Dyson: the UK innovation edge
Sir James Dyson is the world’s most famous vacuum maker. His “never loses suction” vacuum is the top-selling vacuum cleaner in the world, and his company has since expanded into making better fans and hand dryers as well. He founded the James Dyson foundation in 2002 to nurture young engineers.
James Dyson said: “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution.”
Few British designers can claim to have had as much impact on the cleanliness of our homes as James Dyson – but the man’s achievements go far beyond hard-sucking vacuum cleaners.
A decade after the Cyclon came the DA001 (quickly renamed the DC01), the first vacuum cleaner sold under the Dyson name and, to put it mildly, a real game-changer (despite being a very similar design to the Cyclon). Dyson’s patented Dual Cyclone technology gave the DC01 huge suction power compared to its rivals (90 airwatts, to be precise) – although this came at a premium price.
Dyson has been working on a robotic vacuum cleaner for seemingly forever – but has never put it into production. James Dyson claims that the DC06 worked fantastically well thanks to an amazing complement of electronic brains and more suction power than rivals, but its 70 sensors and three on-board computers meant it was also fantastically expensive to build – it would have cost something like £2,500. The company put the project on ice, with James Dyson saying he wouldn’t build a cheap robotic vacuum that didn’t work as well as the pricey prototypes.
Dyson’s air-moving expertise wasn’t to be restricted to vacuum cleaners, and in 2006 it was applied to commercial hand dryers with the Airblade. Rather than using a wide stream of heated air to dry your sodden mitts, it produces a single layer of cool air moving at a speed of 400mph that dries hands in 10 seconds. Dyson says the Airblade uses less electricity than its competitors as well as working far more quickly, while the cooler air doesn’t increase bacteria to the same degree as traditional dryers.
In 2013, Dyson squeezed Airblade tech into a water tap, allowing people to wash and then dry their hands at the basin.
And in 2014, we can be sure that Dyson will continue to innovate with new tests, new failures and of course new products.