An engineering and product development firm based in Manchester, NH. Since 1982, DEKA has been inventing and marketing some rather spiffy medical devices. It's majority owned and headed by Dean Kamen.

DEKA has been the subject of a good deal of hype lately. This hype came at first because of their self-balancing wheelchair that can, among other feats, stand up and climb stairs. While the video I've seen of the device suggests it's not ready for immediate sale (the imbalance alarm went off a couple times during the inventor's demo), it's some truly cool technology. The chair uses gyroscopes and motor feedback to figure out and maintain balance.

The second, larger bit of DEKA hype surrounds "It," or "Ginger". Several vague wire stories on the thing have appeared, giving no terribly good clues as to what the device does. Given the recent output of a self-balancing personal mobility wheelchair from DEKA, one might guess that Ginger has something to do with mobility. These guesses are confirmed by a WIPO patent search, which reveals that DEKA engineers have been awarded several patents for self-balancing, collision-avoiding scooterlike personal mobility devices. About a half dozen line drawings of the device in various configurations (most having a wheelbase looking a good bit like that of the DEKA wheelchair) are included in the patent.

Kamen's comments on why "It" is so deeply under wraps suggest that he's afraid big auto companies will work to enact regulations keeping the devices off the streets, or will out-engineer him and come out with these devices first. We'll have to wait and see.

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