The Segway scooter got plenty of attention when it debuted. Now a thermoformer is helping a California business use it to draw even more attention.
Advatar Inc. has created a mobile kiosk from the scooter, with thermoformer Freetech Plastics Inc. creating panels that attach to connection points on the Segway originally designed to hold saddlebags.
``They came to us with the concept and a rough idea of what they wanted to do,'' Freetech founder Richard Freeman said Aug. 25 at the Industrial Designers Society of America's annual meeting in Washington.
The concept behind the Ask Advatar kiosk was to use the scooter to create a 21st century version of the advertising sandwich board, Freeman said. Panels along the front and on either side - as well as an overhead banner - provide advertising space while the rider can interact with pedestrians.
To make the concept work, the companies came up with a lightweight yet structurally strong material because the Segway has a maximum capacity of 350 pounds, including the rider.
Fremont, Calif.-based Freetech used a Spartech Corp. ABS-blend sheet to make the nine-piece assembly.
A downtown merchants' group in San Jose, Calif., hired the first commercial Ask Advatar station and is using it to spread the word about the area's hotels and restaurants.
Freetech created a version of the kiosk to promote the Society of Plastics Engineers' Thermoforming Division during the IDSA event.
Freetech often collaborates with companies to fine-tune products, said Jack Strich, business development manager. Freetech helped Tokyo-based dental products maker Hoya Corp. redesign its Versawave dental laser.
Hoya wanted to improve both the cosmetics and ergonomics of the laser.
Freetech was able to design-in improvements in connections and maintenance while also softening corners and hiding air vents.
``We acted as an interface between the designers and the end customer,'' Strich said.
Hoya has received 800 orders for the Versawave, exceeding its global sales expectations, he said.