You may never be able to afford your own Segway, but soon you'll be able to buy something similar for just a hundred bucks. You won't be able to ride it, but it might ultimately end up being more fun. It's Wowwee's MiP toy robot, which performs a variety of activities while balancing on its two wheels.
MiP was designed in a collaboration between Wowwee and the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California, San Diego. It balances just like the Segway, using the mobile inverted pendulum principle (hence its name) – in a nutshell, this means that the bottom of the robot is constantly moving back and forth, in order to keep the weight of the top section centered above it.
It can be controlled via XYZ Interactive's GestureSense system, in which an onboard 3D sensory system recognizes and responds to the user's hand gestures.
If users prefer, though, it will also respond to commands sent via Bluetooth, from an iOS or Android mobile device running the free MiP app. That app lets them steer it in real time using onscreen controls, preprogram paths for it to follow, or play games in which it boxes or races with another MiP, dances to user-supplied music, or balances multiple objects on its tray accessory. It can also avoid obstacles while autonomously roaming.
The robot runs for about four to six hours of "moderate usage" on four AAA batteries, although a rechargeable model is in the works. In the meantime, the current version is now available for pre-order at a US-shipping-included price of US$119. It will also be showing up in BestBuy stores starting in May, priced at $100.
MiP can be seen in action in the video below.