New Dyson tap dries your hands after you wash

Jonathan Weinberg
Dyson 'Airblade Tap' Dries Hands at Sink (ABC News)

Dyson has turned its expertise in fans to an unexpected new arena - a tap with a built-in fan to dry your hands.

The Dyson Airblade Tap is based on the British company's successful hand dryer, the AirBlade, which can be found in thousands of pubs, clubs, shops and restaurants across the UK.

The Airblade costs £1,000 per tap, and uses infrared sensors to know where a user has placed their hands before pumping out water from the stem.

It can then automatically deliver high-speed streams of unheated clean air from the tap's branches, which dry hands within 12 seconds.

The innovation was made possible by a brand-new, re-engineered small digital motor, the size of a can of fizzy drink, and as powerful as a lawnmower.

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Using digital pulse technology, it accelerates from 0-90,000rpm in less than 0.7 seconds.

Chris Osborne, Head of Dyson's Airblade Engineering, said: "It makes sense to have both functions in the same place. You don't want to have to wash your hands at one point, walk across the bathroom dripping water to dry your hands somewhere else."

He added the invention wasn't a result of customer requests: "We tend to be much more technology push, coming up with ideas, testing them and launching them to see whether people will like them rather than reacting."

Along with the tap, the new digital motor can also be found in two new hand-dryer models and the whole improved range comes after three years of intensive research and development. Overall it cost £40m and was carried out by 125 engineers.

Chris said: "Seeing the first manufactured tap machines was very satisfying. Until that point we had spent a lot of our time dealing with handmade prototypes, which although they are exciting in the early days, are pretty ugly - held together with glue and tape and bits of wood we found in the car park.

"We are already working on the next generation, looking to solve new problems. We are never completely satisfied, if we were, we wouldn't be any good at what we do. We are always looking to pick holes in what we have done and what our competitors do."

The second new product, the Dyson Airblade V, is 60% smaller than the current Airblade hand-dryer. But instead of placing hands inside it like that version, users place their wet mitts underneath the streams of air.

However, it is still far from the traditional down-blowing experience with two sheets of high-speed air fired out at 430mph and across a 115 degrees span to cover the width of each hand. It dries them in 10 seconds.

That machine is made from the same tough material used in police riot shields and costs around £500 while a new version of the famous Airblade has also been created stripping out more than 1kg of materials.

Chris said: "The new digital motor is still a high-powered 1600 watt motor but it is energy efficient because we can dry hands so quickly. It is only running for 10 seconds but a competitor product also with a 1600 watt motor could be running for anything up to a minute and may have another motor to heat the air."

Dyson engineers created over 3300 prototypes across the Dyson Airblade range and every component was subjected to hundreds of tests.

The Airblade tap itself had eight times the amount of pressure a conventional tap put on it - levels that would make a normal one explode. It uses the same type of stainless steel found in the construction of boats.

During the R&D phase, washing hands was simulated a mammoth 213 million times with the air circulated inside a Dyson Airblade hand-dryer during its lifetime enough to fill 26 million balloons.

Chris added: "It is always nicer to use real hands but we have robots and synthetic Latex hands. To simulate the life we expect the products to have we have to use fake hands as no-one is going to spend five years with their own hands under it."

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