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CNN Today

What Is 'Ginger'?

Aired January 12, 2001 - 2:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: I interviewed a fellow yesterday, Natalie, named P.J. Marks, who wrote an Internet piece about a secret that's being talked about in this new book about something that we know nothing about.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: So let's get all the answers on this new secret from Rick Lockridge. Just kidding you, Rick.

RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, that's wishful thinking.

ALLEN: Rick joins us. He's our -- our techno guy. But this apparently has a lot of people abuzz. It's supposed to be -- what? -- an invention related to technology that's supposed to change all of our lives.

LOCKRIDGE: Have more of an impact on the world than the Worldwide Web, and make its inventor, Dean Kamen, richer than Bill Gates within five years. That's some of the hype associated with Ginger, the codename for this invention that nobody really knows for sure what it is.

ALLEN: What do we know about this inventor?

LOCKRIDGE: Well, actually some news -- well, the inventor. That's a great question. He's an extraordinary guy. Before he even graduated from high school, he was making $60,000 a year designing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and stuff like that. He goes on to invent the insulin pump, an absolutely essential device now for many people, and the portable dialysis machine. And then he invents this great wheelchair, called the iBot, that can climb stairs and stand on its two hind wheels.

So he's got credentials, and that's why there's such a buzz over what this might be, because the guy's got credentials.

WATERS: Are we sure this isn't a hoax? Why all the secrecy?

LOCKRIDGE: Well, he's not publicizing it, because his way of working he doesn't want to talk about until it's out there and working, and he doesn't want to have an embarrassing failure be very public. So his practice is to not talk about it until it's out there.

But there is a bit of news about what it might be. ALLEN: Oh, do dish for us.

LOCKRIDGE: Someone over at Reuters -- that it might actually be a mini-scooter that runs on a superefficient kind of an engine that we don't currently have, and it balances on two wheels, so that even a little girl -- apparently, in the patent application there's a picture of a little girl standing on it, on a scooter with two wheels.

Now, the iBot, the wheelchair, is capable of balancing on its back two wheels, and you can't even push somebody over when they're in it, because it's so well-balanced and has microprocessors constantly adjusting. So, that might have something to do with this.

And we're not sure that it's a scooter. And why would a scooter have that big an impact on the world, you might well ask.

ALLEN: Who would use that? Or where would it go from there?

LOCKRIDGE: Well, if it -- the quote from Dean Kamen is that "Ginger will be an alternative to products that are dirty, expensive, dangerous and frustrating, especially for people in the cities." So maybe, he's talking about motorcycles and cars. Maybe this is safer, more efficient, cleaner-burning.

And -- but the underlying thing might be the engine, might be if this is revolutionary -- because he's very interested in power plants. If he's invented some kind of an engine that's very different and very efficient and nonpolluting, that might be the underlying technology he's really talking about.

WATERS: And he's not ready to come out with this until next year, I understand.

ALLEN: Yes.

WATERS: So we're going to be speculating for a year now about Ginger.

LOCKRIDGE: Well, now I hear from a friend of his that a lot of people know about Ginger and have seen Ginger, and he thinks it will only be a matter of hours or days before somebody spills the beans.

WATERS: Well, I'm sure. How can you keep it a secret?

ALLEN: You go after him. You go after him, Rick. OK?

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: And you come to Lou and me.

LOCKRIDGE: OK.

WATERS: Ask the hard questions, will you?

LOCKRIDGE: I'll turn him over to Lou.

WATERS: OK.

ALLEN: Thank you, Rick.

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