Dyson – the British engineering group – has unveiled a device that combines a high-speed hand dryer with hot and cold water outlets.
The Airblade Tap builds on the firm’s success with its existing standalone cold air hand driers, but is more expensive at £1,000.
The firm’s founder, Sir James Dyson, said that the device offered long-term savings over hot air dryers and towels.
However, one expert said its appeal might be limited until its cost fell.
The machine consists of a unit placed underneath the sink containing a motor, an air filter and sound-silencing equipment; a pipe that carriers the water, electrics and air to the tap; and a stainless steel head unit from which the water flows and unheated air jets out at 430mph (692 km/h).
Infrared sensors detect where the user’s hands are – if placed under the tap’s centre water comes out, if under its sides the air nozzles are triggered.
The firm said that the technology was protected by 110 granted patents with another 100 pending.
Dyson’s existing Airblade range – launched in 2006 – has proved a money spinner for the firm. It said that to date the hand dryers had been installed in more than 250,000 locations worldwide.
Although the minimalistic hybrid water-air tap head is the device’s signature feature, Sir James said that the “secret” of the machine was its motor, which had taken seven years to develop.