Dyson Sent Engineers to Beauty School Before Designing Its First Hair Dryer

The beauty world lost its collective mind yesterday when British technology company Dyson – of genius hand dryer and vacuum fame – announced it had created a hair dryer. The Dyson Supersonic is really, really different from any hair dryer you’ve ever seen.

Yep, that’s a hair dryer. And the tiniest motor ever. (Photo courtesy of Dyson)

What we found really interesting is that the Dyson engineering team all attended beauty school to better understand how hair dryers are used, which is an idea so simple that it’s genius. We talked to U.K.-based engineer Annmarie Nicolson, who has been hands-on with the Supersonic from day one, in her role on the new-product development team. 

We are experts in all things airflow, fluid dynamics, hardware … all things engineering. But we surely aren’t style experts. Having a group of young engineers attend styling classes made them see the end benefit of this machine and how the hair dryer can truly be improved.

Actually, Heat Shield technology was born from the beauty school process. Our engineers were trying to change out attachments as they styled hair and kept burning their fingers. That’s when they figured out they could create a kind of sheath around where the hot air comes out so that our attachments never felt hot to the touch.

Photo courtesy of Dyson.

Jen’s role was educating our Dyson engineers on styling techniques and how the everyday woman styles her hair. What sort of tools are needed, products, and really working with her to get her feedback for the future Dyson hair category. We really wanted to understand what professionals expect from a hair dryer.

Conventional hair dryers often have large motors, and because of their size, they have to be put in the head of the machine. As a result, they can be bulky, and they can blast air at extreme temperatures, all with the risk of hair being sucked into the filter and being trapped. This traditional hair dryer design hasn’t advanced in more than 60 years.

When Dyson goes into a new category, we always think about how we can make it better. We created our own Dyson digital motor V9. It’s small enough to be positioned in the handle rather than the head, so it’s engineered for balance in the hand. We also have intelligent heat control, helping to ensure hair isn’t exposed to excessive heat and never goes above the temperature selected. A glass bead thermistor measures the temperature 20 times a second and transmits this data to the microprocessor, which intelligently controls the patented double-stacked heating element.  

Photo courtesy of Dyson

Not just yet! Jen had to keep the product very much under wraps until launch day, so she’s only now just starting to use it in public. She’s told us that she thinks her clients will go crazy for it though. 

It’s always frizzy-hair season here in the U.K.! I have to blow out my hair almost every day. We released Supersonic in Japan first, as they’re such early adopters of new technology. Since demand is so high, you’ll have to wait a bit to get it in the U.S., but it’ll be there just in time for Fashion Week!

How does it work? We’ll let you know as soon as we get our hands on one.

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