The core design of ceiling fans hasn't altered in the 150 years or so since they first made an appearance. Most ceiling fans cool by blowing air straight down, which is fine if you're standing directly underneath the blades, but of less use for regulating and homogenizing the overall air temperature in the room. Nik Hiner, via his company Exhale Fans, is trying to disrupt the industry with an innovative new design.
The Exhale fan, developed by Hiner with help from Richard Halsall, works differently from normal ceiling fans. The spinning of the flat discs that make up the Exhale fan creates laminar movement which moves the air out and down the walls. This means air circulates around the whole room pretty evenly. Another advantage is that the fan is virtually silent, with even the motor powering it being designed to be as quiet as possible.
Once the air molecules have completed their circuit around the room they're swept back up to the center of the fan in a vortex pattern, as demonstrated by the GIF embedded below.
In theory this 360-degree movement of the air around the room should eliminate the hot and cold spots associated with traditional ceiling fans. The whole thing is powered by a high-efficiency DC motor with a 6-speed wireless remote.
Hiner was moved to invent a new kind of ceiling fan after becoming disheartened by the look and performance of those currently in his house and available on the market. His Eureka moment was thinking "Cyclonic air movement," and after studying how Nikola Tesla's bladeless turbines operated, he created his first attempt at a bladeless ceiling fan. That was back in 2005, and Hiner then spent the next few years adapting the design and constructing numerous prototypes before settling on the finished product.
The Exhale fan is now on crowd-funding site Indiegogo, with a minimum of US$250 required to score one unit upon release. The money raised from the crowd-funding campaign will be used for finalizing the tooling, designing the packaging, buying the raw materials needed to make the fans, and seeking UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approval. The first Exhale fan is expected to roll off the production line in February 2013.
The video below is Hiner's Indiegogo pitch.