JD: Hello, Richard. I hope you're keeping safe in Hong Kong, Richard. It's been so battered by many things, but I hope you're well and safe.
RL: Thank you so much. So I understand that you're calling in from Paris because, well, you're now hosting an event there.
JD: Actually, I'm doing it on my own. I'm not hosting anything. We deliberately haven't got anybody coming here. I'm hosting myself. I'm on my own. There's only a cameraman.
RL: Well, everyone will be watching globally.
JD: Ah well, you see, I don't know about that, it's just me and the cameraman, as far as I'm concerned.
RL: So speaking of the situation, you won't be able to go back to Singapore anytime soon, right?
JD: Well, I hope so soon, because I think they've done a really good job of containing it. They're very strict and are doing all the right measures. I suspect, actually, it's one of the safest places to be, because of that.
RL: I've been curious as to how you split your time between the UK and Singapore, if these are indeed the two main places you spend most of the time at.
JD: Well, we've got research and development centres in both of them, and Malaysia. We're starting in the Philippines, and we've even got some in the United States and Japan. So it's a matter of traveling between the two, three or four centres. And I split it pretty evenly.
RL: Oh, interesting.
JD: And that's important for us because we, you know, we have lots and lots and lots of customers in Asia. And it's very important for us to be partly Asian-based, to understand our market and our people there. So we're part Asian and part British, and a little bit of few other things thrown in. That's really what we are. I don't really think of ourselves as a British company... Asia is such an important market for us, and we make everything there as well.
RL: Awesome. Well, I have been to the Malaysian R&D center. That was pretty impressive. And a few years back, I think it was shortly after the Supersonic launch, I visited Malmesbury which was nice. So let's go straight to the topic then. So it's the Dyson Corrale? Am I pronouncing it correctly?
JD: Corrale, as in the "O.K. Corral." "Gathering" is the word, because what we're doing compared with flat irons is gathering the hair and holding it in a very well-contained tress with a sort of oval section, and I mean that's accomplished by having very interesting flexing -- or flexible -- copper plates. So every 2 or 3mm there's a slice across the plate that allows them to flex.
I don't know if you've ever seen them doing skirting around a curve, they do a saw cut every inch or so... every half inch, almost through the wood, and that allows the wood to bend around the curve. And we've done a similar thing with copper plates: we machine them, and machine, if you like, a slit, which almost goes through the copper. And then we wire erode it to get a very, very precise thickness to within about 60 microns. And that allows us to get exactly the right amount of flex without the copper breaking.
And these flexible plates hold the tress in a sort of oval section, whereas flat plates splay the tress out, and you then apply tension by squeezing the plates together. And the problem is that whilst you might squeeze one bit of hair... the gap that's left allows quite a number of hairs -- particularly the ones towards the edges -- to not be squeezed at all, so they become flyaways.
Straightening hair is about tensioning it and applying heat. The heat obviously changes the bonds in the hair and rearranges them, and the tension makes it go straight. So when you do a one-pass with flat irons, obviously quite a proportion of the hair isn't being tensioned and heated, and you can see that when you see someone doing it, they become flyaways. And you get them all, for the same level of tension, by doing many goes -- probably five goes, five to six goes on the same tress.
The problem with that is that -- you know, if you've got the time -- the problem is that you're applying far too much heat. You're overheating the hair. And you're also overheating the hair because you're squashing it flat, you're applying a huge amount of heat to a large number of the hairs, whereas with our flexing plates and this oval section, you're evenly tensioning all the hair, so that you don't have to do so many passes.
And there's an interesting effect -- if you can imagine this oval section of the tress -- which is that the thickness of the tress cools the outer layer of the hair. Rather like boiling -- I don't know if you ever did it at school -- boiling a paper bag full of water on a Bunsen burner.
RL: Yes I have!
JD: If you remember, the paper didn't burn. It was supposed to burn. You got rather the same effect with the hair tress, in that the cooler core stops the outer from scalding, being singed. So whatever the temperature... if we set our irons at the same temperature as the flat irons, the hair is always 20 degrees or so cooler, so we cause far less damage.
And the thing about heat damage, which I think everybody who uses flat irons knows, that they're damaging their hair. It physically makes their hair half as strong, so it snaps much more easily. But almost worse than that, from a beauty junkie's point of view, is that each hair, instead of being shiny and smooth like hair that hasn't been overheated, is it becomes like a bit of old rope, all sorts of hairy. And the problem with that is that it doesn't reflect the light, it's not shiny and light-reflecting. So hair that's damaged is dull, doesn't reflect the light and is weaker. So it looks dull and lifeless and not shiny and glossy.
The other thing is that overheating removes the color in the hair, and over 60 percent of people dye their hair, which... I've never done it, but I'm told it takes quite a long time. [chuckles] Well, not yet, anyway. [chuckles] I'm told it takes quite a long time, and it's very expensive. And it's actually quite remarkable how quickly overheating removes the color, which is... you've spent so much money and gone through such agony applying.
So overheating damages the hair, makes it look dull and lifeless and not shiny and glossy. It removes the color and it makes it half as strong as it should be, so it snaps very easily. So those are the problems we wanted to overcome and have overcome.
We've also put batteries in from our battery technology in our vacuum cleaners and battery management system, which means that you can straighten your hair in an Uber taxi, or in the loo or at work or wherever you like in the house -- in front of a mirror, while having breakfast, whatever. So you've got freedom, you don't have to do it while crouching down in a corner near a socket by a mirror. You can travel with it as well, and we've got a little plug you pull out when you go on an airline. and it comes with a soft heatproof bag which looks like velvet, so you can wrap it up, put it in your suitcase or in your handbag.
RL: Yeah, it's pretty nice, I have to say.
JD: Yeah, because, you know, people like to top up. You use it at work, and if you're then going out for a meal or going to a concert or something, you can just quickly straighten the hair or give it a curl under, or whatever it is you want to do.
RL: So it seems like this is all about saving you time, which therefore also reduces heat damage because you don't have to do it so many times. I think my colleague Cherlynn, she actually had a briefing in New York as well. To my surprise, she told me that she actually does her hair every night before going to bed, rather than doing it the next day before going out. And this is obviously going to save her a lot of time. She said it might reduce her hair prep from one hour down to maybe half an hour, which is obviously a big plus for people like her. So that's very impressive.
JD: Yes, an hour doing your hair is just a lot of time, isn't it? [chuckles] Actually, I'd put beauty at the top, shinier and glossier hair at the top. And then damage, and then time, in that order. But anyone can put it in whatever order they like. Those are the three things we're after. Well and, you know, flexibility, to be able to do it in a car. I mean Cherlynn could do it in the car on the way to work, or on the train, on the Underground or...
RL: Preferably not while driving. [chuckles]
JD: Well, no, perhaps not. Uber.
RL: Yeah, Uber. So actually, my understanding is that this product took about seven years to develop and that was alongside... around the same time as the Supersonic and the Airwrap, both of which I also have at home as well. Very nice piece of kit.
JD: Oh good.
RL: So I was wondering, obviously, you and I both being blokes, these aren't really the kind of devices that we as men actually use. At least not every day anyway. But I was interested in seeing your perspective in terms of your input into the development for the Corrale or any related products really, because apparently you had to personally approve almost everything about this product.
JD: Oh, yes. I'm involved in it, in the development of it. In all of them. That's what I do every day. It's, you know, that's what I enjoy, that's what I was trained to do. Developing the technology is fascinating, developing those plates was really interesting. We've gone through many kilometers of human hair tresses, understanding hair, and learning what manipulates it, what damages it and what makes it shiny and glossy. And all those basics are really key for everybody. It's beauty. Your hair is almost the most important part of your body. The rest of it is covered up in clothes, usually. [chuckles]
RL: Unless you like wearing hats.
JD: Well, unless you have... there's still bits showing at the edges. Maybe you're wearing a hat because you've damaged your hair!
RL: Well... that's debatable. I mean, there's some fashion element to that, anyway.
JD: Yeah, and keeping you warm.
RL: But what I'm trying to get to is... I mean, it's interesting that even though you may not necessarily use that product every day, you're still able to provide your input into these products. From your perspective, what were your biggest contributions to the Corrale?
JD: Oh, you mean personally? I have absolutely no idea. I mean, we're developing lots of technology and lots of products all the time, and we don't say who's done what because... Obviously, engineers go off and discover things in laboratories, and they invite me to go and see what they're doing. And I make suggestions, and then we have meetings, and I make suggestions, and lots of people make suggestions. And we don't attribute the idea to any one person. Sometimes there's an inventor named on a patent, but... so I have absolutely no idea.
RL: OK, that's very gracious of you.
JD: In many ways, it's insidious to single anyone out because often it's a group of people coming up with ideas and developing things and so on. But failure, you know, is a... Understanding failure. So when we have these meetings, when we go into laboratories, we're not looking at what we've succeeded; we're looking at what we've failed, because it's from failure that you learn.