25 February 2010

The Only Hand Dryer in the History of Everything that Actually Works (and No, Justin's Account Hasn't Been Hijacked by a Spambot)

Apropos of nothing, here in the UK is the first time I've ever in my life used a hand dryer that actually works. This is an especially big problem in Scotland, where your hands are cold and damp all day to begin with, and public restrooms rarely stock paper towels. In such circumstances, the typical asthmatic wheeze of lukewarm air just isn't going to cut it.

Until a few months ago, the Edinburgh University Library stocked hand dryers that were among the worst of the worst. The air-stream covered about the area of a postage stamp and shut off after five seconds, at which point you had to wave your hands around like an idiot trying to get the thing to reactivate. Worse, the thing was mounted directly below the paper-towel dispenser, which means that if a paper towel was left hanging at just the wrong angle, the dryer would start switching itself on and off indefinitely. Total failure.

Then, for reasons known to no mortal man, EUL installed precisely one Dyson Airblade in precisely one men's room (first floor, by the study pods, for those of you keeping score at home)--and I must say, I never thought something so silly as a hand dryer could completely make my day. I actually go out of my way to go to the bathroom on the first floor now. (The sad thing is I'm not kidding. The first floor bathroom is also the site of the library's best water fountain. These are the kinds of things that matter to you when you're a grad student.)

Anyway, the Airblade is totally one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" inventions. I won't try to describe how it works--the picture linked to above is self-explanatory.

My question: Do we have these back in the US? If not, is anyone else concerned at how far our great nation has fallen behind in the hand-dryer-technology arms race?