"Ginger" ain't all that


— 12:04 AM on January 15, 2001

Dean Kamen, the inventor whose latest creation has been the subject of intense speculation all over the Internet in the past week, has finally spoken to the press about his invention, known as "IT" or "Ginger." He isn't saying much, but he is warning that all the hype is getting out of hand:

DEKA is currently working on several exciting projects. The book proposal referred to one. However, the leaked proposal quoted several prominent technology leaders out of context, without their doubts, risks and maybes included. This, together with spirited speculation about the unknown, has led to expectations that are beyond whimsical. We have a promising project, but nothing of the earth-shattering nature that people are conjuring up.
So Kamen is calling "IT"—whatever it is—whimsical? Sounds like it to me.

Of course, I was a bit skeptical once details started leaking and all signs pointed to Ginger being some sort of scooter. Think about it: the quotations that originally got everyone fired up about this thing came (second-hand, no less) from Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. Now, I don't know much about Bezos, but Jobs I know. If you showed Steve Jobs an efficient new design for a nosehair trimmer, he'd come away talking about how the device would "change the way people breathe" and "entire relationships will be built around it." So it's easy to see how Jobs might wax hyperbolic about a reasonably cool new scooter.

Then again, tech guru-types continue to say tantalizing things about Kamen's invention, including one guy I tend to respect. Check it:

Despite Kamen's admonitions, top scientists, including people who have seen the device, continue to describe it as world-transforming. Bob Metcalfe, the creator of the ethernet and a noted technology commentator, who has seen the invention, which has been dubbed ''Ginger,'' puckishly told Good Morning America that ''IT'' was perhaps not as important as cold fusion but probably a bigger deal than the Internet. Talking to Inside.com Thursday, he posed an equally cryptic rhetorical question: ''If I invented metal, and came out with the first spoon, which would be the big invention, the spoon or metal?''
Which raises the question: which benefits more from a good trim, the nose or the hair?
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