We've just returned from the Airblade unveiling on 42nd Street. We got to the AMC Cinemas at 10:30 to attend this press launch and got a chance not only to try out the new machine, but also to have a short chat with Mr. Dyson.
But first, the Airblade.
This new Dyson invention has the same genetics of his others: it attacks a common problem, it's highly intelligently engineered and it works very well. The Airblade is simply a very high powered motor that pushes air at 400 mph through a very fine slit which then allows the air to "squeegee" the water right off of your hands.
Unlike a common dryer, it does not use hot air to evaporate the water, the ultra strong airflow simply "wipes" it off and the water falls to the floor of the machine (and then runs to the ground).
We tried it a number of times and it did exactly as it was supposed to do. It removed the water from our hands very, very swiftly, leaving them with a dry, but pleasingly moisturized feeling. It also worked well around jewelry. The results really did beat both the towel and the conventional dryer.
Now, Mr. Dyson.
Perhaps the secret to James Dyson's being a good pitchman for the company is that he's so bad at it. He seems so honest and shy (like he's been let out of the engineering lab which he misses), that he covers all the basic points well enough, but is far from slick and slightly unconvincing. You feel for him as he goes through his paces.
He spoke to us first about the traditional air dryer and paper towels. Aside from not always working very well, he pointed out that both are tremendously wasteful and unhygenic. Paper towels require manufacture and trees, while the air dryer uses a great deal of energy in both fan and heater to attempt to evaporate the water from your hands. This evaporation technique is a highly impractical task.
So the Airblade doesn't try to do it. It tries instead to get the water off of your hands by blowing it off in a very short time. You can see it happen, as the water from your hands flies off and gathers on the machine (and floor) below. The only questionable issue concerns this gradual covering of the machine and floor with water.
Mr. Dyson says that this is not a problem and far more hygenic than the alternatives as washrooms are regularly mopped and cleaned. While we are not in total disagreement, we have seen some pretty skanky bathrooms and do feel that the random and rather messy water "offage" is a potential problem and potentially sullies this elegant design.
Finally, we asked him the JAPAN question (from this post).
Is the Airblade just a ripoff of the type of hand dryers they've had in Japan for years? Not at all, said Mr. Dyson. Those dryers are quite different in that they blow hot air through holes and attempt to do the same thing that conventional dryers do, only faster. They do not blow air at the speeds of the Dyson machine, and the Airblade does not use hot air. Quite different. We were satisfied, but we've never seen the Japanese version, so we were really passing on this question from you, our readers.
In conclusion, we continue to be big fans of Dyson products and we thanked Mr. Dyson personally for doing such a good job and bringing it all to the US. We also discovered that he's got many more tricks up his sleeve. In talking with engineer John Churchill, he said that they have many ideas in development, and it is just a matter of time until they roll them all out.