You probably know Dyson for its strange-looking vacuums and fans, but in the 21 years Sir James Dyson has been inventing, he’s cooked up more than high-tech home goods. His coolest contraption yet? An augmented reality headset that looks a lot like Google Glass. Oh, and he invented it more than 10 years ago. Back in 2001, Dyson began working on an augmented reality headset it intended to call Dyson Halo. The Halo was meant to be a portable, head-mounted computer that looked like a pair of glasses and responded to audio prompts. Sound familiar?
21 years ago and 5,127 prototypes later, James Dyson launched one of the world’s first mass-produced cyclonic vacuum cleaners. And within 18 months, it became Britain’s biggest-seller. The road to launch for the bagless miracle had been fraught with obstacles. Having failed to convince major manufacturers to take on his invention, with some concerns around its impact on the lucrative replacement dust bag market, Dyson ended up establishing his own company in Wiltshire, England, in 1993. Since then, the Dyson brand has become synonymous with innovation. The company has produced the Airblade hand-dryer, and the so-called bladeless fan. Today, Dyson holds more than 4,000 patent applications, covering 500 inventions, and the company says its engineers are working with around 20 of Britain’s universities to “develop a pipeline of technology 25 years long.” But among all the hullabaloo of fans, dryers and vacuum cleaners, it’s easy to forget that for every blazing success story, there’s probably one or two that failed to make the grade too.