What makes the Dyson different? It's the battery, man
It's not often I write about vacuum cleaners. To date I can't say I ever have, but they're at the leading edge of the new battery revolution and as you'd expect, Dyson is at the forefront. So whey they asked if I'd like to try the new Dyson V11 and review it, I was intrigued.
Batteries are the bane of early 21st century life. Since Apple came out with the iPhone and the standard battery life for a phone dropped from one week to most of a day (but not quite all), the move has been on to produce longer lasting batteries that put out more power.
In the following decade the move to battery-ise most devices has become almost complete. The war between the power cords and mobility is over and the cables lost, big time. Now we're talking about battery powered everything from mice to cars and there's no end in sight.
In the appliance world, vacuum cleaners were the obvious first cab off the rank. Power cords get in the way and restrict getting the job done. Cordless vacuums were OK but nothing to write home about, lacking power to suck and sustain.
Dyson's new V11 cordless stick cleaners are an astonishing combination of battery tech and (at the other end of the problem) intelligent use of power.
The engineers realised early on that simply putting a bigger battery on the device was only half the solution. Making better use of the power available was essential if the new vacuum cleaner was to live up to expectation and its price tag.
So Dyson built a seven cell battery pack out of nickel-cobalt-aluminium to ensure "fade-free performance", with an LCD monitor that shows how much time the vacuum has left to operate.
But looking at the problem from the other end - using the power - Dyson realised it would need a smarter engine running the device and smarter accessories as well. So the V11 was equipped with a series of microprocessors (one in the motor, one for the battery and one in the cleaner head which assesses what type of floor surface you're cleaning and adjusts the power accordingly) to better manage power use.
Between that and the simple trick of building a soft-touch trigger - making it easier to turn off when moving between jobs - extends battery run-time by more than 30%.
Dyson tells me users all overestimate how long it takes us to vacuum our houses (by up to double the real time) so extending the battery life by 30% more than covers a full clean. And, given the way my kids now fight over who gets to vacuum, I suspect Dyson is on to a winner.
Battery tech will be the big differentiator in the next few years, as more appliances and devices are converted to battery power. Those companies that invest in R&D are likely to stay one step ahead of the competition.
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