My Gadget Life – James Dyson

The serial innovator talks apps, time travel and why he’s still annoyed with Henry VI

James Dyson, 64, is the founder of Dyson and inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner

Asking me to choose between my inventions is like asking a mother to choose between her children. You put a huge amount of effort into these things – we don’t have favourites.

Apps? That sort of thing is in the future, yes. Software is already important to us. The heater [the company’s new Dyson Hot] uses a lot of artificial intelligence to detect air temperature and control the motors. About 30 per cent of work that’s went into the Dyson Hot went into software. And quite a lot of the cost.

Of course we’re working on new things. We’re spending £60 million on R&D this year: technology, batteries… a lot of it secret, too. We need to be ahead of everyone else. Will there be surprises? I don’t know what people expect. These things take time – you can rush them, but we are quite absolute about it.

If I ever invent it, I’ll use the Dyson Time Machine to go back and meet Frank Whittle, creator of the jet engine. He was a fitter in the RAF before going on to Cambridge where he wrote his jet engine thesis and then went on to build it – it flew perfectly first time. That’s extraordinary. Of course, no one had believed in it before, but when it worked, it was nicked straight away.

We’ve had intellectual property work in our favour and we’ve had it work against us. We’d certainly like to see the system changed – it’s pretty obvious who’s came up with an idea. Let that decide, rather than who can twist the law. I also don’t like having to publish ideas we’re trying to keep secret. I blame the man who started it all: Henry VI.

The Dyson Hot is out today, exclusively at John Lewis for £270, and on wider release from October.


Dyson Hot reinvents the fan heater

Dyson Hot hands on

5 English design classics