Revealed: the new Dyson… er… thing?

by , Home Product Researcher Energy & Home 5 February 2013
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Dyson’s teasing its newest invention. But the dazzling array of metal tubes, plastic things and circular doohickeys in its teaser video don’t give much away. What do you think it might be, and what do you want it to be?

New Dyson invention teaser image

Dyson’s well known for bringing innovation to existing products. Sir James Dyson himself invented bagless cyclonic vacuums, the latest being the DC47 and DC50.

But moving away from vacs, the company’s Airblade hand dryers are now a common sight in public facilities. We’ve also seen washing machines with contra-rotating drums and the Dyson Ballbarrow – a wheelbarrow with the Dyson Ball.

What will Dyson come up with next?

That’s the key question Dyson’s PR is posing to the world in the teaser video the company’s put together to taunt us.

The video itself shows a number of ambiguous elements: tough looking metal tubes, a circular axle/gear-like component, and after 13 seconds there’s the laser-cutting of a logo. This is handily obscured by the light gleaming off the tube it’s being cut into. Does that mean it’s an update of something already available? Or will the logo give away what it might be?

So what do you reckon it is?

Guesses around Which? HQ have been all over the place. Some think it’s some sort of new tumble dryer, others think it’s a lawnmower. One colleague even said it might resemble a car, though the odds are pretty long on that one. The only information that we do know for sure is that this has been in development for three years, it’s been worked on by 125 Dyson engineers and it has cost a cool £40m.

Whatever it is, we’ll be covering the launch next Tuesday 5 February. We’ll be sure to update this post with whatever we find there.

However, before we report back, we want your guesses as to what it might be. Also, if you had a say in what Dyson made next, what would you want it to be?

[UPDATE 5 Feb 2013] - Dyson has revealed its new creation. The company has redesigned its digital motor and put it into three appliances – a new version of the existing Airblade hand dryer, a brand new hand dryer called the Airblade V and the Airblade tap – a tap that also dries your hands. Are you blown away?

96 comments

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John Ward

It’s an appliance for inducing yawns. If I were you, Adrian, I wouldn’t gratify their posturing by covering their “launch” – there must be something more worthwhile to be done on behalf of Which? subscribers next Tuesday. Send an apology for absence – say you will be doing the hoovering. Do I care what Dyson does next? Not a lot.

Thanks for the comment John. However, as far as Which? covering these launches – this will be a product consumers and thus Which? members will want to buy, and so we want to see whether it’s something worth spending their money on. If it’s a new type of product, we may test it in our labs. If it’s a new version of an existing product, like a vacuum, we’ll test it alongside all the others to see if it meets our standards.

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Phil

Yes, my thoughts exactly. Whatever it is it won’t live up to the hype, nothing ever does, and Which? should be a bit more careful about being swept along with it.

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Phil

Oh and Dysons “Airblade” hand driers are just as useless as the ordinary type.

Disagree with you on the Airblade, Phil. I think they are brilliant. Quick high-tech way to dry your hands.

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Steve earle

Phil
Why the put down of the Airblade ? I guess you’re anti Apple too – I see the same misinformed comments about them as well

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Anthony Foster

I disagree about the Airblade – it is extremely efficient at drying better than any other that I have u Well done again Dyson!

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wavechange

To say something positive, all Dyson cleaners apart from handheld models come with a five year parts and labour guarantee. All appliance manufacturers should be doing this. In the early days, Dyson cleaners were unreliable and Which? only started including them as Best Buys when the guarantee period was extended.

It’s good that an innovative British-based company is successful, though I hate the hype. So far I have not bought any Dyson products.

Unlike Phil, I think the Airblade hand driers are an effective product. Maybe someone will work out that it is not healthy to have high velocity air spreading bugs from people’s hands around the room but we now have other brands that do the same.

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wavechange

I forgot to say that I guess that the product will be something for use in the kitchen. Many people spend a vast amount of money on kitchen refurbishment and are prepared to pay a fortune for appliances and gadgets. And it will have a nice logo that took quite a long time to produce.

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BrianAC

My guess is it is a paint stripper.

Totally off topic here, but you have hit one of my favourite topics wavechange.
Is it not time the 1 year statutory guarantee was upped to at least 3 years on non passive, and at least 5 years for passive (non wearing) electrical goods and electronics. There is really little reason why anything should fail in this time.

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wavechange

Brian – It is interesting that the larger Dyson cleaners have a 5 year guarantee, whereas it is only 2 years for handheld vacs and fans. Having a longer warranty effectively forces manufacturers to produce shoddy goods made with poor components because they have to meet the cost of repair. Though I have never bought any Dyson products it was their introduction of longer guarantees that has convinced me that it’s a good idea, especially since it is so difficult to pursue a claim under the Sale of Goods Act. Malcolm R has also been pushing for longer guarantees.

Manufacturers also have rights, so deserve protection from claims for consumers who abuse (including over-use) products.

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BrianAC

I did say on non-wearing parts.
A component is less likely to fail if it is on 24/7 than it will being switched on and off at regular intervals. Don’t try that at home though, the electricity is expensive.
On a motor for example the bearings and armature have a finite life (3 years is fair) , the field windings should last forever.

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wavechange

Brian – Well designed electronic equipment should not be affected by regular switching. Motor bearings do have a finite life but that can be many years. Washing machine bearings and fan oven motors often have a short life because of the conditions they operate under.

One of Dyson’s achievements has been to develop a brushless DC motor, which eliminates problems of brush and commutator wear. Brushless DC motors have been around for decades but I had not encountered them in domestic use until Dyson came along.

I never saw the Dyson washing machine, which had large contrarotating double-drums. Which? was complimentary about the machine (if not filled to capacity), but not the price. It seems unlikely that the new Dyson product is a washing machine, but since Dyson have shifted production to Malaysia, production costs could be cheaper.

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BrianAC

Computer fans have been electronically commutated for many years now, same thing, different scale. I think hybrid car and other traction motors would have to be also, they are just so much more efficient and reliable. Model aircraft motors are a good introduction.
I am pleased to learn Dyson use them though, it is about time they turned up in car fans and windscreen wipers too.

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wavechange

Apart from elimination of brush and commutator wear, electronically commutated motors can run at very high speed. Dyson motors can exceed 100,000 rpm, the sort of speed that I’ve only met in specialised laboratory ultracentrifuges. For a vacuum cleaner, a high power to weight ratio is important.

So Dyson has experience with blowing and sucking air, high speed motors and washing machines.

Maybe a whisk to make a soufflé in seconds.

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wavechange

Air bearings are used in very high speed motors to avoid frictional losses and wear. Dyson has looked at air bearings but dismissed them as inappropriate for products that stop and start.

I cannot think of any domestic product requiring a very high speed motor that runs continuously, even though there are commercial and laboratory applications.

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Chris Gloucester

Dyson is obviously a talented innovator but I went off him years ago when he relocated production from the UK to the far east. Many UK jobs lost be he still advertises his products as British. And besides that his products although clever are expensive and do the basic job required no better than say a vacuum bought in a supermarket for a fifth the price.
I consider Dyson products akin to nuclear powered potato peelers, very clever but expensive and unnecessary.
A career spent in manufacturing has taught me that simple is always best and cheapest. No need to reinvent the wheel. Dyson’s talent should be looking toward areas where some real benefit can be gained, rather than in areas where cheap simple existing products do the job just fine.

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BrianAC

I am not certain, but I think you will find that Dyson operated in Europe long before he came back to UK.
Having been rejected by UK manufacturers I doubt if he feels much loyalty to his home country.
As ye sow, so shall thee reap. Or some such.

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dieseltaylor

Its obvious we should buy cheaper foreign brands as what has Dyson ever done for the UK?
http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk/
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670934/why-james-dyson-invested-8000000-in-a-student-incubator#1

Ok so he has a T/O of one billion punds and pays tax in the UK …
“The British firm now sells more than 80 per cent of its machines – which also include hand dryers and fans – outside the UK. Founder James Dyson, who is now chief engineer, said: “We haven’t been afraid to take a risk, doubling our engineering team during a recession.

“The swelling ranks are working on new technology that is five or ten years away, as we plough our profits back into our lifeblood – R&D.” The firm says it has stayed true to its British roots, ploughing money into development here and paying 88 per cent of its tax in the UK.”

I actually think he has done wonders in shaking up and improving the vacuum cleaner market but what is my opinion against so many.! Continuing to build the machines in the UK at a loss would have seemed bizarre but it was not entirely his fault. The article explains:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/james-dyson-reinvented-the-vacuum-now-he-wants-to-remake-the-economy/article533746/?page=all

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Phil

“The firm says it has stayed true to its British roots, ploughing money into development here and paying 88 per cent of its tax in the UK.”

It’d be interesting to know how old that quote is and how much tax Dyson Ltd actually pay as the company is registered offshore and has been the subject of some odd dealings.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2106379/Offshore-tax-British-engineering-champion-Sir-James-Dyson.html#axzz2JlidOZil

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wavechange

The number of vacuum cleaners that Dyson has sold is testament to the success of the company. The products are designed in the UK, in the same way that Apple designs its products in the US, but both companies manufacture abroad because it is cheaper. I believe that Numatic still manufactures vacuum cleaners in the UK.

The influence of Dyson on cleaner design is very obvious and Dyson has taken legal action over concerns about patent infringement.

Despite the success of Dyson cleaners, some will not buy them because of the cost – either they cannot afford them, don’t want to spend that amount of money or are concerned that the company is overcharging. My reason is that I’m allergic to dust and I want my dust nicely contained in a bag. The cost puts me off too. I am happy to pay Apple prices for computers because I make a lot of use of them but not having children or pets, there is not much work for my cleaner.

I am very interested to see what Dyson comes up with.

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Tony

It’ll be another overpriced, useless item that will only appeal to the gullible.

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dieseltaylor

Seems to be a tremendous amount of sour grapes regarding Mr. Dyson and his company.

I think he is an engineering and design genius. And he is the rarity a successful businessman also. I have liked all his products from the Ballbarrow onwards. I have only ever bought the vacuum cleaners [2].

My philosophy has always been always by the best for everyday use machines. I am very pleased when I can do that and buy British – and I do not even mind paying a premium if it is stylish and British.

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Steve earle

Sad Tony – how sad

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Mum2Xavier

Geez enough with the Dyson bashing!

I personally love Dyson as they have been a god send in our house. I have 2 dogs and a 16 month old.

We also love our Dyson vacuum cleaner and after spending heaps on other crap units, we finally bought a Dyson. It’s 4 years old and we’ve never had an issue with it.

Then along came bubs (very high maintenance would not let me put him down baby) what was I to do? The house would not clean itself. Ta da – enter the Dyson stick vacuum. Voila, issue solved, baby in a baby carrier on my front, as I vacuumed the house.

In our recent 45oC heat (Australia), what other fan could I count on NOT to chop the fingers off my adventurous 16 month old? A Dyson blade less!

Dysons are not for everyone – you pay for the points of differentiation and design aesthetics.

If you don’t like them, don’t buy them, but millions and millions of people can’t be wrong.

Oh and I am dying to know what the new Dyson product will be.

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Steve earle

Well said – lets stop the Dyson knocking – it’s the same with the bad press the worlds most successful company gets, ie Apple
Apple are constantly knocked for just doing what they do and doing it well

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David

You are just paying for the Dyson brand name and their advertising.

I have used Dyson vacuums and the plastic feels cheap. The filters need constant washing. I’m so glad I stopped using Dyson and bagless “cyclonic” vacuums and bought a bagged machine.

I see that people get fooled by Dyson’s glossy marketing. It’s only when a product gets used in the real world do you find out if it’s great or a waste of money. No amount of clever advertising will tell you how good or bad a product is in your home.

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Joyce Cummings

A rubbish waste disposal unit, to replace the green bins and black plastic bags of rubbish that litter our streets.

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Connor

I’m a 5th year MEng product design engineer and have applied to work as a designer at Dyson and hence have been keeping a very close eye on company developments recently.

My guess is a faucet/tap which washes the hands but also dries the hands too. The tubular sections and laser welded fixings would support my claim and the mechanism shown could potentially be used to switch the valve between air/water?

That’s my guess anyway and just for the record, what other British innovators have even come close to the dizzy heights of dyson recently? Very impressive company putting British design and engineering innovation on the map.

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Scott

Good intuition, that’s exactly what it is

Great work on the guess! Very impressive.

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Musse Pigg

I.m.h.o. British Formula 1 designers & engineers are way ahead of Dyson, in innovation,
I do wish that Dyson would develop & market a really good central vacuum cleaning unit – not the tubing & such, just the ‘collector’.

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awmar

A low noise and efficient extractor fan is the elephant in the kitchen. If it were a self-cleaning recirculating type with built-in sump, so much the better. This should mesh perfectly with Dyson’s expertise, so I’m astonished we haven’t yet seen it.

I have pondered the design of such equipment but my brain doesn’t run a fully reliable computational fluid dynamics program. One of the most interesting patented ideas uses the coriolis effect. The biggest Dyson problem is noise: listen to the bagless vacuum cleaner, Airblade or that fan.

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Meh

If it took 125 engineers and cost 40m to develop, it won’t be a lawnmower! Not unless Dyson wants to go bankrupt.

I’m interested to see what it is, I just hope it’s not something gimmicky along the lines of the bladeless fan.

Personally I like Dyson products. I’d love a stick vacuum but don’t know whether I can justify spending £230 on a product that has a battery that’s likely to only last 2 or 3 years…

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wavechange

Apple used to keep new products secret but no longer manage to do this. Dyson is a much smaller company but it is surprising that we don’t know something about their new product by now.

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Robin

Like all Dyson products it will be ludicrously expensive. They’re just not worth the money.

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Scott Humphrey

I still remember seeing Sir James Dyson on Blue Peter showing off his revolutionary vacuum cleaner and the struggle he was having selling the idea to the established manufacturers.

I for one are very glad that there are still companies that wish to innovate and flex the boundaries of what is possible with engineering and design. It’s these companies that push their entire industry forward and their innovations that trickle down to cheaper products benefitting everyone. Whilst you may not wish to pay for a Dyson product, you probably have a better product than you would have had otherwise.

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Phil

Gimmick!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21323365

An expensive one at that. Might be technologically clever but is there a pressing need for it? Seems to me it’ll just cause longer queues at the basins.

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John Ward

So now we know – it’s a hand-drying tap. No more of my mockery – from an engineering point of view it looks brilliant with an ingenious motor and sophisticated electronics. 210 patents and a stroke of genius.

The eagle-eyed John is right – it’s a very clever looking hand-drying tap. Check out the video from the Dyson team:

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Robin

As I thought, rediculously expensive and far too high tech for what it does.

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David

An expensive item made in SINGAPORE!

If it were made here in the UK, it would at least justify the high selling price. But as it’s made in the far East, I just see it as something that’s overpriced, because it’s the Dyson brand name and their fancy advertising which allows it to sell for so much.

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Argonaut...

Singapore factory wages are every bit as high
as those available in UK.

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Phil

According to the ‘Eye Dyson pays his Singapore Design Engineers less than £8,000 pa. The median factory wage is $2,700, the average $4,100.

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Argonaut...

I generally go to the CIA World Factbook for some pretty incontrovertible
facts as to GDP per head of population (updated) instead of relying on
hearsay which may or may not be accurate enough.

Hello all,

Thought I would add more info about the new appliances, apologies in advance for the length of the post. To give a quick overview of each new appliance:

Airblade Mk 2 hand dryer:
A re-engineered version of the hand dryer that you’ll recognise from your local pub. Like the original Airblade, the Mk 2 has HACCP approval, which means it can be used within food preparation areas. The HEPA filter inside the machine makes sure that the air sucked in from the surroundings will be cleaned of bacteria and viruses before being pumped back out to dry your hands. Your hands should be dried within ten seconds.

Airblade V dryer:
Something resembling a slightly more conventional hand dryer, the air that comes out the bottom is blown out at an angle of 115 degrees, towards the wall. This should mean that the excess water on your hands shouldn’t end up spattering your clothes. This dryer also has a HEPA filter to purify the air and, like the other Airblade dryer, should dry your hands within ten seconds.

Airblade tap:
Like the other two dryers, the Airblade tap is primarily for commercial use. However, if you’re fitting a kitchen and you’ve got £999.99 to spend on a tap that can also dry your hands – then Dyson is keen to hear from you. The temperature of the water came out of the tap at about 30 degrees in the demonstration we saw today, but can be adjusted during the initial installation. But this is still going to be a tap to put in a bathroom, not a kitchen where you typically make use of both hot and cold water. The air blown out of the ‘branches’ to the side should dry your hands in 12 seconds. As it’s all sensor activated – you don’t actually need to touch the tap throughout using it.

Sir Dyson’s shiny new motor:
At the heart of each of these appliances is the Dyson digital motor V4. The new version of their mains powered digital motor (as opposed to the battery powered version found in the Dyson DC44 Slim cordless vac that we’ve done a first look review of) it’s visibly smaller than the last incarnation – about the size of a large mug – and much lighter.

The smaller size is key to the motor being able to fit into appliances like the new tap and V dryer, but a reduction in bulk has not stopped it being mighty powerful. Dyson say this new motor can accelerate from 0 to 90,000rpm in 0.7 seconds, which translates at being able to pump 30 litres of air per second though the various appliances.

Dyson tech getting quieter?
As well as the the HEPA filters to make sure the air it is sucking from your surroundings comes out 99.9% bacteria free before it hits your hands, and each appliance also has sound dampening tech – Helmholtz silencers.

These silencers take the form of plastic cavities within the appliance that resonate as air passes them, producing certain tones that should work to dampen out some of the noise. More specifically, Dyson say the silencers are designed to make the first harmonic of the motor tone and the high pitch noise made by the impeller, almost inaudible to the human ear.

These silencers are of particular importance – as it’s this tech we’re likely to see in vacuum cleaners in the future.

So – what do you think?

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Argonaut...

When something tested and tried can be had for lowly between £50 and £80,
I do not feel justified to spend 1000 nothwithstanding it be a superior product
that it probably is.

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Malcolm R

I don’t buy the argument about dripping on the floor. Washrooms with presence-activated driers next to wash basins (with touchless taps) do the job quite adequately. When you leave an ordinary washroom you inevitably touch other suraces – doors or handles for example – in air that has not been hepa filtered. We can get paranoid about freedom from germs – anti-bacterial handcleaner can probably do a better job.

Maybe these would be OK in health centres and hospitals.

It is a pity that Dyson do not support UK manufacturing.

Incidentally, the possible demise of the 1p illustrates the silliness of a £999.99 price tag (if that is true)(!!).

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wavechange

Anti-bacterial hand cleaner is best avoided because most chemicals that are harmful to bacteria will not be good for humans. I expect that they will be banned when this is understood.

I agree about the daft price. :-)

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Malcolm R

wavechange – are you saying the hand gel used in e.g. hospital dispensers for visitors are harmful?

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dieseltaylor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_sanitizer

An interesting article to read. And wavechange is partially right depending on the make-up pf the sanitiser.

It is interesting that the latest research on gut bacteria is showing how humans can be badly affected by mans use of anti-biotics and [bizarrely cured] by enemas of fresh bacteria.

“In Brief
Bacterial cells in the body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. Yet only recently have researchers begun to elucidate the beneficial roles these microbes play in fostering health.
Some of these bacteria possess genes that encode for beneficial compounds that the body cannot make on its own. Other bacteria seem to train the body not to overreact to outside threats.
Advances in computing and gene sequencing are allowing investigators to create a detailed catalogue of all the bacterial genes that make up this so-called microbiome.
Unfortunately, the inadvertent destruction of beneficial microbes by the use of antibiotics, among other things, may be leading to an increase in autoimmune disorders and obesity.”
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health

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wavechange

It depends what they contain. Alcohols such as isopropanol are not a problem but some domestic hand washes contain various other chemicals. Others have expressed concerns. It’s not just me.

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Phil

I can’t help but wonder if all that money and expertise couldn’t have been devoted to developing something a little bit more important. The Dyson dialysis machine perhaps.

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John Ward

. . . or something that does the ironing,even.

This is something I could get on-board with. Maybe Dyson could invent a device that expels air so hard that it knocks the very creases out of clothes? Just wishful thinking, perhaps.

I admit I was hoping for a new tumble dryer – with heat pump tumble dryers becoming slightly more common, it would be interesting to see what Dyson would have bought to the table. Some dryers (and washing machines) already have steam cycles to help knock creases out of clothes – so perhaps Dyson consider this a need that has already been met?

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Steve earle

Phil – a dumb and pointless comment when you think about it – as have most of your moments been

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wavechange

Steve – It would be better if you would comment on Dyson’s products rather than criticising those who have posted their views. What do you think Dyson will come up with next? How do they manage to keep their products secret?

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dieseltaylor

I think there must be a collective misunderstanding of the market that Dyson are actually aiming the product at. I may be wrong but I would think this is not aimed at the home market but at places of amusement , offices, restaurants and pubs.

Air-drying is not suitable for hospitals, kitchens etc. Hand towels, as in disposable paper, are the most hygenic however for for normal use you can see why air-dry can be attractive. Average cost per user for paper towels is around 2p and there is the question of ordering, storing, re-stocking and disposal. In that light you can see why air-blade and clones would be attractive.

The advantage of this latest invention is that you can save on wall space so you can add an extra urinal/ basin or have a smaller room. Economically for a business this product makes sense.

Thanks for your comment dieseltaylor,

And yes, to clarify – while we at Which? were admittedly hoping for consumer products at the launch that we could test, all the releases are for the commercial market, as mentioned in my above comment.

The exception is the tap, as though it is predominately for the commercial market, you can still buy the tap for your home if you so wish. Interestingly, Dyson said at the launch they are hoping to ‘open more doors in this area’ – so it’s possible we’ll see more domestic appliances from Dyson – or at least more commercial products that in some way cross over to the domestic market like the Airblade tap.

The existing Airblade hand dryer, and now the Mk 2, has been cleared for use in areas of food preparation – but not the tap or V blade dryer, so it is possible you will see these appear, or rather continue to appear, in commercial kitchens – if these businesses deem it a prudent investment.

Dyson has also put up a calculator on their site so business owners can ‘calculate your savings’ of using these dryers compared to paper towel dispensers (or regular hand dryers) – if there are any business owners out there, I’d certainly be interested in what you think of this calculator – though be warned you do have to register to use it…
http://www.dysonairblade.co.uk/hand-dryers/airblade-mk2/airblade-mk2.aspx

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Em

I’d be interested to know if the force of the air is enough to blow the water out of a basin. So much for keeping the floor dry.

Hi Em, at the demonstration I do not recall the air blowing the water out of the basin.

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wavechange

Adrian

I have concerns about hand driers that rely on a powerful jet of air, and not just the new Dyson tap. Dust on surfaces and the floor harbours bacteria and other microorganisms, and blowing dust round the room will ensure that we inhale it. Add to that the bugs in the water that is blown off hands put under the drier. Even careful washing does not remove all the bugs and if you have a look at how most people wash their hands you will see that it is anything but careful. I suspect that if Which? was to ask a microbiologist to check the number of bacteria in multi-user toilets with high speed hand driers you would be amazed how many bugs are in the air.

The Dyson Airblade does at least limit the amount of air blowing round the room.

Hi Wavechange,

An interesting point – so do you think that public facilities with low power dryers are better?

As a microbiologist (I believe you said you are a microbiologist in another post? Please do correct if I am wrong) what do you think the best alternative is?

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wavechange

Adrian

My experience is more to do with microbial biochemistry and physiology, but everyone who works with microorganisms soon learns that it is important to work in a draught-free environment to avoid contamination by bugs in dust, which is present even rooms that are kept clean. In toilets used by the public that dust is going to contain faecal organisms and the reason we wash our hands after using the toilet is to remove them because they could be a hazard to ourselves and others.

It is just a guess that high speed hand driers will put more bugs into the atmosphere, but one that would be very easy to check.

I am certainly not trying to criticise Dyson. There are plenty of high power hand driers (e.g. Airforce) that have been installed in toilets in recent years.

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dieseltaylor

wavechange – if you read the supporting articles to the Wikipedia entry I linked you can read the detailed testing done by Westminster on the spreading of bacteria by air, AFAIR link #8.

However humans are covered with bacteria by design so it is important to get that point across aswell as the dangers from some bacterias.

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wavechange

I could not find the article you are referring to, dieseltaylor. I’m not sure if either of us can make useful comment on this, and I have read reviews in scientific journals. :-)

The problems include the different response of individuals to exposure to microorganisms and the vast range – beneficial to benign to highly dangerous. Eschericia coli is the best studied bacterium but within that species can be found bacteria with very different properties. You may remember the deaths caused by E. coli O157:H7. The established route of transmission is via the faecal-oral route but the minimum infective dose is so small that I don’t fancy having that blowing round in a toilet or where food is prepared.

Hi Wavechange,

I didn’t take your post as criticising Dyson – and nor am I protective – Which? is neutral. But I am intrigued by what you say, I had never thought about the air generated by high power dryers pushing around the dust in toilets. In your opinion, would low power dryers, which I’d guess people might not use until their hands are dry, be the more hygienic option – or is it better to use paper towels assuming they are properly disposed of?

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wavechange

My thoughts are pure speculation, Adrian. :-)

Your colleague Shefalee mentioned work done in Which? labs to study microbiological contamination of supermarket chicken, back in April last year. It should be easy and inexpensive to carry out a small trial on hand driers, maybe using toilets in motorway service areas or pubs.

Comparisons of the relative benefits of driers and paper towels seem to intended to promote products, but there is bound to be some proper comparison in the scientific literature, but that might not include high speed driers. Of course, the number of bugs left on hands is a very different issue to the number in the air.

I think Which? has done a good job over Dyson products in particular. Their early models were unreliable and not included as ‘Best Buys’ until Dyson offered an extended warranty free-of-charge.

Ah yes, but sadly we wont be testing these hand dryers as they’re not really for the domestic consumer market – we had no idea what was going to be at the launch – so it is unlikely we would be able to divert funds to contamination tests – but who knows what the future holds.

However, Dyson are launching more products in March (again, no idea what they’ll be) but you have certainly supplied me with some very tricky questions to put to their technical team about high power hand dryers! :-)

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Em

I think this is the study being linked to: http://www.europeantissue.com/pdfs/090402-2008%20WUS%20Westminster%20University%20hygiene%20study,%20nov2008.pdf

It’s been known for decades that hot air dryers are less hygenic that properly dispensed paper towels and this more recent research suggests that overall, jet air dryers are also a source of contamination: less on the hands, but more in the general vicinity.

In fact, that was one of my OP concerns; if the basin is dirty due to poor or infrequent cleaning or, as is often the case, someone spitting in it, the air jet has the potential to blow a lot of germs over the user and into the surrounding air.

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wavechange

Thanks very much for finding this, Em.

Neither of the authors of this report seems to have a single peer reviewed paper so I am unconvinced about the quality of the work, and I think the experimental design is somewhat flawed.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that the Dyson Airblade dryer does result in contamination of air surrounding the dryer with microorganisms (the authors used baker’s yeast for safety) much more than an old fashioned hot air dryer. On that basis, I would expect that a modern high velocity dryer (e.g. an Airforce dryer or the new Dyson tap/dryer) would spread bugs more widely. That’s not even considering the effect of the air jet blowing bug-laden dust off the floor and other surfaces.

Washbasins are likely to be heavily contaminated and if they are below a Dyson tap/dryer then I think you are right to be concerned, Em. Having a HEPA filter will make no difference whatsoever. I think Mr Dyson needs to employ a microbiologist, certainly before making claims that his new product is hygienic. :-)

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Malcolm R

I wonder what the main point of the drier is – just to get your hands “cosmetically” dry or to make then hygienically clean? As wavechange says, the vast majority (I suggest) of people do not wash their hands well enough to remove germs – I gather 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and water is needed, and who does that?. You then touch other surfaces, such as door handles, that others will touch – and spread your germs – HEPA filters or not.

There appears to be a debate around the efficacy of drying vs. residual bacteria, with paper towels claimed to win – they are said to remove more by friction. A similar debate looks at costs, with operating costs favouring electric driers, but this must be offset against the disparity in capital costs. My gripe with paper towels is not their lack of green credentials but the litter they seem to create when the bin gets full – resist the temptation to push your hand in to squash them down if you want to live!
Looking back at the days of carbolic soap, roller towels, school toilets, it’s a wonder we survived at all – or perhaps it was natural immunity – no, that wasn’t commercial enough.

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wavechange

The people who need to wash their hands properly are those in contact with people, to prevent transmission of harmful microorganisms and viruses. It’s complicated by the fact that even healthy people can harbour things that are a problem for others. Gloves are better, but wearing gloves for an extended period or repeatedly washing hands ‘properly’ can both cause problems.

For most of us, the purpose of washing hands after using the toilet, before preparing food and after handling raw meat, etc. is to decrease the number of harmful bacteria.

Now if Mr Dyson could design a vacuum-based hand drier to suck moisture from our wet hands, that would prevent disturbing bug-laden dust in the washroom. Maybe high speed warm jets of air in conjunction with powerful suction would make the process faster. For a small consideration I could help design the Airblade Plus. :-)

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Malcolm R

I presume the focus on driers in washrooms is the contamination of bugs from other peoples insides? But unless you wash your hands thoroughly these won’t be totally removed, so a hands-free drier is only a partial solution at best. We rely on others washing their hands as well, which doesn’t happen reliably, so however good your hygeine you will touch surfaces contaminated by others.
Would it not be better to protect yourself from other peoples bugs – for example would not a reliable anti-bacterial hand cleaning solution give the user protection, irrespective of what others do? Or perhaps a tap that dispenses an anti-bacterial hand wash.

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wavechange

It’s not just other people’s bugs that are the problem, it’s our own. :-(

I really don’t think anti-bacterial hand wash is a good idea. Anything toxic to bacteria is likely to be harmful to humans. For example, if the mode of action of an anti-microbial compound is to damage the membranes of bacteria, it will also damage the membranes of human cells. (Antibiotics are an exception. For example penicillin targets the cell wall of bacteria and human cells don’t have cell walls.) I am fairly confident that some of the chemicals currently used in anti-bacterial products will be phased out. You may remember that we used to have chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride and benzene in the home, but we would not even use them in science labs because safer alternatives are available. The problem is that even though the outer layer of our skin (epidermis) is dead, it is permeable to many chemicals. Apart from that, some antibacterials are harmful to the environment, particularly if they get into watercourses. Alcohols such as isopropanol and ethanol are much safer.

One of the benefits of technology is that toilet flushes, taps, hand driers, etc can be operated without touching them, cutting down on the risk of person to person spread of bugs.

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Malcolm R

But I understand door handles are a problem, for example. Are we just displacing the problem? Why not use an alcohol-based hand treatment?

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wavechange

Their efficacy depends very much on the microorganism. For example, alcohol-based hand-rub has been said to be worthless for containing the spread of Clostridium difficile in hospitals. I have no idea how useful they are in dealing with faecal organisms. The search for safe anti-bacterial compounds is an important area of research.

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wavechange

Malcolm

I don’t think we should get the dangers of shared toilets out of perspective because they are not often implicated in the spread of disease. My concern is simply the possibility that increased use of powerful hand driers of the types already in use plus the new Dyson product could mean that we are inhaling more microorganisms. As someone who spend a few days in Stafford District General Hospital just months before the Legionella outbreak that resulted in 68 cases of Legionnaires’ disease (22 fatal) and having a chest weakness for most of my life, I am concerned about the risk of inhalation of pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

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dieseltaylor

The investigation of hand cleaning methods and blown air effects etc etc.
http://www.europeantissue.com/pdfs/090402-2008%20WUS%20Westminster%20University%20hygiene%20study,%20nov2008.pdf

The payback for an air hand dryer compared to paper towels at a busy site would be well under a year according to a US vendor ….

I do urge caution about getting phobic about bacteria as the idea that bacteria and humans have to co-exist must be made clear rather than demonising “bacteria”. We can never ever be 100% “clean” in normal life so lets be realistic and not see it as an either or relationship. After all the ability to digest milk products by humans is because most of us Europeans host the right bacteria in our gut.

And science is now catching up with the concept of ” Fecal bacteriotherapy” to save lives.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecal_bacteriotherapy

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wavechange

dieseltaylor

Who is trying to demonise bacteria? Not me, I assure you. Some are essential to our existence and most are benign. But ingesting or inhaling certain bacteria can make you sick – even those bacteria that live in our own bowels.

The Wikipedia reference refers to alteration of the microbial flora of the gut, which has absolutely no relevance to the discussion.

My intention was to point out that hand driers that produce a powerful jet of air could mean that we are inhaling bugs from the floor, etc. and from people’s hands. Hopefully manufacturers of these dryers have thought of this and conducted tests. Every microbiologist knows that draughts can cause contamination due to bacteria etc. carried in room air.

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dieseltaylor

I assure you that everyone probably understands that bacteria, dust, and viruses all travel and that one does not need to be any sort of scientist to understand it.

The point I was making is that the general public are bombarded with “kill all known germs” and Microban adverts plus only scare stories from the tabloids. Whilst you personally may appreciate that we cannot exist with bacteria not everyone does. Your concentration heavily on the dangers of blown bacteria in this instance might be be misconstrued as highlighting a high risk is involved for the general public.

It perhaps ought to be made clear that man has evolved in the company of bacteria, and indeed with the everyday assistance of bacteria. People will die but we must beware of the hyping effect – man is very poor at assessing risk and probability. Plenty of press and misguided, manufacturers with sales agendas, or misleadingly edited reports can lead to pointless stress to the public.

I do believe every scare story needs to be qualified by proper statistics on chances of the event happening. For instance what are the current statistics on exploding washing machines? How prevalent are exploding washing machines ….

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wavechange

I’m not sure that Which? Conversation is the best medium to start a scare story. :-)

Respiratory infections may not be as dramatic as heart attacks, strokes and cancer, but they cause a lot of illness and deaths. I believe that I am perfectly justified in voicing my concerns about a potential new route for infections. It’s not me that has made the more emotive comments here. I don’t have anti-bacterial handwash, sprays, etc. in my home and I don’t go around sterilising work surfaces. I use hot soapy water for cleaning, though I do use bleach on chopping boards etc that have been in contact with raw meat.

I certainly agree about the silly hype by manufacturers of cleaning products etc.

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Malcolm R

dieseltaylor, I agree that we can get paranoid about germs, and that getting too worked up about the niceties of air driers and paper towels is possibly going too far. The trouble is we all worry that, however advanced medical science has become, something nasty can still strike us down that may not be curable. Flu, flesh-eating bugs (sorry – you’ll have the name), food poisoning, norovirus (this has recently crippled a friend by attacking the nerve endings) and so on. It can be frightening knowing we are still vulnerable, and commercially this can be preyed upon.
You are right in that, looking at it coldly, it is about the likelihood or degree of risk and we need to accept life has it’s risks – road accidents, lightning, electrocution, falling trees, disease can all hit us – we cannot prevent totally, just mitigate the chances by taking reasonable precautions.

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John Ward

If you are reading this Conversation from the bottom up, as some of us do, you might like to start at the beginning with this one unless you’ve already had your dinner . . . or have a strong stomach and like washroom stories.

I’m not sure saying ‘bottom up’ was the most apt use of words ;)

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Cumbria Smithy

Whether or not this device works, it will not last long in a public environment. It’s just too tempting to get hold of it and wrench it out of the washbasin. Children and young lads will be the main culprits. If I was in charge of such facilities I would wait until the thing is redesigned to be as vandal-proof as possible, and then consider buying them.

Whether laser-welded or soldered, one of these won’t last more than a few weeks in a motorway services.

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Mgt

Seems a good idea but like the Dyson driers, which I’ve only seen in London….it will be top end washrooms that have them. The average Public Toilet or Pub/Restaurant waste their money on useless driers…..Like a lot of others I see…..I turn on the drier…realise it is useless and walk away with wet hands, leaving the drier blowing. I wonder if wheelchair users can stretch across to access this new type of washer/drier?

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wavechange

I have encountered quite a few Dyson Airblade driers outside London. They are much more effective than most of the driers currently in use. A company installing these driers is likely to negotiate a large discount in price, and it will be the same with Dyson’s new product.

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andrew

I understand copper and brass are germicidal (in seconds) so why have we stainless steel and anodised aluminium door handles. Presumably they don’t show they have not been cleaned! So there is a consumer product for Which to test. There might be some with a suitable copper or brass content which look trendy. (Copper is probably more expensive but only coppers compared to £999.)
While on the subject why not look at coinage the old silver and copper were safer. Is the new stuff fit for purpose. Someone asked why we survived in the old days- many knobs were brass then.
Anyway, Why do toilets blocks in some lobby complexes have doors where when you open the door there is not line of site of anything but a wall as you turn a corner or they could be designed in such a way.

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felix knott.

Vacuum cleaner gripe: My plea is for standardisation of tube diameter so that accessories are interchangeable. My new Bosch bagless only has a rectangular brush and short flat blade, whereas I have a cupboard full of more useful tools from previous machines none of which fit…deliberate policy no doubt.

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Em

You can get a stepped rubber adaptor for about £5. They are used by woodworkers to connect power tools to a dust extractor. You might find one that fits your Bosch, depending on the diameter of the hose.

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Cumbria Smithy

I can’t see why any sensible property manager would want to install this device. It would need to be bolted to a steel bar which was set in the concrete floor below the sink to prevent it being wrenched off its mounting, and an electrical supply would be required at every washbasin. Additionally the power and water would need to be carefully separated until the point of connection in the device itself for obvious reasons. Dyson’s biggest mistake to date IMHO.

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wavechange

Gosh – you must live in a rough area. I have not seen any Dyson Airblade hand driers that have been vandalised.

Good earth bonding and use of an RCD is important for the Airblade Tap, just as it is for instantaneous electric water heaters.

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Cumbria Smithy

The Airblade hand driers are completely different and superb, especially the ‘V’ which I’ve used in a few motorway service stations. The V is a smooth, solid box which has very little to tempt a child or youth to grab it and ‘play motorbikes’ with it … unlike the new tap.

Similarly the instantaneous electric water heaters are generally situated out of sight or reach, and they too are solid boxes, so they don’t present quite the same temptation to vandals.

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wavechange

Maybe a note warning that the tap could cause electrocution if vandalised.

Not that it would be politically correct to wish harm on vandals. :-)

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