Friday, December 28, 2007

A Critique of the Dyson® AirBlade

I was killing some time at Logan Airport the other day, waiting for my brother's delayed flight to arrive. I had a drink at the bar and (consequently) went to the restroom. After handling my business I noticed something rather attractive on the wall. It was the new Dyson® AirBlade hand-dryer. I had seen some pictures of it on a few other blogs, but was still a little surprised to actually see it in front of me. Needless to say I washed my hands (quickly, as the anticipation of using this thing was akin to a child at 5:00AM on Christmas morning waiting for his parents to wake up) and scooted over to the Dyson®. The following are the takeaways (both good and bad) from my experience.

We'll start off with the good, because I'm a positive guy

  • The device is attractive, a quality that sets apart from most other hand dryers.
  • It uses technology similar to that used in industrial settings (air knives can be used to remove moisture from bottled beverage containers)
  • Its automatic…which is good

Now a few not-so-good notes

  • The device is appropriate for a certain height person. If you are too short you need to cock your elbows to get your hand in the slot.
  • The air-knife is not as powerful as I expected. Thus when compared to a traditional hand dryer, I did not notice an improvement in the dryness of my hand or the time it took to get that way.
  • However, the air knife is powerful enough that its initial burst can cause your hand to contact the appliance. One could argue that all of the hands that use this are freshly clean, but there is still something about touching things in a public restroom that seems unclean.
  • Not incredibly intuitive. This is admitted by Dyson itself by their inclusion of a diagram on top of the device. I don't know who said it first, but they said it best: "Labels/Instructions are indications of design failure. "


  • Make the user interface with the device through the front as opposed to the top. This would mean that shorter people do not need to reach over anything.
  • When you lift your hands from your sides, your palms naturally face each other, not the floor. The design should reflect this, NOT require the user to adapt to the device.

Overall, I was disappointed. What was a great opportunity to redesign something that has been ugly and inefficient for years was squandered by designing something that was pretty and inefficient.

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