Dyson unveils £1,000 hand-dryer tap developed in Malmesbury
Engineering giant Dyson has unveiled the latest invention in its stable - a tap that will dry your hands as well as wash them.
Research and design for the Airblade Tap was carried out at the firm's factory in Malmesbury and it was seven years in development, but the company is going to build the device at its new plant in Singapore, said company founder Sir James Dyson.
The new product builds on the firm's success with its existing standalone cold air hand dryers, but is more expensive at £1,000.
The firm's founder, Sir James Dyson, said that the device offered long-term savings over hot air dryers and towels.
However, one expert said its appeal might be limited until its cost fell.
The machine consists of a unit placed underneath the sink containing a motor, an air filter and sound-silencing equipment; a pipe that carriers the water, electrics and air to the tap; and a stainless steel head unit from which the water flows and unheated air jets out at 430mph (692 km/h).
Infrared sensors detect where the user's hands are - if placed under the tap's centre water comes out, if under its sides the air nozzles are triggered.
The firm said that the technology was protected by 110 granted patents with another 100 pending.
Dyson's existing Airblade range - launched in 2006 - has proved a money spinner for the firm. It said that to date the hand dryers had been installed in more than 250,000 locations worldwide.
The firm said that its latest motor had taken more than 100 engineers over £26.9m to develop. It uses an electromagnetic field, rather than carbon brushes, to accelerate from standstill to up to 100,000 revolutions per minute within 0.7 seconds. That was about four times the number of revolutions per minute that motors its size typically produced, said Sir James.
Software run off a built-in computer chip then makes about 6,000 adjustments a second to maintain optimum efficiency, and the unit is mounted on springs to prevent vibrations being passed on to the rest of the equipment.
The motor is guaranteed to last for five years, and the firm estimates over its lifetime it should be able to pump the equivalent amount of air needed to fill 26 million party balloons.
Companies such as Hyco, Warner Howard and Airdri make much cheaper hand dryers - with basic units selling for between £50 and £80. But Sir James said his latest product offered advantages in the long run.
"If you had a hot air hand dryer you would have five times the [running] cost, and if you had paper towels you'd have 15 times the cost," said Sir James.
"So actually although the initial cost is expensive it saves you money and you use a lot less energy with it."
He added that his firm would initially target the device at restaurants, hotels, airports and sports stadia, but added that he thought it ultimately "ought to be in everybody's house" as it was more hygienic than using and re-using hand towels.