Dyson was founded in 1993 by Sir James Dyson OM, who remains Chief Engineer and Chairman. From its beginnings in cyclonic vacuums, Dyson’s portfolio has grown to include battery-enabled and autonomous vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, lighting, heating and cooling fans, humidifiers, intelligent air purifiers and hair dryers, sold in 75 markets globally.
When the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer launched in April 2016, it propelled the company into the $80bn global haircare market –
an industry that was previously unknown territory for Dyson. It was a project fuelled by novel thinking, with Dyson’s engineers delving not
just into the science of the machine itself, but into the science of hair. Technology and beauty may seem a surprising pair to some.
But understanding how hair reacts to heat and air, how it behaves when wet and dry, is integral to engineering an efficient, intelligent hair dryer.
Dyson spent four years and £50m understanding the science of hair and the problems with existing hair dryers, to develop a better way – a machine that dries quickly, styles precisely and doesn’t permanently damage hair. And different user preferences and styles were thoroughly examined – a crucial and constant learning curve.
Dyson hair scientists studied over 1,010 miles of human hair across seven hair types, and watched 275 hours of people drying their hair, better to understand the obstacles users encounter, and their preferred drying techniques.
Just like other transformational Dyson machines, Dyson’s motor technology is the key to its powerful performance. Vacuum cleaner manufacturers typically buy their motors from third-party suppliers. But to make a machine that was ahead of the rest, James Dyson knew everything needed to be better – including the motor. He wanted to develop a motor engineered specifically for Dyson machines.
So he did. Dyson now makes some of the smallest, fastest motors in the world. They power the majority of Dyson’s machines and have enabled entirely new categories, such as the cord-free vacuum cleaners, the Dyson Airblade hand dryers, as well as the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. The motor is what sets the company apart and requires every engineering discipline to achieve cutting-edge performance.
Dyson has pledged a £2.5bn investment in future technology and its Research & Development interests are broad: artificial intelligence, machine learning, hardware and software, robotics, fluid dynamics, vision systems, battery cells and super capacitors. To achieve this, Dyson has more than tripled the headcount at its British headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, in the last four years, and has recently started work on a second Wiltshire technology campus at Hullavington, increasing its British footprint tenfold. Out of a workforce of over 9,000, one third are engineers and scientists.
Dyson has always strived to engineer technology that makes its products better and allows it to stay ahead of its competitors. Dyson’s heritage in innovation and problem-solving is as relevant for its first foray into the beauty world as it was for the first bagless vacuum cleaner. And so it remains for future technologies and future machines.
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