities, companies and campuses can be
retro-fitted for Ginger.''
A lot of people think that IT is some kind
of transportation device, like a personal helicopter or something similar.
Some have even speculated that IT is an antigravity device or exotic new power
source. Even the kooks over at Sightings.com
(and we use that term affectionately) are getting in on it, theorizing that it
might be something derived from (you guessed it) UFOs.
What is far more likely is that IT is simply a new version of the personal
scooter based on Kamen's wheelchair design. An anonymous fellow (going by
the name Technology Man) has this to say to the imaginative dissenters to the
scooter theory on the MSNBC message board:
An all-terrain electrically powered
scooter-like device, using the technology the inventor has already developed for
his wheelchairs to allow the device to balance on two wheels and ride over bumpy
surfaces. I don't think people will be riding them up and down stairs though,
that would probably be very slow, and rather dangerous, even with the scooters
ability to balance itself. It would only require a small rechargeable battery,
not a zero-point energy device or an antimatter converter.
say the nay-sayers. "But his wheelchairs cost $20,000
He has an answer for that:
could six rubber wheels, a motor, a plastic case, some handlebars, a small
computer, and a rechargeable battery cost anyhow?
Man also reveals something new to us. Kamen supposedly patented the
It seems rather cut and dry, now. Sure, it would
be cool if we could all tool around on personal helicopters and anti-grav
backpacks. But we have to be skeptical. It's our job!