The Segway Syndrome

And behold, a new Segway variant and every inch a fantastically over-engineered and innovative solution to a simple problem, that isn’t really that much of a problem in the first place. Apparently these things cost up to $50,000

So there it is. Segway Syndrome: The misapplication of technological genius, carried off with such panache that the resulting piece becomes a design classic in its own right, though nobody actually uses it. A bit like a 21st Century Heath Robinson.

The Segway was of course forseen… in the Heath Robinson era, as depicted by this cartoon:
(Brown County Democrat, December 28, 1900.) – The “Footomobile” of the future!

Which inspired me to make the somewhat criptic comment on twitter (come on, it was about 4am) last night “If you wait long enough, eventually everything sooner or later, becomes true, but hardly ever in the way you imagined”

This came via this wonderous site, which has (yup, you guessed it) what essentially amounts to a home-made Segway… a one wheeled, self-balancing skateboard.


And of course what with this being the memetic age, it isn’t just presented as a fait-accompli, but also has it’s own instructables page, youtube videos and on the site above, a version history.

Where there are (already) a fairly large number of others.

Was Segway patented? Who cares? An object doesn’t really become interesting until other creatives get to play with its genotype. A patented idea is like a really amazing plant that can’t produce seeds… which is of course exactly what the likes of Monsanto do, but then they are fundamentally evil.

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  1. […] – this is one more thing down the Segway track [1][2]… There’s a couple of vids of them here at from whence they […]

  2. […] A while back I took the piss out of the Segways – because they’re solved a problem that wasn’t a problem – at about $50,000 a go… well now someone’s made a little one – which is (at a stroke) transformed into something pretty neat – on account of it being 3D printed, arduino driven and smart-phone controlled. […]