Segway Inc.—based in Bedford, New Hampshire—was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to transform the way people work and live. The Segway® Human Transporter (HT) is the company’s first and most well-known product, a result of years of research and development led by Kamen with the goal of building something that would make a unique and lasting contribution to society.
Dean Kamen’s inventions always start the same way—looking at a problem, ignoring the conventional thinking that surrounds it, and working tirelessly until it is solved. Like most of his innovations, Segway HT (originally known and once referred to by its development code-name, “Ginger”) reflects Dean’s belief that science and engineering can be harnessed to improve people’s daily lives. Dean and his team saw a way for his balancing technology to be applied to human transportation, brought together a core team to perfect it, and formed a new company to bring Segway HT to market.
One day Dean Kamen saw a young man in a wheelchair struggling to get over a curb. He thought about it, and realized that the problem wasn’t ineffective wheelchairs, it was that the world was built for people who could balance. So he and his team created the Independence IBOT™ Mobility System, a self-balancing mobility device that enables users to climb stairs and negotiate sand, rocks, and curbs. But restoring balance also accomplished something even more dramatic—it elevated them on two wheels, so they could see the world at eye level. If balancing technology could provide such benefits to people who couldn’t walk, what could it do for people with full mobility?
For people with full mobility, using a balance machine had far-reaching possibilities. Typically industrial design is an afterthought. However, we brought the team in early because the design of the Segway HT is integral to the way it functions. Sophisticated computer programming was added, the electronics and drive systems evolved, and Dean chose the right partners—not just investors with money but people willing to invest in his vision.
Then Segway HT took on a life of its own. A new company was established and key outside suppliers, who would play an integral role throughout the development process, were brought on board. And Segway HT kept evolving, driven by creativity and the desire to build something that could make a difference.
Our inspiration for the name Segway came from the word segue, which is defined as, “to transition smoothly from one state to another.” A Segway HT transforms a person into an empowered pedestrian, allowing him/her to go farther, move more quickly and carry more.
Which brings us to today’s Segway HT—fun, smart transportation.