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A View from John Maeda

The Paperless Bathroom

When Dyson announced the Airblade, a high-velocity hand dryer that could eliminate the need for paper towels, I was looking forward to encountering one.

  • September 24, 2007

I had seen the announcements for the Dyson Airblade and was looking forward to encountering one on a trip somewhere. For a British Design Museum exhibit last year, I selected a Dyson vacuum cleaner, so I am something of a fan of their work. They are sort of the Harley-Davidson of the cleaning industry in my mind.

Maybe five or six years ago, I saw similar high-velocity drying machines from Mitsubishi in Tokyo bathrooms, so I was curious if the Dyson was better. My verdict? Well, I dipped my hands in and pulled them out, expecting them to emerge completely dry. But I read the fine print, and it said I had to slowly remove my hands over a 12-second period. Twelve seconds? Gosh, that seemed long to me as my eyes spied over to the paper-towel dispenser that sat right next to the unit; as to why both systems were available a la Mac-guy/PC-guy TV commercial, it wasn’t totally clear to me. I redipped my hands and cheated a bit by using only 10 seconds, but the experience was definitely a positive one.

In conclusion, I left the bathroom feeling more hip and sanitary than I usually do after an airport-lavatory visit. I think I will have to ask to put these up in the Media Lab most definitely.

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