Do you remember, in our never-ending quest to make life more convenient, the first time you laid eyes on a Segway? I was actually rather young at the time but I remember thinking, this is going to be great, nobody will ever to have to walk again. It was my speculation, and inventor Dean Kamen’s hope, that this personal transportation vehicle would change the world. Then of course, there’s that thing about it costing six grand and some change just to own one. Even at the peak of its hype it was still just another profound technological artifact economically unavailable for ownership to a vast majority of desiring consumers (like myself). If you really need to get your fix though, many brick and mortar dealers across the country are offering Segway Tours for a modest dent in your account balance.
In a world where livelihood for so many depends on screens, clicks, keystrokes and wifi connections, one might argue that making the benefits of advanced technology available to the masses is at least a duty of the manufacturer, if not a right of the citizen.
Perhaps the time has come where can all rest our legs a bit. Now, for the price of a brand new video game console or half of an iPhone, you too can be the proud owner of a personal transportation device. For a little over $400 out the door, you can get yourself a Swagway. The first thing you’ll notice about the Swagway is a lack of handlebars and a compact frame with aluminum wheels. It resembles the rear axel of a golf cart dressed up in a Hard ABS Outer Body Casing, which you can order in seven different colors. If you order the The NBCF Swagway in pink, they’ll donate $25 from each sale to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The self-balancing “smart scooter” employs a system of computers, sensors and electric motors similar to the Segway in order to keep you upright. It’s thermoplastic polymer casing and durable rubber tires keep it largely weatherproof and supposedly all-terrain, but push the envelope at your own risk.
So let’s say you’ve worked through the “one-click buy” impulse and you’re wondering, why in the world would I want this?
Well, Wikipedia says that the average human walking speed is about 3.1 miles per hour. With the Swagway comfortably hitting speeds of 10 mph, you can be three times more efficient anytime you walk anywhere. The lithium battery that powers it will take you up to twenty miles on a full charge, making this a viable alternative to the car in a variety of situations.
Be careful if you plan to roll over to the grocery store though, the weight limit on these scooters is about 220 pounds. From what I have observed, anything more than a light backpack or purse can throw you off-kilter so remember to pack light. I must also officially discourage “drinking-and-scooting.” The gyroscopic sensors can only do so much of the balancing for you so, be responsible.
My only hesitation in recommending this product has to do with the level of balance required to keep from falling flat on your face. The company claims that for any able-bodied individual, the Swagway is not difficult to master. You can check out these videos, and I’ll let you be the judge. Otherwise, it’s practical, it’s durable, and most importantly, an invigorating alternative to a more benign aspect of life: walking.
That being said, I would highly recommend this cost-efficient (and totally nifty) gadget to anyone who has a walkable commute to work or school. It also makes a great gift for the adventurous techie, or the tech-savvy adventurer, but certainly not for “that clumsy person” in your life. If you are “that clumsy person,” don’t buy it for yourself either. Finally, I would recommend this to people who hate walking because let’s face it, we should probably get out more.
Tyler Austin Brown: California native. Professional daydreamer and obsessive writer. Experimental performance artist and notable rap lyricist. Willing to comment on just about anything. www.tyleraustinbrown.com.