每日跟讀#563: Take a Load Off. The Robots That Fold Laundry Are Coming
Cars can now drive themselves. Cellphones talk to us. How long will it be until the dreams of every college student and overworked parent come true — and laundry can fold itself?
At least two companies are promising to bring laundry-folding robots for the home to market by the end of 2017. Known as Laundroid and FoldiMate, both machines work by analyzing each garment they take in, figuring out its ideal folding shape and delivering a drawer-ready stack of smoothly folded clothes.
Laundroid is slightly smaller than a typical refrigerator and looks like the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” except with drawers. The robot arms are inside.
The FoldiMate, more compact, has large clips dangling outside, making it look like a mashup of a clothesline and a plastic oven.
A working prototype of Laundroid — backed by about $90 million in investment capital, including funds from George Roberts and Henry Kravis of the buyout firm KKR — is set to be publicly demonstrated at the end of this month in Tokyo. It will retail — only in Japan, at first — for about $16,000. Seven Dreamers, the company introducing Laundroid, aims to bring the cost down to $2,000 a unit and begin international sales by next year.
Judging from the intensity of the entrepreneurship going on in the field of laundry, most people would rather watch a video of Marie Kondo, author of the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,”folding a T-shirt so well it stands on its own than to actually do it with their own hands.
There’s the iBasket, a laundry hamper that automatically washes clothes when full; EcoWasher, promising “detergent-free laundry”; and DashLocker, an app-based urban laundry service.
The Whirlpool Corp., owner of the Maytag brand, is also aggressively tinkering. The company plans to introduce in January an all-in-one $1,700 washer/dryer hybrid featuring a detergent reservoir that decides on the proper portion per load, squirts it into the basin unassisted and wirelessly reorders from Amazon when empty.
“There is a high level of excitement around innovating in laundry,” said Danielle Whah, Whirlpool’s North America product director for laundry.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/314016/web/