The Science Behind Dyson's New Hot+Cool Link Air Purifier

Image: Dyson

According to the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate research, air pollution inside our homes and buildings can be up to five times worse than outside. Considering that's where we spend 90 per cent of our time (maybe more, for homebodies like myself), maybe we should be thinking about this a little more.

Famous for its massive investments into research and development, I had a chat with Dyson's Global Product Development Director for Environmental Control, Paul Dawson, about what went into making the Pure Hot+Cool link, and how we can use smart homes and the Internet of Things to improve our lives.

"We did a lot of research," Dawson told Gizmodo. "We've been in people's homes, analysing filters, sifting through what we have captured - it's a pretty disgusting job - but we've been looking at what we captured that came from various gases and sources of pollution inside people's homes."

What Dyson found was a combination of chemicals.

The main offenders were formaldehyde (from building and insulating materials, pressed wood products, plywood, medium density fibreboard (MDF), paints, adhesive, varnishes, floor finishes, vehicle emissions and tobacco smoke), benzene (paint, lacquers, petrol, glues, detergents, rubber, cleaning/degreasing formulations and tobacco smoke), toluene (petrol, vehicle exhaust emissions, vapours from stored fuel sources, solvent released from paints, adhesives, some personal care products and tobacco smoke), napthalene (usually occurs in solid form, but can also be released as a gas to indoor air).

Now, this isn't a "all chemicals are bad and everything will give you cancer" scare tactic. Formaldehyde is a substance banned in many countries around the world, well known for its causation of neurodegenerative diseases. Benzene is known to cause leukemia. Breathing high levels of toluene during pregnancy has been shown to result in children with birth defects. The World Health Organisation lists napthalene as a carcinogen.

Whilst air purifiers are known to help capture pollen, mould, bacteria and odours to help clean the air and to combat indoor air pollution, some machines struggle to trap the ultrafine particles of these dangerous chemicals - and that's what Dyson has been working on with the Pure Hot+Cool Link.

"We've refined and improved the chemistry of the filters," Dawson said. "This new machine contains a brand new filter construction for us - and we've now also got three times the amount of graphite crystals to which we've added Tris - which gives them superpowers to absorb volatile organic compounds in the home."

Dawson described Tris as "an organic compound that improves the absorbency of the crystals", and says based on conversations with suppliers, he believes this technology has not been used in any other product.

In terms of how the product works, Dawson says it's not how quickly you can clear a room, but how intelligently.

"We've got some pretty advanced sensors," Dawson says. "The products can 'sniff' the air every second, and using an algorithm we've developed through a series of home trials around the world the purifier can respond to any kind of air pollution that is senses."

"The analogy I like to use is - if you had a fire, what's the most difficult thing to put out - the fire that's raging out of control or the match that started it? We'd rather sense the match striking than wait for the bush to be on fire."

When asked who could benefit from having a home air filtration system, Dawson laughs. "I love this question, because the answer is - anyone with a pair of lungs."

"I travel the world talking to customers and understanding their concerns, and to put it in simple terms - the Chinese consumer is very aware of air pollution - because the can see it. The danger of indoor air pollution is you can't really see it."

Dawson says a recent study in the UK, with the Pure Hot+Cool Link, showed 88 per cent of people said they slept better with the unit in their homes.

"We are now working to understand the science behind that more," Dawson says. "We're really interested to find out if purified air can make you sleep better. That would be really exciting."

But the future of Dyson's Air Purifiers isn't just in the filtration capabilities.

"We are still learning a lot from the whole concept of the connected home," Dawson says. "What we are trying to do is step into more intelligent machines. The combination of a purifier, heating and cooling - that multi-functionality - is something resonating in people. We are going to continue to look at and develop products that would do that more."

Dawson says the idea of a "smart homes" and the integration of Internet of Things is "basically a buzzword".

"Dyson's approach is we want to embrace that technology - but we want to do it in a way that brings true value to the consumer," Dawson says. "There's a lot of devices that are connected out there that don't necessarily drive any value."

"What we are looking for are the smart home functions that can improve the everyday lives of the customer - we are looking into artificial intelligence and machine learning to all improve the products we develop for consumers."

The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link retails for $799, and you can pick one up in stores or online now. You can find all the specs and details - including information about the accompanying app - here. This article originally had the price stated as $779 - it has since increased to $799.



    No mention of filters, or how much they cost, or where to get them. Also, how much noise do these things make?

      It has a Quiet Accreditation, so safe to assume it's not super noisy, and this keeps in line with other Dyson fans too. Once we get our hands on one we'll be able to say for sure. The filters are $99 and also found on the Dyson website:

        Any idea how long the filters last?

          Apparently around 12 months, but I'd wager in a particularly dusty area, you could probably halve that. Still though, I suffer from dust issues and we've tried a couple of the cheaper makes over the years that just don't cut it, so I'm seriously considering getting one of these.

        The big problem with buying from the bigger electronics stores is the background noise makes it very hard to tell just how much noise a filter makes. Going to have to shop around for a price too. There's the other issue though, they pretty much collude to keep the price the same everywhere you go.

    I saw a show on super expensive apartments in NYC. They have two layers of double high-density super high transparency glazing (quadruple glazing) so absolutely no outside noise can be heard inside (but lots of light does) and the ducted air conditioning system is fully filtered. That is, no contact with the outside. The places they showed could probably be used as operating theatres.

    Hope it's more intelligent then the first ones that caught fire or their upright vacuums that are so top heavy they can't balance their own weight.

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