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James Dyson invents sink that washes and dries your hands

Posting in Design

Is saving trees worth getting your hands dirtier? You might not know it but that's the trade-off with using one of those public restroom hand dryers. In fact, studies have shown that the circulated hot air is so polluted that users leave with more than twice the bacteria on their hands than before they walked in. Yuck!

Legendary inventor and idea man James Dyson finds this unacceptable. He thinks the entire concept of also having to stand with dripping wet hands while waiting your turn is in serious need of re-engineering. That's why he spent the last seven years re-imagining and developing the Airblade Tap, an all-in-one sink and hand dryer.

After a tinkering process that produced 3,300 prototypes, his engineering team finally came up with a satisfactory minimalist design that integrates a standard stainless steel faucet with drying system that includes sensors, a customized motor, air filter, and sound-dampening technology. Placing your hands beneath the faucet kick-starts the hand washing process while shifting them to the side under the protruding vent outlet activates a quiet, yet powerful 1600-watt electromagnetic motor running at 90,000 rpm. This produces a 420 mph blast of cold, clean air that gets the job done in about 14 seconds flat.

Compare that to basic hand dryers, which take up to 43 seconds and suck in dirty air from outside, and you'll see why Dyson's invention is long overdue. However, with something this high tech, the overall cost will run in the range of $2,000. But Dyson's claims that installing the Tap will be cost-effective in the long run when taken into consideration that it's five times as efficient as a regular dryer and 15 times more efficient than paper towels.

At the very least, he's persuaded a few notable businesses to get with the program. ABC News reports that the Dyson Airblade Tap is set to debut within months at airports in New York, Miami and Seattle along with public restrooms at Universal Studios in Orlando and Jack in the Box restaurants.

The latest retrofitting ideas:

Odd or Innovative? You decide:

— By on February 5, 2013, 8:27 PM PST

Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure