Dehumidifiers are becoming quite common in the home and workplace. They remove moisture from the air, which is important because too much of it can lead to an increased dust mite population which is bad for allergy sufferers, and the growth of mold and fungus which can have terrible effects on our health.
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They remove water from the air by condensation. This is the same thing that happens when you have a cold drink on a hot day, and water condenses on the glass. Rather than using a cold glass, dehumidifiers have metal coils. The coils are cooled by the same technology that is used in your refrigerator, and the water simply drips down into the bucket.
A fan is used to increase the amount of air that comes into contact with the coils, exactly the same as in an air-conditioning unit. The difference between an air-conditioner and a dehumidifier is that the dehumidifier reheats the air before returning it to the room.
As you can see, the scientific principles involved are many years old. There is nothing new except for the outward designs and improved reliability. As designs have become perfected over the years, newer machines run much quieter than older models.
It has also become possible to produce much smaller portable units, though the traditionally large "whole house" models are still available, and are more popular than ever