Inventors improve the quality of life the world over.



Sir James Dyson, CBE is a British industrial designer. He is best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, which works on the principle of cyclonic separation. His other inventions include the Ballbarrow.


Dyson studied furniture design and interior design at the Royal College of Art (1966-1970) before moving into engineering. His net worth is said to be just over a £1 billion [1]. In 1997 he wrote Against The Odds: An Autobiography co-authored by Giles Coren. ISBN 0-75280-981-4



James Dyson  


Sir James Dyson





The Sea Truck, Dyson's first product, was launched in 1970 whilst he was in the Royal College of Art. Sales of the Sea Truck amount to $500 million. The Ballbarrow, a modified version of a wheelbarrow however using a ball to replace the wheel, was launched. Dyson remained with the idea of a ball and also invented the Trolleyball which was a trolley that launched boats. He then designed the Wheelboat which could travel at speeds of 64km/h on both land and water.





Dyson originally had the idea of using cyclonic separation to create a vacuum cleaner that wouldn't lose suction as it picked up dirt in the late 1970s. He also thought of a vacuum cleaner that could do this after he found the spray-finishing room's air filter for the Ballbarrow was regularly becoming clogged with particles. He made 5172 prototypes before launching the 'G-Force' cleaner in 1983, launching it through catalogue sales in Japan, in bright pink, with a selling price of £2000 (British Equivalent). He finally obtained his first U.S. patent on the idea in 1986 (U.S. Patent 4,593,429). Let's face it, James has a thing for canny airflow devices.


After failing to sell his invention to the major manufacturers, Dyson set up his own manufacturing company, which now outsells many of the companies that rejected his idea, becoming one of the most popular brands in the United Kingdom. In early 2005 it was reported that Dyson cleaners had become the market leaders in the United States by value (though not by number of units sold).




Cyclonic separation



Dyson's breakthrough in the UK market, more than 10 years after the initial idea, was through a TV advertising campaign that emphasized that, unlike its rivals, it did not require the continuing purchase of replacement bags. At that time, the UK market for disposable cleaner bags was £100m. The slogan of 'say goodbye to the bag' proved more attractive to the buying public than a previous emphasis on the suction efficiency that its technology delivers. Ironically, the previous step change in domestic vacuum cleaner design had been the introduction of the disposable bag - users being prepared to pay extra for the convenience of dustless emptying.


Following his success the other major manufacturers began to market their own bagless vacuum cleaners. Dyson sued Hoover UK for patent infringement and won (around $5 million in damages). Dyson dedicated two decades of his life to improving and marketing vacuum cleaners. Recently, his manufacturing plant moved from Malmesbury in the UK to Malaysia, partly for economic reasons and partly because of difficulty acquiring land for expansion. Eight hundred people lost their jobs. The company's headquarters and research facilities remain in Malmesbury.


Dyson later stated that due to the cost savings from transferring production to Malaysia he was able to invest in R&D at Malmesbury. Dyson currently employs more people in the UK than he did before the transfer of manufacturing to Malaysia.


In 2005 Dyson added the wheel ball from his Ballbarrow into a vacuum cleaner.


Dyson is outspoken on the subjects of design, engineering and innovation, although his success is arguably due equally to astute marketing and manufacturing than to any of those.




a) Dyson patent filing, b) Tokyo Shibauru patent filing 1981





Tokyo Shibaura Electric, Japan, developed a nearly identical idea of a bladeless desktop fan in 1981, though it is was never manufactured.

Documents at the Intellectual Property Office, formerly the Patent Office, indicate that Dyson submitted its application for a worldwide patent last year after the IPO ruled that its initial design was too similar to the Japanese invention. The Dyson version, "cannot be considered novel or cannot be considered to involve an inventive step", the initial ruling from the IPO suggested.

Patents expire after 20 years, but after that date they can be submitted by a different person or company provided that they have been improved upon.

Dyson's most recent patent applications, which are still pending, have been changed to highlight a key design feature of the Air Multiplier: a Coanda surface. This is the aerofoil ramp over which the air is pushed out of the ring of the fan. Because of the angle of the Coanda surface, the air sucks in surrounding air into the air flow, creating a smooth and powerful blast of air for any office worker using the fan.

A "bladeless" fan blows air from a ring with no blades. Its blades are safely hidden in its base. Fan blades send bursts of air while the bladeless fan sends a smooth breeze.

The air comes in via the base unit containing a fan. It is then sent up into a ring and comes out specially shaped slit all around the ring where it passes over a shape like that of an aircraft wing. The negative pressure formed sucks more air through the ring. The air coming out of the ring drags even more air from around the ring. There is fifteen times the airflow coming out of the ring as goes into the base. The industrial designer named his fan the air multiplier.

Dyson sued Chinese companies because they began selling bladeless fans for much less than he was. The Chinese responded that the patent was not new, having already been invented and its patent expired after 20 years. That will not be the case if the improvement patent is granted - but then that depends if the Chinese version on sale incorporate the Dyson improvements.


A fan with no blades sounds impossible. Well, there is a fan of sorts in the base of the unit, but it's off limits to users because it's totally enclosed. So, technically, it is not a bladeless fan. More accurately it is a ducted fan.

According to Sir James, there's a motor in the bottom that powers a turbo-charged impeller. It's essentially a 3-D fan that gives a good combination of flow and pressure. According to Dyson, the air this powerful little fan creates is pushed up into that round loop at the top - also known as the 'loop amplifier' - which splits the flow in two and pushes it through the loop and out a 1.3 millimeter (about .05 inches) slit, or annulus, all along the back. This process creates a jet stream that sucks in air from the back and sides, creating a very powerful and smooth flow of air to cool the kids and animals with no danger of injury. 

Dyson stumbled on the idea when he noticed greater airflow being created by the extra air that was getting sucked into Dyson Airblade hand dryer. "It was an interesting principle," recalls the vacuum cleaner maestro. "I thought, 'let's develop this.'" So, he and his team decided to apply some of that process into the new 'fan.' Besides the obvious safety issues and the powerful airflow ("about 119 gallons a second," says Dyson), what are some of the other advantages of the air multiplier?

"The air it delivers is very smooth, like a nice breeze on your face," explains Dyson. "The blades on conventional fans chop up the air, which kind of slaps you in a rather unpleasant way and one of the main reasons people don't like to sit in front of fans." 

We're not sure many people are going to notice the difference between a conventional fan and the air multiplier in terms of the actual steadiness of the air stream, but we'll let you know if more than a half day with the thing reveals more on that particular feature. We did hear some slight buffeting in our ears with our conventional fan versus the Air Multiplier, but we're not sure it's a deal breaker for our standard, bladed fans, especially when the 10-inch model costs $300.


The lack of blades also means the Air Multiplier doesn't need to be cleaned or dusted externally, but may coke up internally. We also like that it has a 'dimmer' type switch instead of the usual slow, medium, and fast settings on conventional fans. This means you can set the intensity of the airflow to exactly what you need.







In 2002 Dyson envisioned a realisation of the illusions depicted in the lithographs of Dutch artist M.C. Escher. Engineer Derek Phillips was able to accomplish the task after a year of work, creating a water sculpture in which the water appears to flow up to the tops of four ramps arranged in a square, before cascading to the bottom of the next ramp. The creation titled Wrong Garden, was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show in the spring of 2003. The illusion is accomplished with water containing air bubbles pumped through a chamber underneath the transparent glass ramps to a slit at the top from which the bulk of the water cascades down. This makes it appear that the water is flowing up, when actually a small amount of water diverted from the slit at the top flows back down the ramps in a thin layer.


Quotes:    "I just want things to work properly."







Dyson could have launched the DC06 and heralded it as the first robotic vacuum cleaner. It has three onboard computers, 2,000 electronic components, 27 separate circuit boards and 70 sensory devices. As robots go, it's highly advanced. But James wanted one that cleans properly and guides itself more logically than a human would. And he was prepared to wait.






Thus, sixteen years and nearly $47 million in the making, Dyson's unveiled its first robot vacuum cleaner: the 360 Eye. The company says it's packing more cleaning power than any other robot vacuum currently on the market, but you'll have probably noted that such improvements has also made it a fair bit taller than incumbents like iRobot's Roomba. The WiFi-connected vacuum will arrive alongside a smartphone app that'll allow you to schedule sessions for when you're not at home yourself: it'll clean up your mess for up to 20 minutes before returning (autonomously, of course) to charge. Being Dyson, though, it's all about the engineering decisions made inside. 

Dyson's reckons its new robot challenger solves some of the major issues that hamper robot vacuums: the 360 eye uses cyclone technology alongside its own energy-efficient motor which can apparently separate dust and dirt - meaning it can suck up unwanted particles as small as 0.5 microns. It's namesake, the 'eye' is made up of a collection of infrared sensors and a panoramic lens with a 360-degree camera that apparently "sees" your house in its entirety and plans its cleaning route accordingly and efficiently. It updates where it's been and can even triangulate where it is at any point, hopefully ensuring that it'll get back to the recharging dock when it's done.

Along the base, a nylon and carbon-fiber brush bar runs across the entire machine, and Dyson reckons this does a good enough job (alongside all that suction power), to sidestep the need for any side-sweepers along the edges. Oh yeah, it's also got army-styled caterpillar treads that the vacuum maker reckons will ensure it maintains its speed across all surfaces and small obstacles: like, say, rugs. Rather than hash the keys on the robot itself, the aforementioned smartphone app (iOS and Android), can be used to tweak settings and cleaning schedules.




The technology used in the humble robot vacuum cleaner, is not that far removed from proposals to vacuum plastic from the 5 major ocean gyres. Sir James has proposed a river barge using hydrocyclonic separation, that does not need robotic navigation because it is virtually tethered to a river bank. A simpler version of such proposals is actually functioning in Baltimore Harbor, where a water wheel and solar powered river cleaner, called Mr Trash, sifts around 2.5 tons of waste a day, helping to keep the North Atlantic clean. A United Nations report from 2014 puts ocean plastic garbage at an astonishing 270,000 tons. This waste kills sea turtles and albatross by the thousands.



Sir James Dyson calls it "high performing robot vacuum - a genuine labor-saving device." Prime Minister Shinzo Abe encourages more Japanese women to enter the workplace, it seems more home-cleaning robots are entering homes to pick up the housework slack. Bang on cue the 360 Eye goes on sale first in Japan in the Spring of 2015, with Sir James launching the robot in the middle of Tokyo. The rest of the world can expect to see it later in the year for about ¥100,000 ($950).

The number of robotic-cleaner users in Japan has increased rapidly, Seed Planning data show. There were 260,000 units sold in 2010 and 380,000 in 2012. There are expected to be 550,000 sold this year, 720,000 in 2016 and 900,000 in 2018. Worldwide sales of robot cleaners have reached 8 million units.

In trying to catch up with the Roomba, Japanese electronics companies have been developing robot cleaners with unique functions. Sharp Corp.’s Cocorobo has voice communications, while Toshiba Corp.’s Torneo Robo automatically dumps dust into a box built into the charging dock.

The Dyson 360 Eye gets its name from a 360-degree panoramic vision system that it uses to recognize obstacles and navigate around a room.




Dyson's unique design vacuum cleaners




BBC notice of Dyson's water sculpture Wrong Garden with photos and diagram.

Engineering the Difference Dyson's Richard Dimbleby Lecture in 2004

Dyson company web site.

Dyson(UK) official UK web site.

Blogs Japan rea ltime 2014 robot-cleaners-enter-japanese-homes-as-women-enter-workplace











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Autonomous robotic ship, artificial intelligence


The ultimate Robot Boat. The Dragonfly mine hunting concept uses an advanced SWASH hull as the platform to reduce risk to humans as navies around the world clear WWII mines and help to keep important choke points around the world clear from obstruction. A successful expedition could pave the way for improved safety at sea.





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