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Transportation Toys

Toyota Announces the Winglet, Wannabe Segway Killer 227

Posted by kdawson
from the strange-marketing-moves dept.
Various gadget/toy venues are writing about the Toyota Winglet, a diminutive Segway-like personal transporter. (Toyota took over Sony's robot division a year back.) It comes in three sizes and offers about a third the speed and a quarter the range of the Segway; on the upside, it charges in an hour vs. Segway's 10 hours. Wired writes: "The Winglet is the first gadget to duplicate the celebrated, and often mocked, navigation system of the Segway Transporter."
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Toyota Announces the Winglet, Wannabe Segway Killer

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  • by Snufu (1049644) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:25AM (#24454079)

    Segway Killer

    You can't kill what's already dead.

    • At least see it working [reuters.com] before dissing it. Looks kind of cool, even if in an "its a toy" kind of way.

      I was intrigued at the mention of the possibility that they could be programmed to go specific places.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:31AM (#24454107) Homepage Journal
    buy a bicycle. As much range as you have energy for, fits almost the same places a segway does, doesn't use gas, cheaper, and get this, is actual exercise. Something most people in the places that can afford one of these things can use more of.
    • by Yetihehe (971185) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:35AM (#24454127)
      With this winglet's 6km/h speed bicycle is also much faster. Also you can have some trunk space on bicycle, take small kid with you...
      • ...DiY servicing and maintenance, no license needed, cheap spares available everywhere...

        Winglet? WingNUT is more like it.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "With this winglet's 6km/h speed bicycle is also much faster...."

        6km/h = 3.7mph [google.com]

        3.7mph is a fast walk, and remember that's maximum top speed (so it probably only gets that going downhill) and I'm sure that's if the passenger is a ideal weight, but the release [toyota.co.jp] doesn't disclose weight limit.

        I have a feeling people will be walking pass people riding on these so I think they'll have a hard time selling them if they're more than $100. Even the $99 electric scooter @ Walmart does 10mph [walmart.com] so who'd want a Se
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        At 6 km/h, a brisk walk would beat it, easy. I think my toddler can walk at about 4 km/h.
    • A bike would be perfect for me. I'm only 1.4 miles from work. Well... if it wasn't for the fact that A) The only way to get to work is via a highway., and B) It's a 10% grade to get back from work.

    • by Goaway (82658)

      Hereâ(TM)s a look at the models that Toyota will be testing out in the fall at the Central Japan International Airport (Centrair) near Nagoya, and Laguna Gamagori, a seaside resort complex in Aichi Prefecture. Toyota will test the Winglet in shopping crowds in 2009.

      Your ride your bike at airports and in shopping crowds?

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      The Strida [wikipedia.org] folding bike fits in probably even less space than either a Segway or Winglet.

      Never tried one, just remembered seeing it in a podcast [apple.com].

    • The city I'm in is one of the God only knows how many places which reflexively banned Segways the moment someone managed to fall off them. Thanks to the cotton-padded-life, zero-risk crowd, the cops confiscate them on sight here.

      (Of course, I'm wondering how quickly that would have happened to bicycles had they been invented in the last few years. I'm guessing there'd be federal laws against them by now.)

  • Undead, perhaps? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:32AM (#24454111)
    More maneuverable, more chic (or at least slightly more stylish), and much more portable...

    This seems much more like a resurrection of the concept behind the Segway rather than a Segway killer. I actually want this to take off.
  • I wonder for who is the smallest model. It has a range of 5km. But it's so small I can probably use it to drive from my car to grocery store on opposite side of parking lot. With it's whopping 6km/h speed I will be there faster than my 4km/h walking.
    • Re:Range (Score:5, Insightful)

      by j01123 (1147715) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:56AM (#24454223)

      It has a range of 5km. But it's so small I can probably use it to drive from my car to grocery store on opposite side of parking lot.

      This could be the answer to that ubiquitous American dilemma: How can I get from one end of Walmart's parking lot to the other without getting any actual excercise?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by EdIII (1114411) *

        Thats not the question. The real question is, "how can I sit on the couch and get somebody to come stuff my pie hole with processed chemical laden food so that I don't miss anything on the boob toob".

        The Tivo was only a partial answer. I don't know if anybody saw Wall-E yet so spoiler ahead, but there are people in the future that are fat, live on hyper sleds, and do nothing but watch advertisement-laden tv while stuffing their pie holes with food. I was laughing really hard and the kids did not get it.

        Y

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by JustOK (667959)

          laughing takes energy

        • Any 2000AD fans here who remember the bellywheelers from Judge Dredd?
        • by iamhassi (659463)
          "I don't know if anybody saw Wall-E yet so spoiler ahead, but there are people in the future that are fat, live on hyper sleds, and do nothing but watch advertisement-laden tv while stuffing their pie holes with food."

          only fast-food at that, and sucking down soda. I thought of the movie too when I saw this article.
  • I dunno (Score:5, Funny)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:33AM (#24454121)

    Toyota's got a lot of catching up to do - the Segway has already taken the world by storm.

    • Re:I dunno (Score:4, Funny)

      by j01123 (1147715) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:47AM (#24454187)

      Toyota's got a lot of catching up to do - the Segway has already taken the world by storm.

      I can hardly remember life before the Segway [theonion.com].

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      And I would never consider living outside of one of the many cities designed around the Segway.
    • by janrinok (846318)
      And I was just going to ask "WTF is a Segway", because they've not taken this part of the world by storm. Or did you mean the world according to most Americans? In fact, other than on the TV news, I've never actually seen a Segway, and I have travelled quite extensively.
      • by Mike89 (1006497)
        He was kidding. I've never even seen one.
      • by russotto (537200)

        In fact, other than on the TV news, I've never actually seen a Segway, and I have travelled quite extensively.

        The rent-a-cops in the mighty King of Prussia Mall sometimes ride them. Though I can't imagine what they do if they actually have to chase someone. I can just see a misbehaving teenager staying 10 feet ahead and taunting the guard mercilessly.

    • Re:I dunno (Score:4, Funny)

      by mobby_6kl (668092) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @07:14AM (#24455003)

      That was a joke, but we shall see who'll be laughing once the Chinese segway cavalry [justcrusade.org] rolls over your defensive lines.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Comen (321331)

      Actually, here in Charlotte NC, I recently have been noticing allot of Segways being used by the local police in the downtown area, and also by park security in one of most popular parks.
      Laugh if you will, but the older gentleman in the park was actually doing fairly fast laps around the park, and easily covering more area that 2 or 3 people would, even on a bike he would have gotten tired much more quickly and not have been scooting around like this.
      The police in the downtown area were in a line of about 8

  • by Snufu (1049644) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:33AM (#24454123)
    if elected, pledge to make it their highest priority to fall off one.
  • Small wheels (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GoulDuck (626950)
    I would like it to have larger wheels!
    I mean, I don't have to take a very big bump in the road to fall with these.
  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:53AM (#24454211)

    I was severely disappointed with the Segway. I hear about the "revolution in personal transportation" PR they had going, and I expected one of three things:

    * jetpacks
    * hovercars / flying cars
    * teleporters

    And instead, I get a golfcart cut in half with a gyroscope and scooter handlebars added. What a fucking disappointment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      PR they had going, and I expected one of three things: * jetpacks * hovercars / flying cars * teleporters

      The Jetsons have f*cked everyone's expectations. See, if you watched Flintstones, you weren't disappointed when the bottom rusted out of your car, exposing your feet to raw road.
             

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      The funny thing is I was serious... they made such a huge fuss about it on things like the Today show.

      I was watching Today when the Segway was introduced. For like two fucking hours (my parents told me about the "revolution" thing) they talked about this mysterious thing. My mind is racing - "hovercraft? It has to be a personal hovercraft. Or a fucking jetpack!"

      And then they bring this thing out and my heart sinks. My first thought was "This thing is a joke... right?"

      Segways are useful for a segment of the

      • Ever used one? It's incredibly fun to ride. And I have never learned to ride a bike, but getting the Segway was almost instant!
  • Segway Killer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by shma (863063) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:55AM (#24454219)
    Segway was a huge commercial failure and was pretty much DOA. Does it even make sense to call something a "Segway killer"? How do you kill that which has no life? [youtube.com]
  • The Segway is hardly alive. Maybe more like "Segway-putter-out-of-misery".

  • by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:58AM (#24454233)

    I am going to go out on a limb and state that the Segway has almost no real legitimate use.

    A bike is way more agile, and is able to cover a much wider assortment of areas.

    A bike is able to travel just as fast with little effort, and can travel faster if you want to put that much power into it.

    A bike doesn't need batteries.

    There are health benefits from this thing called "exercise."

    Now if you are talking about a battery powered vehicle that can travel on a road and get you back and forth to work, sign me up. Otherwise its simply a toy.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @04:11AM (#24454295)

      I have seen one perfectly valid use of the segway, and having travelled the same area for the same length of time, agree it would be worthwhile: Large Conventions. Seriously. If you have a convention you're going to be at for 12+ hours out of a day, spanning anywhere from a quarter to 2 miles (think fairgrounds perhaps here) then being able to hang a ride on a device like that could be a godsend for your legs (when I was doing it on foot I barely had enough energy left to either walk the half mile back to my hotel, or worse yet the half mile to my car followed by a commute out of town to my hotel.) For things like that it makes perfect sense. And according to the guy I talked to who had one, it used basically no power while idle, so if you plan out your route through the convention center well, you can spend all day there and only use perhaps 3/4 of your charge. Furthermore there ARE people with knee and hip injuries who it would help feel less bad about their condition that running around on canes/crutches/wheelchairs. Look I'm hip I've got a segway. It's not that I can't walk, I'm just too cool to do it! :)

      Just my 2 cents.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kamochan (883582)
        And large airports. The airport crew in some European airports use Segways for getting to and fro. IMHO works better than the golf-carts they used to use (and still use for lugging stuff and disabled people around).
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Well yeah... it works better for crews that need to get around fast but do not need to carry a lot of cargo (security and whatnot). The only downside is if someone whips out a pistol and shoots at you, you'll have cover for your ankles and that's about it. At least you can hide behind a golf cart. (;

      • by neuromanc3r (1119631) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @05:31AM (#24454559)

        Seriously. If you have a convention you're going to be at for 12+ hours out of a day, spanning anywhere from a quarter to 2 miles (think fairgrounds perhaps here) then being able to hang a ride on a device like that could be a godsend for your legs (when I was doing it on foot I barely had enough energy left to either walk the half mile back to my hotel, or worse yet the half mile to my car followed by a commute out of town to my hotel.)

        No offense, but if you have trouble walking 2 miles in a couple of hours, you should probably use every opportunity to get some exercise.

        Your point about Segways being a kind of hipper wheelchair makes sense, though.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @05:57AM (#24454685)

          I don't think you've ever been to any sort of themed fan convention. Walk 2 miles and stand up for approximately 12 hours, with a 5 minute break every hour. I'd love to see how you fare.

          No matter how strong you are or how much endurance you have, standing/walking around at a con for that long is going to take a toll on you.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by neuromanc3r (1119631)
            I'm not saying that it isn't exhausting, but I don't think that walking is the problem here, standing is. In fact, when I have to stand for a long time, I'm pretty happy when I can walk around for a while (and definitely would not pass on this chance so I can stand on a vehicle instead).
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by supermank17 (923993)
          I have to disagree here. Standing on your feet all day, and traversing the length of a convention multiple times (he said spanning a quarter to two miles) will really wear you out. Its a whole different ball game than running a marathon (which I've also done). You may not be as physically exhausted at the end, but you'll still be tired, and have sore feet/legs.
          That said, I think the real value of a Segway at a convention would be for people like event coordinators, whose job is to rush from one end of
        • A Segway will save you a LOT of time at a convention.

          Five minutes between clients instead of half an hour ... that's important.

    • by z_gringo (452163)
      They are in use in all the airports here. Also many large shopping malls have security people on segways. Actually, security people are on segways at all sorts of major events.

      Paris has tours on segways. Also, I have seen them available in a couple of Spanish cities.

      They are hardly dead. It seems like they are in use for more things every day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by untaken_name (660789)

        Paris has tours on segways. Also, I have seen them available in a couple of Spanish cities.

        They are hardly dead. It seems like they are in use for more things every day.

        Born in America, despised in America, loved in Europe. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
        Segway: the David Hasselhoff of personal people movers.

    • I am going to go out on a limb and state that the Segway has almost no real legitimate use.

      The first cars were pretty useless too. They were just difficult-to-use steam powered locomotives with wheels bolted on. If the Segway and its clones can evolve to become anything halfway decent fifty years from now, then the more power to them.

      That being said, aside from the gadget-allure of this smaller Segway-clone, it might be something that's allowed on subway lines. In my neck of the woods, bicycles are not al

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sapphon (214287)

      I had the chance to try out a Segway a few years ago, and the salesman told me they were pitching it at three main market segments:

      1. The elderly. As has already been mentioned in this discussion, a Segway can be used as a "hipper wheelchair". For elderly folk with limited mobility (i.e. they no longer have the energy required to pedal their bikes through possibly hilly areas) a Segway provides a faster, more elegant, and, yes, cooler alternative to an electronic wheelchair.

      2. Large factories / industrial c

    • by e2d2 (115622)

      You know I actually ride my bike to work everyday about 3 miles each way and if a Segway was cheaper I'd get one for the days it is unbearably hot. I live in Florida and some mornings it's a balmy 85 and with no shower at work I gotta do my best to change my clothes and clean up when I get to work.

      But that's just my particular situation. I don't think the Segway was intended to replace traditional transportation, but instead to fit into a particular niche that it works fairly well in. In fact, I pass a guy

  • These would be cool at big stores. I hate walking around all the fat sweaty people at walmart to get to the automotive section or something. If I had one of these, I could probably use speed and agility to avoid their odor and plump bodies, or just run them down by attaching spikes to the front.

  • Useless (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @04:01AM (#24454245)

    offers about a third the speed and a quarter the range of the Segway

    IOW, it's twelve times as useless!

  • Wheels are overrated. I want to ride one of these! http://www.bostondynamics.com/content/sec.php?section=BigDog [bostondynamics.com]
  • It doesnt exactly take much to kill something that was barely alive anyways (mostly just have to pull out the plug from the resperator). There's also geeks out there who have put together their own segways [tlb.org] for far less than what the actual company wants. IMHO, if I didnt think it looked so douchey to ride one, I'd think it would be pretty awesome to build something like that at home for fun.

    From wiki [wikipedia.org]:

    When it was launched in December 2001 the annual sales target was 40,000 units, [38] and the company expecte

  • Perfect Market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nebosuke (1012041) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @04:24AM (#24454357)

    With its aging population and far more emphasis on walking than driving, Japan is the perfect market for this device.

    The lower speed makes it less likely to be a nuisance/danger on the ubiquitous and heavily trafficked sidewalks and walking paths.

    Also, even the largest model will fit comfortably on most trains and subway lines, making it useful for shopping/errand runs that include a segment on a mass transit system.

    Those two features alone give it a fighting chance.

  • It will kill the Segway about the same way other consumer electronics manufactures killed the Walkman when they copied the concept of the personal stereo from Sony.
    • I don't get it. The only thing I can see that killed the walkman is the demise of the cassette. Or maybe the introduction of the mp3 player.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Then you take my point correctly. Other manufacturers didn't kill the Walkman by copying Sony's design, and in fact, many people referred to all such devices as "Walkmans".
        • No, we haven't had that here since er, 1958 i guess.

          Your parallel runs a bit thin though. I happen to know that Sony remained market leader for walkmans despite many others entering the field. Many made a profit. But if you'd used Philips as an example, they used to be in the habit to pioneer a new market(cd, dvd) and then have others run away with it.

          It can happen that a tiny but viable market is killed by competitors entering the field but it can also happen that the competitors cause the market to grow.

          I

  • Would be way cooler (and probably safer for the old folks) to make some new bigger aibo to sit on and cruise around.. maybe chase cats too. ;)

  • by solferino (100959) <`hazchem' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @05:18AM (#24454521) Homepage

    These vertical hold-on-to column on these things should be got rid of. Then the rider can ride like a skateboard.

    It reminds me of that scene in Back to the Future X where Michael J. Fox rips the handlebars off the 50's scooter turning it into a rad 80s skateboard. Same needs to be done here.

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      Or y'know, you could just buy a skateboard. Faster than this, no batteries required, more portable, cheaper, user serviceable, simply superior in every aspect.

  • What do you mean Segway "killer"? Isn't the Segway already in a ditch by the side of the road, bleeding to death?
  • Is this one Bush proof [about.com]?

    • by Shivetya (243324)

      While its funny to cite Bush's folly with one my friend did the same damn thing and apparently it is pretty common or should I say it used to be. Apparently they had to change some of the programming to prevent that problem.

      In other words, it was a defect and they were lucky he didn't get hurt

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5346050.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd think that a comparatively cheap electric-powered motorized bicycle (targeted at college students and the like) would do a lot better than something dorky-looking like this.

  • the compliment I got from my ex-GF; "I like your lean, muscular ass".

    Not bad for a bona-fide geek, huh? So just because you dedicated your life to science or engineering, doesn't mean you can't please the ladies. Bicycle, my friends, and your quads arms and posterior will develop! Plus, you'll enjoy your commute. There are few things as enjoyable as the speed and elegance of a bike ride.

  • The Swedish word Vinglet means "Wiggler", "Wobbler" which may be more appropriate than they thought.

    Reminds me of Chevrolet Nova halted sales in South America, or, Honda Fitta in Scandinavia...

  • WinGlet? Once again we have a Windows-only manufacturer. This sucks. Sorry Toyota, come back when you have a cross-platform Glet, then we'll talk. Go F/OSS!

    Wait, what? Oh...

  • by linuxelf (123067) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @07:49AM (#24455157) Homepage

    I thought the Segway was the Segway killer...

  • Are those real pictures, or just 3D CAD images?

    The "handlebars" on "M" and "S" look like they are directly above the wheels and foot plates. On the Segway and on the "L" model, they are positioned ahead of that point. Try to picture someone using the "M" and "S", and the handlebar will be tucked in the rider's stomach if the foot plates are horizontal.

    • by 3dr (169908)

      The shorter handles are for thigh or knee control, hence the curved sides.

      I wonder how that would feel. I mean, doesn't the Segway turn by the rider rotating one of the grips? As a cyclist, I think that would feel extremely odd, but I've not tried it.

      But I suppose with leg control it may feel a little more natural leaning into a turn a bit.

  • I've seen Segways up close and I think they're pretty cool. But what about the possibility of theft when you have to leave your personal transporter parked outside of a store or office? I know that the Segway HT has a somewhat secure system that prevents unauthorized starting, but what about the case of a thief just grabbing the machine and stuffing it into a van for a quick trip to the chop shop? Furthermore, it seems that the smaller transporters mention in the article would be even easier to steal.
  • Toyota is just trying to cash in on the stunning commercial success of the Segway!

  • This to me seems to reflect too common a pattern. An American company comes up with an interesting idea but basically does nothing to update or improve it. As far as I can tell all they did was and add a low battery warning so that people wouldn't fall on their faces. Looking at their site it seems they've also offered options car carrying cargo or golf clubs. That's pretty much it.

    And now here comes a Japanese company, taking essentially the same technology, and doing something different and interesting w

  • Thank god! (Score:4, Informative)

    by jwiegley (520444) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @09:06AM (#24455467)

    A lot of us have been disappointed in the Segway. However, having my PhD in robotics, I've been downright frustrated.

    While I would agree that Dean Kamen is "inventive" and very good at marketing, his products are not at all ground breaking in terms of technology. To add insult to injury his products are way over priced.

    Robotics has been able to do his Segway balance trick for many decades. "Gee, sense where center of mass has moved and move the support position under it." In fact, we've been able to do a two link version of this problem as well (Think one Segway on top of another except the top segway has no power.)

    However, Kamen burns through $150M duplicating the already known and is heralded as the most visionary man on the planet. Puuhleeeease.

    His iBot wheelchair is the better of his products (It, by the way only requires the same basic robotics principle as the Segway.) It is slightly more "visionary" on its application and appreciably more sophisticated in its control loops to provide stair climbing abilities. But again... the cost of this beast is $26K. Placing it quite out of reach of most people who need it.

    I'm sure somebody who is a better manager at actually manufacturing a product at reasonable costs could knock these off at half the price or less and provide a greater good to the world than Kamen does by having his face plastered all over magazines. But, sadly, they can't can't because of Kamen's patents.

    I hope Toyota teaches him a lesson about how to really manufacture and sell a product. But, personally, I think the the entire Segway concept is flawed. A "trick" that is cute to behold but the luster wears off fast enough that people come to their senses before actually buying something they don't really need.

    • While the technology might have been available, Kamen applied it to personal transportation in a way that was very much non-obvious at the time, which is what patents are all about.

      His vision of the Segway was personal transportation in an environment designed for foot traffic... a situation that is not met well by cycle-type vehicles.

      However, as such, it is a device that was designed to solve a problem that does not really exist very much in the U.S. today. In that regard, it was very much ahead of i
  • Good thing that most of us tagged this product as a toy, because it really is.
    If you are looking for something green, affordable and healthy to do your moderate daily commute consider getting a portable bicycle.
    They are a blast in Europe and with current gas prices we may begin to see more of them in USA.
    Really practical if you gotta do only a few miles, live in a large city or public transportation isn't an option.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_bicycle [wikipedia.org]

  • Many roads, sidewalks, and boardwalks have specifically legalized it on the roads of the US. So if you wanted to make say... a robot that advertises for you, it would be legal if you used a Segway as the chassis. I'm not sure if similar devices are legal, but I'm sure you'd probably get by law with one.
  • by SmoothTom (455688) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @02:29PM (#24457739) Homepage

    As a handicapped "mobility impaired" person I would very much like to have something similar to this: small, light, easy to use, and, I assume, reliable.

    While I'm no longer in the wheelchair I spent three years in, I am limited in how far I can walk, even with assistance - after about 200 feet I've hit my limit. :o(

    Something like this unit just might extend my range enough to be able to get around in a mall, or even a larger store while standing.

    That would be much better than a wheelchair in a number of ways... Since it puts weight on the legs, it helps to maintain skeletal strength, being lighter than the typical powered wheelchair or motorized scooter mobility aid (which can weigh up to 600 pounds including occupant) it could be safer for others as well as easier to transport, and instead of rolling about with my face at crotch level, I'd be eye-to-eye with other humans.

    If the cost ends up reasonable, I'll be looking into one once it makes it's debut.

    --Tomas

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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