Design Engineering
Showcase 2021

Dyson Technology

Tags
Product Development
Sensing
Machine Learning
DFMA

Project Details

Student
Patrick D. McGuckian
Team
New Product Development - Haircare
Supervisor
Dr David Boyle
Role
RDD Intern - New Product Development
Sector
Retail and Consumer Goods
Links
Portfolio
LinkedIn
Email

In 2016 Dyson launched the breakthrough Supersonic Hair Dryer and having since followed up with the AirWrap styler and Corrale straightener, they have cemented themselves as haircare industry leaders.

This summer I have been working in Dyson’s Haircare team to develop their next generation of products. Though I have worked on several projects, an idea I had for a new sensing technology represents the bulk of my contribution. Over the last 6 months I have developed and patented my concept and worked to integrate it into multiple Dyson products – teaching me how products and technologies are developed in industry.

Dyson Technology

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Context:

When I started at Dyson, my team was introduced to the new product concept that they would be working on for the next 16 months. The business was hoping the product would be popular among Asian consumers, whose key requirement is ease of use. So, it included a feature that broke down its main function into 3 sequential phases and used a sensor to automatically switch between phases 2 and 3.

Concept:

I wanted to automate every phase transition by replacing the existing sensor with a new sensing technology that could detect specific events that occurred when a phase transition is required.

These events were too complex for a single sensor to detect without frequent false positives. However, if multiple sensors were positioned around the product, the same events would cause unique patterns in their time-series data. So, my system used machine learning to spot these patterns to avoid false positives.

Development:

There was no prior art for my concept, so I created a rigid toolset to iteratively develop the concept. This toolset was later used by other teams to integrate my technology into new products. The process can be summarised as:

- Design and manufacture a prototype.

- Using it to collect real world data to train machine learning models.

- Deploying the models on the prototype and test performance.

- Analyse the results to understand how it could be improved.

After roughly 20 prototypes the technology was demonstrated as feasible, so I worked with my New Product Development colleagues to integrate my PCBs and fPCBs into the product and create documentation detailing any risks that will need to be addressed before it’s launch.

Explanation of my technologies purpose
Explanation of how my technology works

Role and Contributions

I was based in Dyson’s Haircare New Product Development Team (NPD), where Design and Mechanical Engineers turn the loose product concepts created by the New Product Innovation team into viable, desirable, and feasible products.

Initially I worked on multiple projects to support this, so when I pitched my sensing concept to senior stakeholders, I was instructed to develop on alongside my other work. Similar concepts had been explored and abandoned by research teams as they were unable to address the ‘false positive’ problem. However, the knowledge of machine learning I had picked up from personal reading meant I could address these problems.

As the fidelity of my prototypes improved and the concepts feasibility increased, I was directed to work on it full time. In addition to developing the technology for my product, I ran workshops to introduce my concept, and development approach, to other teams who were interested in including it in their products.

My impact to Dyson can be summarised as:

- Developing and patenting a new sensing technology.

- Integrating it into an upcoming product to automate its main function – increasing its desirability to among Asian consumers.

- Running workshops to introduce the technology to other teams – resulting in it being considered for another product and attachment.

The 3 other haircare interns and I in front of the Dyson Harrier at the Malmesbury Campus

Summary

Working to turn my idea into a working technology has enhanced my technical skillset, increased my confidence, and highlighted my strengths and weaknesses. For any DE3 considering working in a similar role I have 2 tips:

- Ask for forgiveness, not permission: Don’t always ask what to do next – be autonomous in how you deliver projects.

- Believe in your ability: If you have an idea - pitch it! The company will want to hear it.