The Hot Air War

Are the days of the wet hand over? A few months ago I wrote in the WSJ about the Mitsubishi Jet Towel (subscription only; I did a version of the piece for the BBC World Service which you can download as a podcast here), which has been drying hands effectively around Asia for some time, now arriving on U.S. shores:

I spotted it when I was gorging in a food court — a plastic-cased, cream-colored, wall-mounted device that looked like an attractive waste-disposal unit or, possibly, a mailbox. The only clue that it was actually a hand dryer was its proximity to the wash basins. Using it was like a glimpse of hand-drying heaven. Instead of sticking your hands below a single air jet, you put them inside a sort of trough inside the unit, between two jets that start blowing automatically onto both sides of your hands.

Instead of searing blasts of hot air that shrivel the skin and give your hands a weird burning sensation, the Jet Towel envelops them in a strong but muted cushion of air, circulating within the trough. Instead of rubbing your hands together vigorously in the vain hope of dislodging the damp, you just move the hands up and down slowly. Instead of the water dripping off your hands onto the floor, it falls to the bottom of the trough and down a pipe into the base of the unit. Instead of the usual half-minute or so of frantic hand-rubbing, followed by some pant-wiping, pull out your hands after a few seconds and they’re dry. Really.

Now it looks like it has a rival, in the form of the Dyson Airblade. Right now I’m not quite sure what the difference is between the two devices — they both look remarkably similar. I’m still waiting for word from Dyson’s PR people. But anything that gets our hands dryer quicker and more hygienically can only be good news. Coverage at engadget and The Guardian.

Technorati tags: , , ,

The Barcode Revolution

Pacarc, the guys who brought the Mitsubishi Jet Towel to the U.S. are now bringing over another piece of Japan: The design barcode.

Bc1

The design barcode, in the words of Pacarc’s James Allard, “seemed so obvious – utilize the last one-inch square of (nearly) blank real estate on product packing for branding or company image purposes. Why didn’t we think of it?! We looked into it and discovered that the mad minds behind it were four Japanese guys in a company called design barcode, inc. We contacted them and after a number of great discussions we are now the exclusive distributor for designed barcodes in the United States.”

Bc2

It’s a pretty cool but simple idea: turn the boring barcode into something interesting to look at and to enhance the brand at the same time. Expect a full launch next week. I think it’s a very cool idea, and it’s funky that a company like Pacarc are picking up these ideas and bringing them over the Pacific. Expect to see a big launch next week.

News: DVDs Go To Eight GB

 Soon you can burn more than 8 gigabytes onto a DVD. Technology co-developed by drive maker Philips and media specialists Verbatim and Mitsubishi Kagaku, adds a second recording layer to a standard-thickness DVD+R disc The Register reports. That’s enough for four hours of DVD-quality material, 16 hours of VHS-quality content or two hours’ archive footage. The discs are playback-compatible with existing DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.