By James Wells
SYDNEY: James Dyson, who is in Sydney today to officially launch the AirBlade commercial hand dryer to the Australian market, could ask for as much as $2,000 for his latest invention.
The product, which has been on sale in England for the last six months for ₤599 ($A1,399) is expected to cost more than the direct currency translation due to specific approvals processes and potential changes made to the product for Australian market.
The hand dryer, which features the familiar silver and yellow colour scheme of the first Dyson vacuum cleaner — the DC01 — acts like a squeegee for removing water from hands rather than evaporating the water by turning it into steam which is the traditional process of hand dryers in bathrooms. It is expected to be sold commercially for installations in buildings and public areas such as sports stadiums and airports.
Dyson claims his product not only cuts down time, but also energy consumption.
“The AirBlade takes about 8-10 seconds, while others take 40 seconds and have a heater and we don’t – and a heater uses a lot of electricity,” he said today.
“We are using new technology to make something that doesn’t work, work properly in a pleasing manner – your hands feel good, not chapped and nasty, they are dry and you have done it quickly – in about a fifth of the time.”
Dyson is adamant that this product is not a one-off.
“No it is not. We’re all engineers and we have much better ideas up our sleeves as we do with the vacuum cleaner, reinventing ourselves with something better.
“We are piling a lot more development into it – it is a very interesting area. People are demanding more better wash room facilities from lavatories and public toilets. Roller towels and paper towels are unsatisfactory – it takes too long and there is potentially a huge and growing market there.”
Dyson admitted the AirBlade was a creation which was developed on the way to building another product which Dyson is yet to release.
“We were developing the technology for another product, which we haven’t released yet but probably will one day.”
Dyson claims the product has been built around the X20 digital motor developed by the company – a small, long-life, low-energy and brushless motor spinning at 1,666 revolutions per second.
“We created the X20 digital motor for use in Japanese vacuum cleaners, and while playing around with what we call AirKnife technology which creates a very high pressure knife of air, we applied it to drying hands in an area where we saw there was a problem – existing hand dryers which is daft way to do it. It gave us the high speed pressure like turbo chargers in cars – and we are just doing the same thing with air flow.”
Dyson also argues that by not drying hands effectively, germs can multiply quickly.
The machine also acts as a filter for the polluted air in a bathroom as it contains a HEPA filter with a bacteria-killing screen.
“The extraordinary thing is that existing hand dryers are circulating the air that exists in the lavatory that can contain, so I’m told, up to 40 different traces of faeces or something disgusting like that.”
The AirBlade is designed to replace products such as paper towels which can cost owners of commercial bathrooms up to $2,000 a year to run.
Dyson declined to confirm the number of products he is manufacturing other than to say “quite a few” with installations inside the London Eye, Wembley Stadium, John Lewis department store, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen in London as well as the Eiffel Tower and Pompidou Centre in Paris.
The AirBlade has been on sale in England since the middle of this year and he has commenced sales into China. At this stage it appears that Dyson himself has the only domestic installation, he does not believe he will be the last.
“All sorts of places need them – anywhere where you have a high through-flow of people.”