Lots of brilliant inventors have tried to create devices to change the world and many inventors have failed. For every innovation we have, more every month it seems, there are dozens if not hundreds of others either in ‘Development Hell’, or will never be seen by anyone but the inventor and a few clerks down at the patent office.

Then there is the third category, inventions which while making it past the patenting and development stage and actually find someone willing to put it out there into the big wide world, still do not quite manage to take off like one might think they should have.

Segway is dead

One such example in this brave new millennium is that of the Segway. Once touted as the future of human transportation, the Segway enjoyed brief popularity in the earlier part of the 2000’s, showing up in many different news reports and popular television show. Alas, despite some legitimate potential and being a truly original design, the Segway failed to catch on.

Its originality being part of the very problem. Ever since the 1920s, people have been looking forward eagerly to ‘The Future’, often in grand ‘World of Tomorrow’ terms. An effect of this is that most of the population have formed a very clear idea of what the future will look like.

A set notion that did not include the Segway or anything like it. Which is part of the reason ‘hoverboards’ – basically Segways without the handlebars – became so popular, while the original Segway vehicles became a pop cultural punchline before fading into obscurity.

Because ‘hoverboards’ knew how to exploit this idea of what the future would be. Rare is the company that come back from such a monumental failure but Segway are giving it a good go with their new vehicle, the Ninebot Mini Pro.

Learning from the past

Coming in a design that looks somewhere between a hoverboard, a traditional Segway and a unicycle, the Ninebot looks kind of funny to use frankly, but if you can get over that, there are definite benefits.

These include being more comfortable controllable, better balanced and more portable than any other similar transportation device. This is in large part because the footpads do not control turns so it cannot turn away from you while you try to get on and off of it.

They are also far less likely than a hoverboard – of the wheeled variety -to burst into flames, which is always a good thing, second degree burns on one’s feet an legs being just such a dashed bother.

A matter of law

Something that may have been over looked however, despite some clear effort to improve on previous designs, is the bothersome issue of legality. For you see, the NineBot Mini Pro is not technically street legal in any U.S. State. So where and when you would be able to enjoy your state of the art, cutting edge unicycle without being hassled by Johnny Law is a gray area at the very best.

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Trevor McNeil
Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.