Thursday, December 17, 2009

Designing Starts With Thinking

New designs that work often require designers to re-think an old idea and approach it from a different direction.

Dyson (one of the world's best design innovators) has come up with a new take on the blow-dryers used in public bathrooms. I actually got to use one last night and, after the first bit of confusion and unfamiliarity, I found it functionally effective and aesthetically satisfying.

While I like the idea of hand dryers for environmental and health reasons, blow dryers have not done the job as easily as just grabbing a paper towel (when available). I like the idea of not having wasteful, over-flowing paper all over the floor so I wanted blow-dryers to work.

I was pleased when they came out with those super-powerful dryers that are so powerful they distort your skin like an astronaut's face in a wind-tunnel. It's actually sort of fun to watch your skin ripple and flow like water and they dry your hands in significantly less time. I still found myself finishing the job by wiping my hands on my pants.

The Dyson Airblade (left) is the world’s first touch-free hand dryer that actually works. The pressurized air is released through very thin apertures in a sheet of air that "wipes" water from hands in about 12 seconds.

The Airblade has two hand-sized apertures that blow room-temperature air by using a digital motor that has no heating element (thus being more cost effective as well). The hot air from conventional hand dryers not only dries out your skin but also sends bacteria-laden air into the immediate vicinity. The Dyson uses an anti-microbial coating and a Hepa filter, so the expelled air is clean and the dryer surface is germ-free.

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