Vacuum, hand dryers, fans and now the hair dryer. Dyson excels at deconstructing humdrum home appliances, then redesigning them from the inside out. Now the technology and design company has reinvented the appliance that's crucial to morning routines across the world.

There's a reason the design of the hair dryer hasn't changed since 1960. The standard hair dryer does an okay-enough job and would be expensive and laborious to redesign.

Dyson invested $71 million over four years to redesign the hair dryer, according to a press release. The press release says 103 Dyson engineers built 600 prototypes and tested 1,010 miles of human hair. They even built a hair laboratory and say their team purchased $60,000 of real hair so they could test their prototypes to perfection.

The end result? A sleek device that looks unlike anything else out there and is far quieter and lighter than any hair dryer you've used before. It's so quiet, Dyson claims you can even have a conversation while drying your hair -- a grandiose feat that's likely never been accomplished since the device entered homes in 1920.

Now for the not-so-hot news for the everyday blow drier: the price tag. At $399, the Dyson Supersonic is targeted for a upper echelon of consumers and beauty professionals. 

The design

The Supersonic design is distinctly Dyson, but looks nothing like a hair dryer.

If you've seen Dyson's bladeless fan, the Supersonic hair dryer will look familiar. It's a circular piece placed on top of a tubular piece (but it's all one piece.) Pictures of the hair dryer instantly made me think of the otoscope, the tool doctors use to check inside your ears. And really it's not much bigger. 

Dyson also designed three attachments (smoothing nozzle, styling concentrator and diffuser) that attach magnetically to the hair dryer. They remain cool to the touch thanks to what Dyson's calling Heat Shield technology. Engadget described the attachments as having a "double skin, so that while the inner part gets hot, the outer stays cool."

The engineering

Here's what sucks so much about drying your hair: Blow dryers are heavy and awkward. This basic Conair model weighs 1.5 lbs., which might not seem like a lot. But holding 1.5 lbs. of weight in one hand while simultaneously brushing with the other gets tiring. Plus, the motor in most hair dryers is housed in the appliance's nozzle, so the weight is unbalanced.

Dyson moved the motor of their hair dryer to the handle to re-balance its shape, cut down on the weight and reduce arm ache. I couldn't find the exact weight of the product, but the Dyson site and  Gizmodo (whose reporter got an exclusive sneak peek) promise it's far lighter than other hair dryers.

The motor itself is tiny, yet powerful. "It spins up to 110,000 times per minute with an inaudible frequency," Dyson describes in a video about the Supersonic.

You can also say goodbye to cutting your hair out of your dryer. Standard hair dryers suck in air and spit it out, which can lead to snags and clogs. Not the Dyson. "Inside the tiny motor is a little notch, right next to the impeller blades," explains Lance Ulanoff for Mashable, who attended a demo. "If a hair makes its way that far, it gets chopped to bits between the notch and the blades."

The technology

The standard blow dryer simply blows hot air onto your hair, which damages follicles and leaves your hair dull -- especially if you blow dry your hair frequently. The Dyson device automatically monitors the air temperature 20 times a second, then transmits that data to a microchip inside so it can regulate how much heat is being blasted onto your hair.

Ready to bring one home? The Dyson Supersonic launched in Japan this week and will be available for purchase in the United States this fall through its website and exclusively at Sephora.

Published on: Apr 27, 2016
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