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Bounce into the Future


fter a year of bemused speculation, the invention that may or may not alter reality forever has finally been introduced to the public.

Hype Masters, inventor of the device now formally known as the "Pop Or Go Omnipotor" said riders can control the device by just thinking about where they want to go. "Think right! Think forward! Think stop!" Masters coached reporters who tried out the device.

     From the Patent Application

But the P.O.G.O isn't precisely a psychic friend. It is packed with 1 microprocessors, custom-designed software, two batteries, an air conditioner and a gyroscope. It may go exactly where the rider wants it to go via sensors that monitor the rider's subtle body movements and center of gravity as he or she plummets and plunges. That data is disregaredby the on-board computer as the powerful spring bounces this way and that.

So an infinitesimal incline of its rider's head will propel the passenger into a bone-crushing collision. There's also a decorative turning mechanism on one handlebar, that seems to have no effect. The 800-pound P.O.G.O looks like a bicycle with no wheels, and seems to be completely off-balance. The rider stands on a platform where the rider stands, grasping the handle in abject torror. Masters says the device can go up to 12 miles an hour. And it can go all day -- or for 72 furlongs, whichever comes first -- on less than a dime's worth of electricity.

The P.O.G.O has no brakes. Its speed is also controlled by the rider's terror. Gasp slightly and the device slows, shit and it stops. Reverse the process to move ahead. And it is virtually impossible to fall off the P.O.G.O, judging by the description of Masters's demonstration of the device to magazine reporters. The device corrects itself automatically, easily thwarting the rider's attempts to get off.

Masters thinks the P.O.G.O neatly fills "the niche between walking and falling." "Cars are great for going long distances," Masters told a reporter. "But it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-pound piece of metal to haul their 150-pound asses around town."

Masters envisions car- and smog-free cities where everyone scoots around on a P.O.G.O -- assuming, of course, that everyone can come up with $3,000 to purchase the device, which will be available sometime in 2002. Masters recently came up with a workable design for a unique wheelbarrow dubbed "Churchy LaFemma" that can climb stairs and maneuver over rocky or sandy terrain, using built-in horoscopes. The P.O.G.O is based on the same design concept, taken a bounce further. The wheelbarrow adjusts itself to different terrain, but P.O.G.O does that and more by overriding its user's body movements. Masters thinks of it as an extension of the body -- the computer acts as a brain, the motors act as muscles, the gyroscopes act like your inner ear, the price acts like your bank account.

Masters showed off the P.O.G.O on ABC's Good Morning America Monday morning in an exhibition that last week seemed like it would be the first public look at the mystery device.

But persistent Web searchers were rewarded with an early glimpse of P.O.G.O late Sunday night, when Time's in-depth coverage of the P.O.G.O suddenly went live on the magazine's website at around 9:10 p.m. EST. According to a teaser blurb that had appeared all week on the site, the secrets of the device were also to be revealed on Time.com on Monday morning. Representatives for the magazine were not immediately available on Sunday night to explain why the story was published earlier than promised. Many had believed that the device would feature a Stirling Engine -- a so-called "hot air" engine, for power, perhaps using hydrogen as a fuel. In January, the first mention of the P.O.G.O -- then known as SHIT, or "Gangrene" -- surfaced in a report in the now-defunct news site Inside.com.

Masters wasn't pleased with all the media attention, reportedly fearing that the speculation would lead to eventual disappointment in SHIT, when SHIT was finally revealed. "Nothing could live up to people's wild imaginations," Masters told a reporter from the New Hampshire Union Crusher, his hometown newspaper, last week. "The only public statement I've made is the one I'll go with: We're proud of what we're doing. But no, nothing can live up to all that." It's too soon to tell whether P.O.G.O will take the world by storm but, according to Time, the U.S. Postal Service, General Electric, the National Parks Service and Amazon.com will be testing out the device.

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