Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Forget the Shabbos lamp. Next up: the Shabbos scooter

Bridgeport Township-based Amigo Mobility International Inc. has devised a scooter that will give Orthodox Jews, forbidden by faith from turning on electrical devices on the Sabbath, wheels on the holy day.
The "Shabbat" scooter — a name derived from the Hebrew word meaning Sabbath — is specially designed to keep users from switching circuits on or off.
Instead, the Amigo powers up and starts moving on its own when put into Sabbath mode.
Allan R. Thieme, president and founder of Amigo, said the scooter is the first of its kind in the Orthodox Jew market. Models already are selling in North America.
Within four months, Thieme plans to start selling them in the Holy Land. "If it's right, people are going to come," Thieme said. "This is so right. You can feel it."
The company developed the Shabbat scooter in partnership with the Zomet institute in Israel, which advocates doctrine-friendly technology for Orthodox Jews. The institute inspects and certifies every chair to ensure that it is kosher. Since producing its first Shabbat retail model in April 2004, Amigo International has sold about 10 scooters. Orders are in for 15 more. Officials estimate a market of about 800,000 Orthodox Jews in the United States and Israel.
Actually, I doubt there really is a market. For most people it would ruin the spirit of Shabbat and just look too suspicious. It's too slow for emergency services (see explanation of how it works at the end of the piece, which I don't fully understand). It'll probably be used by a limited number of people with physical disabilities -- and a small number of really rich show-offs with big back gardens...

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