/ Dyson. Genius or Fraud?

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Rob Exile Ward 16:42 Thu

I'm not qualified to judge, though he does seem to have made an awful lot of money blowing hot air around.

Has he finally come up against the limitations of his engineering skills? 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50004184

Teslas seem to work OK. Is he more a Clive Sinclair than an Henry Ford or Issigonis perhaps?

Genuinely interested in hearing people's opinions, especially engineers!

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wercat 16:54 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

So Alan Sugar should buy it up and make it viable?  Mind you Sugar had quite some respect for Sinclair and did not force the hardest deal he could because of that.

Perhaps if Dyson has genuine innovative ideas they can licence them to bigger manufacturers? Like ARM in Cambridge sprung out of Clive Sinclair's rivals/alumni

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wintertree 17:03 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Technically I think he’s got some very good motor technology but it’s a big stretch from there to a functional electric car company.

It’s a mystery to me how they ever decided to try and build cars rather than licensing their motor technology.

My crude guess is that 90% of making a profit selling cars has nothing to do with motor technology.  Tesla are still finding that out a decade or more later.

Also, a technologist like dyson may well fall in love with their awesome motor, but you don’t actually have to be very good with your motor to make an EV that is streets ahead of other things. Batteries, battery thermal management, vehicle integration, getting electric power steering that doesn’t feel like crap* – that sort of thing needs work that isn’t related to Dyson’s core competencies. 

* The power steering is the only part of our Leaf that I dislike.  I actually despise it.  The only nice electric power steering car I’ve driven was a McLaren.

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Lusk 17:17 Thu
In reply to wintertree:

I was wondering about EPS the other day.

Is it purely electro-mech?

Wouldn't fluid, driven by electric motor be OK?

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Dave Garnett 17:27 Thu
In reply to wintertree: 

> * The power steering is the only part of our Leaf that I dislike.  I actually despise it.  The only nice electric power steering car I’ve driven was a McLaren.

Jaguar EPAS is pretty good but they tend to lack some of the other Leaf features. 

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BnB 17:34 Thu
In reply to wintertree:

> * The power steering is the only part of our Leaf that I dislike.  I actually despise it.  The only nice electric power steering car I’ve driven was a McLaren.

Even the steering in the McLaren is a bit crap. Journalists praise the EPAS in the latest Porsches but they do admit, and I can concur from past and current ownership, that the electrical rack isn't a patch on the feelsome hydraulic helm of old. If you ran over a crisp packet, you could tell the flavour of the snacks.

As for Dyson, he's a superb entrepreneur but, like all supremely confident geniuses, he over-reached with the car idea. It was a monumental error of judgement and hubris. No doubt his error will bring a lot of pleasure to many here. But that doesn't mean he isn't brilliant at selling appliances.

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Eric9Points 17:36 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

He's neither but probably endowed with a great deal of common sense.

There is a massive jump in complexity from vacuums to cars. Even the process of qualification i.e making sure they're safe, is vastly more demanding for the automotive sector. He and his company would be out of their depth and would have to use a third party for a lot of the design and development, let alone the manufacture.

I imagine he went through the sums and realised it just wouldn't work from where he was starting from.

The other thing to consider, as I recall they were hoping to sell into China, is that there are difficulties in doing this.

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Hat Dude 17:46 Thu
In reply to wercat:

> So Alan Sugar should buy it up and make it viable? 

The last thing the world needs is an Amstrad car!

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wintertree 17:47 Thu
In reply to Lusk:

> Is it purely electro-mech?

Yup.

> Wouldn't fluid, driven by electric motor be OK?

Presumably indistinguishable but it’d need a big motor or a big hydraulic accumulator and would eat into the energy economy figures - which matter more immediately to the driver than in an ICE vehicle whilst batteries are so limited.

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wintertree 17:51 Thu
In reply to BnB:

> Journalists praise the EPAS in the latest Porsches but they do admit, and I can concur from past and current ownership, that the electrical rack isn't a patch on the feelsome hydraulic helm of old.

Wish I could find out.  Come the spring I’m going to look at circa 15 year old Caymans but their electric offering is well beyond my red line unless business takes off faster than planned.

I don’t know much about Dyson’s personality but runaway success over the established same-old does seem to immunise visionary tech sorts against listening to the advice of other smart people or indeed against recognising that they might just have a sound basis for their opinions.  I get how one ends up like that - it’s surprising how often other people can be wrong... 

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anthonylewis 17:59 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

This is a cash and investment heavy industry. Comparing vw (admittedly a giant) - revenue of circa £200B against Dyson at circa £3.5B. The ability to spend on research and development, let alone make investments in the supply chain and manufacturing, will be night and day between the two. 

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David Riley 18:00 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I was aware of Clive Sinclair very early. His matchbox radio and IC10 amplifier.  He did mail order from magazine adverts.  All very low cost .  I wanted to do that, and did for a while.  Dyson went for quality. Giving up on electric cars is probably a sign that very good, cheap ones are going to be pouring out of China soon.  Hopefully they will not be taxed entering the UK.

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In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

No one has so much as mentioned the dreaded B-word (for which he's a strong advocate). Which is why I've been boycotting his 'goods' (or rather, shoddy gimmicks) for many months now. I recently bought a superb, great value, American VAX vacuum cleaner, for example.

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BnB 18:04 Thu
In reply to wintertree:

> > Journalists praise the EPAS in the latest Porsches but they do admit, and I can concur from past and current ownership, that the electrical rack isn't a patch on the feelsome hydraulic helm of old.

> Wish I could find out.  Come the spring I’m going to look at circa 15 year old Caymans but their electric offering is well beyond my red line unless business takes off faster than planned.

You'll struggle to find a 15-year-old one. The car was launched as a 2006 model. I had a 2007 Cayman S and, although not even in my top ten past cars for power, it remains the most rewarding driving experience of my life with steering to die for. It was a better all-round car than my current GT4, although by no means its match on a track.

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jkarran 18:12 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Neither. Competent marketeer who followed trends in other markets and reused existing ideas to steal a march in his chosen field.

The potential cost savings and efficiency gains to be in motors were modest, a good one is no basis for a new car company. The battery is the key and I'd guess he's failed to secure favorable reliable access ahead of Chinese domestic makers.

Jk

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Blunderbuss 19:39 Thu
In reply to jkarran:

Anyone who backs Brexit automatically removes themselves from being considered a genius imo... 

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Jon Greengrass 20:16 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Ball barrow was his only great invention, in fact has he  invented anything since?

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John2 20:17 Thu
In reply to jkarran:

He had bought a firm which was developing solid state lithium ion batteries, which would be lighter and run cooler than the ones available at the moment. Possibly it was bringing these batteries to market which proved problematic.

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Deadeye 21:06 Thu
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Two issues:

1. Dyson and electric cars.  Great marketeer; some good design innovations.  He's worked out that he's too far behind ( like way, way behind) on the battery car gig.  He can't just leapfrog all of the leaders with a couple of £bn.

2. Dyson and Sinclair.  No contest.  Sinclair: first digital watch; first low cost calculator; first low cost computer; father of personal computing. Dyson: funky plastic mouldings over pretty standard electric motors. Also, Dyson = unforgiveable knob; Sinclair = forgivable arse

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David Riley 21:41 Thu
In reply to Deadeye:

Dyson was only successful because people were happy to spend ten times the normal price.

Not with cars they won't.

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Yanis Nayu 08:05 Fri
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Genius at marketing; fraud at engineering. 

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Michael Hood 08:25 Fri
In reply to BnB:

> the electrical rack isn't a patch on the feelsome hydraulic helm of old. If you ran over a crisp packet, you could tell the flavour of the snacks.

That's a lovely bit of phraseology and imagery. Have you thought about writing car reviews?

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dunc56 08:33 Fri
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

Wasn't the big thing the cyclone technology and not the motors ? Or have I fallen for the hype ? 

Serious question - please educate me. 

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daWalt 08:54 Fri
In reply to dunc56:

dyson's crappy cyclone vacuum cleaners (yes they were crap) where based on miniaturised (and pastel coloured plastic) version of decades old technology used in heavy industry. vortex separators are great for collecting particles of reasonable mass, like grains of sand. much less good for very fine dusts that can be held in suspension very long in air.

the fact that he tried to patent the "cyclone" immediately flagged him up as a tw*t all those years ago. 

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tlouth7 09:07 Fri
In reply to daWalt:

> the fact that he tried to patent the "cyclone" immediately flagged him up as a tw*t all those years ago. 

In his defence patenting a novel use of an existing technology is a big part of the business of invention; there is nothing new under the sun.

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daWalt 09:46 Fri
In reply to tlouth7:

can you patent use of a technology, not the technology itself?

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Pete Pozman 09:52 Fri
In reply to Michael Hood:

> That's a lovely bit of phraseology and imagery. Have you thought about writing car reviews?

Note the internal rhymes/near rhymes: rack...patch....packet...snacks... and the hard/soft consonant contrasts/alliteration: "electrical rack"; "feelsome hydraulic helm of old"; poetry!

Post edited at 09:53
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David Riley 10:08 Fri
In reply to daWalt:

Patents are a really bad idea.  They only enable the wrong people to do wrong things.

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Ridge 10:19 Fri
In reply to daWalt:

> dyson's crappy cyclone vacuum cleaners (yes they were crap)

I always chuckle at the huge pile of dead dysons at our local recycling centre.

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john arran 10:30 Fri
In reply to daWalt:

> can you patent use of a technology, not the technology itself?

You can patent a substantially new application of an existing technology if it helps achieve a new goal. So, for instance, the designers of the first ever wheelie-bag or wheelie-bin should have been able to patent their idea even though the wheel itself was not new.

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Rob Exile Ward 10:47 Fri
In reply to David Riley:

That's an interesting observation. As someone who has 'invented' a few software solutions which I have considered patenting, on balance I think I probably agree with you.

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daWalt 11:39 Fri
In reply to john arran:

I see what you mean, I guess most things are a conglomeration of many technologies.

it's a long while ago, but I was under the impression that dyson's application was chucked out; although he may well have umpteen patents on different bits and pieces of the overall thing. I only picked this nugget of gossip up because at the time I was looking at vortex separators in hydraulics.

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Martin W 11:47 Fri
In reply to dunc56:

> Wasn't the big thing the cyclone technology and not the motors ? Or have I fallen for the hype ?

As others have pointed out, the 'cyclone' technology wasn't new, although its application in domestic vacuum cleaners was novel.  (Ironically, the bagless vacuum cleaner was an even older idea, in that all vacuum cleaners were originally bagless until someone had the idea of using a disposable air-permeable bag to trap the dirt and allow it to be disposed of relatively cleanly.)

His "digital" motors are nothing of the sort: they're simply brushless DC motors - the kind that use electronics to switch the direction of the current through the windings rather a sliding contact commutator - and they too had been around for some time before Dyson put one in a vacuum cleaner .  I have one in my cordless drill.  They're neat, but not his idea.

I think Yanis Nayu summed it up perfectly, and Deadeye pretty much nailed the comparison between Dyson and Sinclair.

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Jon Greengrass 13:05 Fri
In reply to Ridge:

> I always chuckle at the huge pile of dead dysons at our local recycling centre.

Only they are not dead they just need serviced. My DCO4 is over 15 years old, it was retired from cleaning the house in 2013 because my other half took a dislike to it. I still use it all the time to clean the car and clear up in the garage.  Its a messy job to clean the filter and was the very fine dust that sticks to the cyclone, but once done they clean better than any other vaccum.

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Toerag 13:23 Fri
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> As someone who has 'invented' a few software solutions which I have considered patenting

Have you regretted not patenting them?

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Rob Exile Ward 13:26 Fri
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

'Its a messy job to clean the filter' Hmm, I don't remember that being part of any advertising promotion. 'Dyson - suck like [insert porn star name here] so long as you don't mind getting dirty'

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overdrawnboy 17:27 Fri
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

A true patriot who shipped his manufacturing operations to China nearly 20 years ago. If his cars were to be as durable as his cleaners then it's good that he folded the operation sooner than later.

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The New NickB 21:48 Fri
In reply to BnB:

> You'll struggle to find a 15-year-old one. The car was launched as a 2006 model.

Porsche are under the impression that they launched it in 2005, Autotrader has a few 2005 models.

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freeflyer 22:01 Fri
In reply to Michael Hood:

> That's a lovely bit of phraseology and imagery. Have you thought about writing car reviews?

Great writing, shame about the marque though. No matter how fantastic the engineering, a Porsche is just not a looker. Still, each to his own I suppose.

On the question of the OP, I equate Dyson more with Steve Jobs; great understanding of what design really means, and how to to create a high end in a market that has none.

Buona notte.
 

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BnB 22:03 Fri
In reply to The New NickB:

> Porsche are under the impression that they launched it in 2005, Autotrader has a few 2005 models.

The past is further away than I thought

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In reply to freeflyer:

Dyson simply could not be more different from Steve Jobs. I don't even know where to begin on this, it's so wildly off-beam, so I won't bother.

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Reach>Talent 22:09 Fri
In reply to Martin W:

> As others have pointed out, the 'cyclone' technology wasn't new, although its application in domestic vacuum cleaners was novel.  (Ironically, the bagless vacuum cleaner was an even older idea, in that all vacuum cleaners were originally bagless until someone had the idea of using a disposable air-permeable bag to trap the dirt and allow it to be disposed of relatively cleanly.)

> His "digital" motors are nothing of the sort: they're simply brushless DC motors - the kind that use electronics to switch the direction of the current through the windings rather a sliding contact commutator.

I was under the impression Dyson wasn't using a bog standard brushless motor, aren't they a trifle more cunning than that; a 'reluctance motor'? (I am not claiming any particular expertise in the area).

I always felt Dyson was a genius at fixing problems largely of his own creation...

- New ball vacuum, helps improve manoeuvring which wasn't an issue till some idiot made the thing weigh 5kg too much with the ergonomics of a bad road accident.

- Super efficient second stage filter, which traps all the dust let by after we shortened the cyclone and crippled the efficiency to make the thing more compact.

- Safety cap over the handle that stops you gouging an eye out. Thanks Dyson that wasn't a problem till you modelled the end of the handle on a bloody apple corer.

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Martin W 08:34 Sat
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> I was under the impression Dyson wasn't using a bog standard brushless motor, aren't they a trifle more cunning than that; a 'reluctance motor'? (I am not claiming any particular expertise in the area).

My understanding is that he tried a switched reluctance motor (SRM) in one of his early handheld vacuums (I think it was the one that was trumpeted as having a motor that rotated at more than 100,000rpm) but reverted to traditional brushless motors after that.  (Reference here: https://chargedevs.com/features/a-closer-look-at-switched-reluctance-motors/).  Again, the SRM wasn't his idea but its use was novel.

Another Dyson marketing crime was touting a brushless motor as "low carbon".  As in: it didn't have carbon brushes.  That is emphatically not what people expect the phrase "low carbon" to mean when talking about a source of mechanical power.

I believe that the Tesla Model 3 uses a permanent magnet SRM.  It seems likely that Dyson was aiming to use an SRM in his EV but as we know the plug has been pulled on that.  Bloomberg wasn't impressed:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-10-11/dyson-s-expensive-road-from-electric-to-invisible-cars

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L wbo2 08:45 Sat
In reply to John2: Battery tech is advancing quite quickly.  He may have bought a battery company, but he may not have bought the right company, or they just got leap frogged and become a dead investment.

David RIley: Certainly patents get very abused and overused. 

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MonkeyPuzzle 10:19 Sat
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Yeah, apparently no what he tried, all the prototypes either sucked or blew big time.

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AllanMac 14:26 Sat
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Dysons really suck.

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In reply to AllanMac:

Actually, they often don't suck very well, which is worse than sucking.

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john arran 16:49 Sat
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Actually, they often don't suck very well, which is worse than sucking.

What could suck more than a sucker that sucks at sucking?

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AllanMac 18:18 Sat
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Actually, they often don't suck very well, which is worse than sucking.

They dust make a Miele of it, don't they.

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RomTheBear 07:42 Mon
In reply to BnB:

> If you ran over a crisp packet, you could tell the flavour of the snacks.

Your name is Jeremy Clarkson and I claim my £5

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Neil Williams 08:58 Mon
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

He's a marketing genius (like Steve Jobs was, and like Apple are now losing the trick on).  Most of his kit is rubbish compared with other simpler options.  The most stupid piece of his design is those hands-inside hand dryers which are very hard not to make contact with if you have big and non-steady hands, and which have a closed body to trap dirty, infected water at the bottom.

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Neil Williams 08:59 Mon
In reply to dunc56:

> Wasn't the big thing the cyclone technology and not the motors ? Or have I fallen for the hype ? 

> Serious question - please educate me. 

It's an interesting technology, but fundamentally my Henry was cheaper and does the job better.  There is the issue of the EU ban on powerful cleaners (which is silly as most people don't use them all day and so it's decidedly de-minimis) but realistically the conventional option just seems to work better.

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mullermn 09:18 Mon
In reply to Neil Williams:

Really? Of every Dyson product to criticise you’ve chosen the one that I would say is the strongest. Genuinely different to anything that came before (in my experience anyway) and about the only dryer that actually works. 

In fact the reason that they collect water at all is because they actually work, unlike a standard dryer where the process is to stand in front of it until bored and then walk off shaking your hands dry. 

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Jon Read 09:52 Mon
In reply to mullermn:

In my experience they just seem to spray bits of that puddle up into my face. I think they are generally too powerful for the size of the 'run off' underneath your hands.

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Neil Williams 10:24 Mon
In reply to mullermn:

> Really? Of every Dyson product to criticise you’ve chosen the one that I would say is the strongest. Genuinely different to anything that came before (in my experience anyway) and about the only dryer that actually works. 

No, they are utter garbage.  The newer design which is more conventional with two blades of air underneath actually does work (but is probably pricier than other options).

A dryer which I have to be careful not to accidentally touch has no hygiene benefit at all.  It might dry my hands, but it also transfers particles of urine and faeces that others who haven't washed properly have transferred to it as they have touched it.

> In fact the reason that they collect water at all is because they actually work, unlike a standard dryer where the process is to stand in front of it until bored and then walk off shaking your hands dry. 

To be fair to Dyson he's a disruptor - other manufacturers have since adopted the higher power fan and those ones are decidedly better than his and no doubt cheaper too.

Post edited at 10:25
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wintertree 10:40 Mon
In reply to Neil Williams:

> To be fair to Dyson he's a disruptor - other manufacturers have since adopted the higher power fan and those ones are decidedly better than his and no doubt cheaper too.

”Disruptor” is the right word.  My morning download at work used to be a few precious minuets of silence to sit and think.  Now it’s punctuated by the whine of high speed motors running the fancy hand dryers.

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67hours 11:33 Mon
In reply to mullermn:

Actually I think the product format wasn't Dyson's invention at all - there was a Mitsubishi Jet Towel many years before:
https://gizmodo.com/mitsubishi-jet-towel-vs-dyson-airblade-pre-game-trash-299082

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galpinos 12:03 Mon
In reply to mullermn:

> Really? Of every Dyson product to criticise you’ve chosen the one that I would say is the strongest. Genuinely different to anything that came before (in my experience anyway) and about the only dryer that actually works. 

Mitsubishi had a cold powerful air jet dryer than blew the water off your hands in the 90s (Jet Towel I think?) and the Xlerator dryers that look like a copy of Dysons pre-date the Dyson Air blade by about 5yrs I think. I'm no fan of Dyson but you can't deny his ability to sell/market his products.

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Rigid Raider 12:56 Mon
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Dyson is both genius and fraud; genius because he realised that Humans love things that give the maximum reward for the minimum effort so seeing the dust you collect makes people feel good about the vac. Yet a simple Henry does the same job. 

Fraud because Dyson vacs are rubbish; noisy, over-complex, heavy, wasteful to the planet with all the injection-moulded bits they require, over-complex and unreliable. My local appliance repair shop is packed full with a "crowd" of sorry-looking Dysons all awaiting spares.

No harm to the man; he's now so wealthy that he has a permanent staff of over 50 to run his mansion in Gloucestershire. In that way he's a modern take on the Victorian owner of a stately home funded from the profits from a mill or a ranch or plantation in India or Africa.

Post edited at 12:59
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