One of the show’s main attractions was the Airider vacuum from Glasgow, Scotland-based Air Rider Systems Ltd. The vacuum literally hovers above the floor and easily moves around the room with the user, eliminating the floor scratches often left behind from wheels and easing the physical exertion of the user. According to Michael J. Rooney, inventor and CEO, the key to the “floating” appliance is the patented footprint on the bottom of the vacuum through which the air passes. “Air moves through the footprint at a very high speed and lifts the machine. It’s similar to a hovercraft, but without the skirt,” he tells APPLIANCE.
According to the company, air is directed from an inlet on the vacuum’s upper casing on an angle, passing through an electrified conduit, where the air is then delivered to the exhaust port. The air chambers receive pressurized air from the exhaust port and stabilize the underside surface to maintain a horizontal relationship with a floor surface, creating air floatation lift.
Using a 1,400-W motor, Mr. Rooney says that the air flowing through the system moves at more than 200 mph. A thermal cut-off protects the motor from overheating. One of the design challenges, he says, was balancing the necessary sucking pressure with the airflow. The solution, he notes, is one of the 28 claims protected under his patent, which he received in April 2001. “If we can pick up a 10.5-lb vacuum cleaner, we can pick up a speck of dirt,” Mr. Rooney notes.
The unit was also designed with stairs in mind. According to Mr. Rooney, the machine will not fall off edges, as it requires floor space to hover upon. “If it is not on a surface, it stops,” he explains.
The vacuum is constructed out of engineering polymers to keep the unit durable, but lightweight. Other features include HEPA-standard filtration and washable filters, as well as a button-release, extendable hose from supplier Flexible Ducting (Glasgow, Scotland) that stretches up to 1.5 m. The canister is bagless and can be emptied via a font-release clip. Mr. Rooney expects the units to be available for purchase by April, initially through TV “infomercial” sales. The vacuum will be available in several color combinations, which have yet to be determined.