Dyson unveils blade-free fan

James Dyson, who is famous for his vacuum cleaners, has created a fan that has no blades, using instead a unique technology to "multiply" air 15 times, expelling 118 gallons of smooth and uninterrupted air every second, according to the company.

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At first glance, James Dyson's latest invention looks like a powerful HD antenna or perhaps a small portal into another world. But in fact, the device, which carries the vaunting title of Dyson Air Multiplier, is something much more common: a fan.

What, a fan with no blades? Yes, that's exactly what you're looking at, and what makes the Air Multiplier so hard for people to classify at first. This fan uses some innovative airflow engineering to pull air up through an energy-efficient brushless motorbase and multiply it 15 times, expelling it through an airfoil-shaped ramp at a rate of 118 gallons a second, according to the press release.

Dyson, the company, says its fluid dynamics engineers spent four years "running hundreds of simulations to precisely measure and optimize the machine's aperture and airfoil-shaped ramp" and air fluctuations were mapped with something called a Laser Doppler Annometry.

Look ma, no blades. Dyson

Dyson, the man, says the ramp was key to creating the bladeless fan. "We realized that this inducement, or multiplication, effect could be further enhanced by passing airflow over a ramp," he says. "And of course this was the point where the idea of a bladeless fan became a real possibility. Here was a way to create turbulent-free air and finally do away with blades."

The Air Multiplier comes in 10-inch and 12-inch versions, with the smaller one available in "blue & iron" and "silver & white" while the larger fan is available in only the silver and iron coloring. Both models have a dimmer-like knob that controls air flow and the fan can be set to oscillate with a touch of a button. You can also tilt the Air Multiplier by simply pulling the ring forward or back.

We had a chance to try out the 12-inch model in our offices in New York and were duly impressed. Going blade-free obviously has its advantages. For starters, you don't have to worry about little kids sticking their fingers in the fan. And better yet, you don't have to worry about cleaning any blades (you simply run a cloth or paper towel around the "amplifier" ring to remove any dust that accumulates).

What's interesting is that there's a dead-zone in the middle of the fan when you move your hand or head close to the ring. But step back a few feet and you get a nice, smooth breeze.

It's also worth noting that at lower speeds, the Air Multiplier is pretty quiet. But crank the dimmer-style knob to high, and the motor does get kind of loud (it's about the same volume as the XBox 360 when it's trying to cool itself). Aside from that, the only downside here is the price: the 10-inch model will set you back $299.99 while the 12-inch version comes in at a whopping $329.99.

Yes, that's a heavy price to pay for innovation. But Air Multiplier is a conversation piece and if you stick your head inside the ring, you can be the ultimate fanboy.

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