The Blog

As The Humble Hairdryer Gets The Dyson Treatment, Let's Give All Household Appliances a Tech Makeover

The hairdryer. It's not the first household appliance that springs to mind when considering what the tech revolution might do for our daily struggle with domestic devices.

It might be minutes since you last saw a co-habitant cursing as they dragged a hoover up the stairs, or moments since you picked at bowls that emerged unclean from the dishwasher, but the hairdryer isn't well known for causing tension or frustration.

It came as a surprise to some, then, when Dyson unveiled their new and improved version of the personal care gadget. This model is quieter and will do less damage to your locks than conventional machines, but you'll pay £299 for the privilege.

As the product of £50 million worth of research investment, you can see why the Dyson dryer costs nearly twice as much as its salon-grade rivals from other manufacturers. But "not damaging your hair", says Sir James Dyson, is "worth a lot of money". And he probably has a point.

Dyson has a number of smash-hit successes under its belt. Most recently, the Airblade hand dryer and (at the other end of the blade spectrum) the bladeless fan have gone down a treat. Perhaps there's more money than expected in up-to-date takes on everyday staples.

Where else are we missing a trick? Are there other household standards with bright futures?

The humble fridge

Samsung have stepped up to the plate with their Family Hub fridge-freezer, which is a great deal more than the 'tablet embedded in a fridge door' models that are currently emerging.

For starters, as you'll see in the video above, the screen itself is enormous, meaning it doubles as an entertainment system. And then there's the fact that the fridge can source recipes, share notes and sync multiple calendars, allowing family members to identify the best times to shop and eat together.

A digital shopping list accumulates as items are removed and consumed, and every time the fridge is opened and closed, internal cameras take a picture of each of the four shelves. You can then access those photos from the supermarket to scan for any missing essentials (although the doors are out of shot, making harder to spot the holy grail of fridge content: milk).

The unassuming kettle

The electric kettle was a big step forward for committed tea drinkers, but purists will tell you that although it speeds up the process, it doesn't guarantee a decent cuppa.

Lucky, then, that a student from the Indian Institute of Technology is shaking things up with a tea-making app that schedules your kettle to boil and controls the temperature to which the water is heated. It might not be the beverage-based development we've all been praying for but it will save you flicking the switch on your kettle a few times a day.

The modest washing machine

And LG has pushed to the front of the queue for the washing machine with its TWIN Wash system. The first of it's kind, this washer has a stowaway machine in the base of the main system - a space efficient mini-washer which allows you to load two washes simultaneously. Take a look in the video below...

In my opinion, it doesn't seem to be much more sophisticated than two different-sized washing machines glued together, but it does admittedly take up less space than two normal-sized systems would.

The connectivity options include the opportunity to sync the machine with LG's HomeChat messaging service, which can't be a big selling point. How many times have you wanted to talk to your housemate via your washer-dryer?

There are many improvements we'd all cheer for in the realm of everyday technology, but tacking a messaging function onto a blender doesn't solve any real problems.

Dyson is heading in the right direction with its gentle-on-the-hair dryer, but we won't rest until we're using a Wallace and Gromit-style toaster - and preferably a device to get us out of bed and dress us, too.