If you live in the UK (I’m not sure how far these little beasties have travelled) then you’ve almost certainly encountered one of Dyson’s Airblades in a toilet or rest room near you. In the past, not that many years ago, hand dryers were weak and wimpy affairs, which seemed designed to do little more than push the water up your arms so that the sleeves of your shirt or jersey would absorb the moisture. No real drying went on. Then came Dyson, with his big engine and novel “no rubbing” design.
While the claims for the Dyson Airblade are interesting, and the dryer is certified by the Carbon Trust, in practice it is not that exciting. It certainly provides a faster air flow, and that certainly dries the hands faster. However, I’ve noted that many of those in use for a long time tend to have a a somewhat weaker flow through the vents closest to you, and it is hard to avoid the desire to perform the physically difficult (if not impossible) rotation of one’s hands about the vertical axis to gain the benefit of the stronger air flow. It’s okay, but it’s not great.
In truth, one of the best things about the Dyson is not its technology, but the fact that it has spurred competitors like the XLERATOR to put decent motors in their hand dryers. But that’s not the most impressive part. The thing that astonishes me is how quickly these things have spread. I would have thought that hand dryers were the kind of thing that a restaurant or bar puts in when they start up, and leave there until they go bust. Little did I know. It’s clear that there’s some kind of process that is ongoing that means that people working hard for a living are willing to rip out functional units and put in Airblades or XLERATORs or whatever. I’d love to know what the sales process is, and how the incentives work, and whether they believe that people will come to their pub or restaurant more often because of the high quality hand dryer. There’s a story to be told, and I can’t wait to read it.