First look: Dyson Handchopper

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Flew out of MSP today and saw that the bathrooms are fitted with the new Dyson airblade hypervelocity hand dryers. I tried it but I can't say I'm very impressed. The first problem is that you have to stick your hands up to the wrists in this gizmo which looks like it might be some sort hand guillotine that Saudi Arabia would use to punish you for dryness theft. That would be offputting enough in any case, but coupled with the name Airblade I must admit I felt a bit squeamish.

Anyway, I screwed up my courage and shoved my hands in, which brings us to problem number two: the opening is really small, so you tend to bang your hands on the sides on the way in or the way out. This sort of defeats the one of the major advantages of an air hand drier, which is to say that you don't have to touch surfaces which might have been contaminated by the grubby fingers of those with less obsessive-compulsive washing habits than your own. Unfortunately, the small orifices makes the exercise of drying your hands kind of like playing an adult-sized version of Operation The first time I tried it, I touched the sides on the way in. No buzzer went off, but I decided it was best to rewash my hands and give it another shot anyway.

I will say that the Airblade lives up to its name in one respect: it produces a quite forceful blast of (extremely cold) air. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to get your hands very dry and after I pulled them out the tips of my fingers were still dripping water. Part of the problem here seems to be that they want you to pull your hands out slowly, which is difficult to do smoothly without touching the sides (see above) and in my eagerness to preserve my fingers I may have gone too quickly, resulting in suboptimal moisture removal. Even so, I still managed to bang the back of my hands on way out, producing the need to wash my hands yet again. This time I just wiped them on my pants.


In case you don't want to go trekking halfway across the country to try such a newfangled device again, they also have them in the restrooms at the new Academy of Sciences in SF.

The AoS dryers seem to have been made by a different manufacturer and I don't recall encountering any of the problems that you mentioned when trying to use them. (The openings were bigger, and I think the air was a pleasant temperature to boot.)

So...I think the problems are more with the execution than the concept. When the HMS Beagle grows up enough to get interested in science-y type things, it'll be worth a visit!

We also have those Dyson dryers here in Switzerland - and similar to my Dyson vacuum cleaner at home, the product is not well thought through (this is another story...)

I once even lost my finger-ring using this dyson dryer, while pulling out my hands, the strong blast of air just blew it away :-)

As MSP is my home airport - i've encountered these more than a few times - I just think they have the same flaw that all air dryers have. They dry with blasts of air. Which is why I generally bring a small towel with me on trips (hopping on a plane in 6 hours).

On one side you do not have to touch any potentially contaminated surfaces but on the other side it does blast lots of potentially contaminated air with airborne germs on your just cleaned hands.

For high-force hand drying, I far prefer the Xlerator ( over the Airblade, precisely because of the speed with which you need to pull your hands our of the Airblade.

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