Technology: Quicker Cleanups

James Dyson--inventor, self-promoter and Britain's most famous vacuum salesman--constantly seeks minor irritations. If the batteries in your hand vacuum go dead just when you need it, you plug it in to recharge and grab a broom, right? Not Dyson. If pet hair clogs the vac and ruins its suction, you open it and clear it out. Dyson embarks on a research project. To him, these issues aren't minor, and they're not irritations. They're business opportunities.

Before he started selling vacuums on TV, Dyson made a name for himself as an innovative industrial designer, finding novel ways to improve on everyday objects from...

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