Bladeless desk fan is launched

It's not immediately obvious what this curious gadget does.

That's exactly why its manufacturers are trumpeting it as a major technological breakthrough.

The Air Multiplier is the first ever fan without rotating blades.

Instead, it uses a combination of basic physics and cutting edge aerodynamics.

The device features a plastic loop, sitting on a round base which incorporates an electric motor.

According to its manufacturers: "A jet of air passes over an airfoil-shaped ramp that channels its direction. Surrounding air is drawn into the airflow."

Roughly translated, a tiny fan in the bottom pushes out small amounts of air which pass over a curved surface, similar to an aeroplane wing.

This creates a powerful jet stream, drawing through more air from behind and beside the fan.

Overall, the Air Multiplier blows out 15 times more air than its motor creates.

Its maker, Dyson, began developing the technology for a range of hand dryers.

High cost

However, innovation comes at a price. The Air Multiplier will sell at £199 through high-end retailers.

Perhaps oddly, the product is being launched in mid-October, with UK temperatures hovering around 13C (55F).

The company defended its timing and price tag.

"After four years of development the fan is ready and it happens to be spring-time in Australia," said a spokesperson.

"On pricing… as we've seen with the vacuum cleaners, people are willing to pay for quality new technology, even during a recession."

Dyson enjoys a large share of the UK vacuum cleaner market, however, not all of its products have proved a runaway success.

Its Contrarotator washing machine was short-lived.

Despite selling for around £1000, the company stopped producing it after just four years, blaming high manufacturing costs.