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A VAC WITH A BRAIN; DYSON TO MARKET ROBOTIC CLEANER IN UNITED STATES.

HFN REPORT-Once again, the British are coming.

Dyson is on the way, with what it calls "the world's first truly efficient automatic vacuum cleaner."

The DCO6 features the company's widely lauded Dual Cyclonic technology and has been designed to run almost completely autonomously: All the user must do, said the company, is press the "on" button, set the speed and get out of the way.

More than 50 sensory devices constantly feed data to the vacuum's "brain." Based on this data, the machine makes 16 decisions per second, allowing it to constantly navigate its way around a home.

Asimov fans take note: The machine was designed to express "emotions" via its "mood light." Blue means the DC06 is happy; green, it is on the go; red, it feels in danger.

"We use automatic washing machines and automatic dishwashers, so why not an automatic vac?" said Martin McCourt, managing director of Dyson International.

This is the first vacuum that Dyson is selling in this country -- but it is not the first Dual Cyclonic unit to be sold here. Fantom, based in Ontario, Canada, licensed Dyson's technology in the late 1980s and has been utilizing it in product sold here ever since.

Dyson, which now has five vac products (three uprights and two canisters) on sale across Europe and parts of Asia, possesses 53.3 percent of the United Kingdom's vac market and the biggest share across Europe, said McCourt. Its annual worldwide sales are more than $500 million.

What drove Dyson to its market-leader position, said McCourt, is the Dual Cyclone bagless technology. "It actually works better [than other vacs on the market] and played an enormous part in getting Dyson where it is today," he said.

James Dyson got the idea to produce Dual Cyclonic technology in 1978, when the vacuum he was using kept losing suction. Upon discovering the reason why -- dust was clogging the pores of the vac's bag, through which air had to pass -- the proverbial lightbulb glowed over his head.

In essence, a Dual Cyclonic vac is designed to operate without a bag, thereby producing constant, 100-percent suction.

As for the company's goals in the United States, McCourt said plans are to distribute the product here sometime this year.

McCourt and Steve Scott, managing director of Dyson North America, based in New York, are in the process of talking to retailers of all stripe: mass merchants, department stores and electronics retailers.

No doubt the biggest hurdle to retail distribution is the fact that the DC06 has a suggested retail price of $3,500. But McCourt said the sheer wonder the machine will create will make price less of an issue. "It is a wonderful product for this country," said McCourt. "There is a passion for better product here. The DC06 is so new a concept, you can't compare it with anything else.

"It is the future."

Considering the fact that a large share of mainstream retailers are presently selling high-definition televisions, which carry price tags north of $10,000, a vacuum priced at $3,500 is not as outlandish as it might first seem.

Interest from America has been strong, said McCourt. "Thousands in the U.S. have expressed interest in the product over our Web site [dyson.com]."

Advertising plans are in development.
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Comment:A VAC WITH A BRAIN; DYSON TO MARKET ROBOTIC CLEANER IN UNITED STATES.
Author:Lieber, Ed
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 6, 2000
Words:548
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