Inventor James Dyson unveiled his latest device yesterday - a high-speed hand dryer for public toilets.

The vacuum cleaner king said the Dyson Airblade was faster and more hygienic than standard dryers.

Its motor pumps out room temperature air at 400mph through a 0.3 millimetre slot.

That constant sheet of air apparently acts like a windscreen wiper, drying both hands in 10 seconds.

It relies on air pressure to remove the water rather than heat and evaporation used by standard dryers.

The device then sterilises the waste water and releases it back into the air as an invisible mist.

The Airblade uses up to 83 per cent less energy than conventional hand dryers, according to Dyson.

Its launch follows a trial in hospitals, restaurants and petrol service stations.

The device is driven by the Dyson Digital Motor which is already used in one of the firm's vacuum cleaners in Japan.

The motor spins at 1,666 revolutions per second, generating enough air pressure to dry hands without heat.

Mr Dyson, 59, said the Air-blade was developed at his company's research centre in Wiltshire over the last two years.

"We would like to replace all the hand dryers in every public building from now onwards because they are so slow - and there is a health question mark over them," Mr Dyson said.

Despite the Airblade's high speeds, Mr Dyson said the device was gentle on the hands and prevented chapping.

"It is actually rather a nice feeling. When people put their hands in they are pleasantly surprised at how gentle it is," he said.

According to the launch details, the device has the blessing of the British Skin Foundation because of its good hygiene.

The Dyson Airblade will launch in the UK next month.