I need to vent at an everyday device, the Dyson Airblade (lots of airflow puns rising up out of this one).
Do you recognise the Dyson Airblade? You should, they are drifting up everywhere like strange alters to the god of hygiene. For those of you without such refined tastes in electronic bathroom equipment, the Dyson Airblade is a revolutionary product for hygienically drying your hands in after using the bathroom facilities.
A noble cause and important cause, let me make that clear. I don't dispute the Airblade's goals. From the moment I first saw one several years ago, I thought we were entering a new age in hand-drying technology. I was sure it was a short step before I had my jet-pack, levitating care and self-cloning. Needless to say, such technological fantasies have have yet to arrive.
At least then, with my Airblade, I could hope for an excellent hand-drying experience. Sadly, that is not to be. What is wrong with the Airblade and why should a user experience / human factors designer care? Because the experience sucks. Or is it blows? I'm pretty sure the Airblade does a little of both.
Using the Airblade is deceptively simple, the user inserts their hands in the hand shaped slots and massive torrents of air blast out of the machine to suck/blow the water off your hands. Like "Blades of air" apparently.
So what happens when I try this seemingly simple task? Well, my hands rattle against the front and back of the device like oars in an unsteady current. I have tried dozens of these machines and the airflow pressing against each side of my hand is still un-even. The machine may not be designed to deliver uneven airflow, but the team has seemingly not accounted for my own limited target finding capabilities.
It is nearly impossible to get my hand directly into the 'sweet spot' where the two air currents are theoretically supposed to cancel each other out. Instead, due to the narrow slot, I end up rattling back and forth in the machine, rubbing my nice clean hands all over its rubberised rim like an out of control bumper car.
So now I'm bruised and frustrated. And by the way my hands are still wet. Like a concert pianist I prepare myself for one more assault on the machine, carefully slipping my hands down in the orifice, hoping to avoid becoming another Airblade crash statistic. This time, with muscles locked against the airflow and teeth gritted I manage to hold some sort of wobbly position near the center of the airflow.
So what happens next?
A spray of water bursting up from the machine and coating my face.
Do I know why? No. Does it happen all the time? No. About 50 % of the time when using a Dyson Airblade. Have I ever had it happen when using a classic old "non-hygienic" hand-drier. No.
The thing I am most curious about is whether I am unique?
With a bit of Google-fu I just found a Malcolm Cranmer who makes the same complaint about positioning in the Airblade. I am sure where there is two there is more!
Soon there will be a revolution for the return of the seething hot jet engine hand driers that blast a torrent of air down past your hands and across the tile. No doubt stirring up a whole lot of nasties on the way. But boy don't your hands feel nice and dry.
For now, Christopher 0, Airblade 1.