The Dyson Airblade Tap – Innovation or Hinderance?
The Dyson Airblade tap, Innovation or Unnecessary NPD?
What have those clever designers at Dyson come up with now? The Airblade tap is the next evolutionary stage in Dyson’s commercial washroom range following on from the highly successful Dyson Airblade hand dryer.
The Dyson Airblade hand dryer has been hugely successful, it literally turned the ‘hand drying’ experience upside down. Dyson combined the ‘hands in’ concept that has been fairly prevalent in Japan and Korea for almost 20 years, with an incredibly high powered Dyson digital motor, the result was the a totally new washroom experience for users in Western markets.
Dyson Airblade hand dryer
So how does the Airblade ‘tap’ work?
The Dyson Airblade tap is a ‘tap’ and ‘hand dryer in one. Once your hands are positioned under the sensor it will automatically commence the water flow, once your hands are wet the integrated circuitry will become aware and activate the hand dryer motor. Similar to the Dyson Airblade hand dryer, two high velocity ‘blades’ of air will emit from the taps handlebars. The airflow will continue for 12 seconds, the time period Dyson claim it will take to dry the hands.
Where would the Dyson Airblade tap be suitable for?
In a recent interview with a BBC journalist, James Dyson proclaimed that the Airblade ‘tap’ was suitable for all commercial/public washrooms and may have applications in the home.
Is there any point in the Dyson Airblade Tap?
At £1000 a throw plus considerable extra installation costs there needs to be a pretty good reason for most to buy this product.
For those whom money has little meaning it may be enough that the Airblade tap adds prestige and gadgetry to their washroom, but in reality is the Dyson Airblade tap a mass market product?
New Dyson Airblade tap
Good Reasons for an Airblade tap!
Dyson argue that it is inefficient to wash hands in one place and dry them in another, so the product saves time.
An Airblade tap would also be far more space efficient than installing hand dryers and we see understand this will be appealling to many architects for prestigious and high traffic buildings.
Also the Airblade tap scrapes the water back into the hand wash bowl, which is a more practical solution, as the current Airblade hand dryer tends to leave hand washing waste either on the floor or in the u-bend that is becoming ever more unhygienic. This would therefore create a cleaner,safer and more hygienic washroom environment.
Negatives to the Airblade tap!
On the downside there are a number of practical issues. Building regulations require toilets to have one hand wash station per toilet. In washrooms that experience medium use (100 to 300 per day) the recommendation is to install one conventional dryer for every two hand wash areas or one high speed hand dryer for three or four washbasins. In a heavy use washroom (300 plus per day), multiply by two the number of hand dryers.
So installing a Dyson Airblade taps is clearly going to be a huge expense if you don’t have a ultra high traffic washroom, as you will need to have a tap for every washbasin where as you could manage with only one high speed hand dryers for three to four wash basins!
Imagine the alternative scenario, its half time at a football match or a break in a concert. The washroom is rammed and people are now taking an extra 12 to 15 seconds at the hand wash basin, that’s going to cut down the amount of people who can wash their hands massively which can’t be a good thing for cross infection in crowded areas!
The Airblade tap and hand dryer has other limitations, you can’t change the temperature of the water, which would be important in some environments, and you also can’t choose to have the water flow or drying time for a set number of second, so it high traffic areas you cannot control the flow easily if people are hogging the basins.
We do see the Airblade tap taking off in wealthy office blocks, luxury hotels, high class restaurants and bars. We can also image the Airblade tap/hand dryer in motorway service stations and Airports that are constantly busy but never packed like stadiums as wet floors can be an issue. However for really high traffic areas we think the Airblade tap/hand dryer may be problematic and for most locations, just too much of an investment.
The power of a big brand known for innovation in a new market place should never be underestimated however. You only have to look at the success of the Dyson Airblade hand dryer which in relation to high speed ‘hands under’ hand dryers is difficult to install, is noisy, uses far more energy and costs 3 times as much, but everyone still wants one!
We feel despite the positives, for most locations the Dyson Airblade tap will face many practical issues. In reality the wealthy household market may end up being the best market for this product.