James Dyson’s Latest Invention: Bladeless Fan

Daily News Article   —   Posted on October 23, 2009

Note:  This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

(by Harry Wallop, Telegraph.co.uk) - Sir James Dyson … unveil[ed] his latest invention, The Air Multiplier, a desktop fan which has no blades.

The Air Multiplier promises to be 15 times more efficient than a standard fan, despite its lack of blades.

As well as being more efficient, it “is dead easy to clean,” said Sir James.

The Air Multiplier marks a departure for Sir James, being the first new product category his company has moved into since the creation of the Airblade, a hand dryer that hit the market three years ago.

“I am very proud. We’ve been working on this for four years,” he said.

The gadget will cost £199 and will initially be available in upmarket department stores and design shops, before it is sold via the Argos catalogue next year [Argos is similar to Amazon.com]. This is significantly more expensive than the average price for a standard desk fan with blades, which is £18 in Britain.

However, Dyson is confident that the design – a large ring of plastic on top of a pedestal – and technology is radical enough to persuade people to spend extra on the product.

The Air Multiplier works by sucking in one unit of air at the base, and pushing it out at speed through a thin gap in the fan’s ring. The expelled air is pushed out over an airfoil-shaped ramp (similar in shape the wing of an aeroplane). In doing so, surrounding air is drawn into the air flow, so by the time the cool air hits an office worker’s face, it is the equivalent of 15 units of air.

In all, 405 litres of air are expelled every second.

However, Sir James insists it is not just more efficient than a standard fan – which expels one unit of air for every one taken in – it also creates a far smoother airflow.

“Normal fans chop up the air with the blade, which is very uncomfortable when you are sitting in front of a fan. It buffets you. This is far smoother.”

Dyson hopes that while the market for fans in Britain is relatively small, America, Australia and Japan will snap up the device.

Sir James, who made his fortune and reputation thanks to his bagless vacuum cleaners, confirmed he would gladly work for a Conservative government if they won the general election.

“I am keen to promote engineering and technology in any capacity,” he said, but hinted he might not actually become a minister. Asked if he would sit on the Conservative or cross-benches if he was offered a peerage, he said: “I have always been apolitical.”

The fans will be made in Malaysia, as all of Dyson’s products now are. “But, crucially, they will be exported from Britain,” said Sir James. “We do all our research and development in Wiltshire, and we pay taxes here.”

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Questions

1. What are the benefits of the bladeless fan over a regular fan?

2. Name the two additional products conceived/produced/invented/developed by Sir James Dyson and his company.

3. What is the difference in price (in U.S. dollars) between a standard fan and the bladeless fan in Britain?

4. How does the Dyson company expect to profit from a fan that is so much more expensive than regular fans?

5. Watch the videos under “Resources” below. What do you think of Sir James’ latest innovation and the price?


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Background

ON KNIGHTHOOD:

  • In the past, knighthood was reserved for war heroes, royalty or individuals in the military.
  • Today, Queen Elizabeth awards such titles twice a year on the recommendation of the prime minister to citizens in recognition of exceptional achievements or services to Britain.
  • Under British rules, only British nationals can actually formally receive an honor from the Queen. Awards for non-nationals are honorary and don’t come with the seal of the Crown. Instead of ‘Sir’ at the front of his name, foreigners knighted by the queen have ‘K.B.E. – Knight of the British Empire – after their names.

Read about James Dyson being knighted for his service to business at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/norfolk/6217527.stm.

Resources

Watch a video of Sir James Dyson’s demonstration of the fan: