Short of taking out the trash and cleaning the floors, laundry might be the most dreaded household chore, yet it’s an essential part of everyday life. In fact it’s such an essential part, one study found that mothers on average spend five months of their entire lives doing laundry, and other studies have shown that the average person spends an entire year dealing with dirty clothes. Thankfully there’s a new breed of companies using technology to redefine the way people clean and collect their threads; they want you to have a laundry folding machine.
FoldiMate, a company based out of Foster City, California, is on a mission to save marriages across the globe with their (relatively affordable) laundry folding robot called the FoldiMate Family™. It’s a device small enough to fit on top of your washer or dryer, but powerful enough to handle most types of laundry – there are some exceptions like certain heavy items (e.g., bed sheets), certain larger items (e.g., towels), and certain small items such (e.g., underwear and socks).
At the core of the FoldiMate is the patented Easy Clipping™ technology that enables the people to clip individual items to the machine in about five seconds. From there, the machine can de-wrinkle pieces of clothing in ~20-30 seconds and fold the individual items in ~10 seconds. Users are able to queue 15-20 items of clothing on average, and the FoldiMate tray can hold 10 to 30 items depending on thickness.
FoldiMate pricing starts at about $700 (exact pricing has yet to be defined for the base unit). The steaming add-on will start at around $200 and (optional) perfume/softening capsules will retail for ~$15-$40 each. The device will also have built-in internet connectivity which will enable, as the company promises, the automatic addition of new forms of bending and folding to its repertoire.
Users who pay a fully-refundable $10 down payment are eligible to receive 10% off each unit they pre-order. On their website, you can sign up to find out exactly when pre-orders are available; so far over 67,000 people have registered for this notification. The estimated ship date of a commercial product (starting with fully paid pre-orders) is sometime in 2018, as at the moment, the company has yet to release a fully functional prototype.
Since being founded in 2012 (and running a flopped Kickstarter campaign that only raised $11K of their requested $500K), FoldiMate has raised $500,000 in seed funding. The 5-man team behind FoldiMate has over two decades of combined experience in essential fields such as product management, robotic development, and industrial design and fabrication.
Although innovative and space-friendly, FoldiMate isn’t the only autonomous laundry machine to be hitting the market. Seven Dreamers Laboratories Inc. (in partnership with Panasonic and Daiwa House Industry), a company based out of Japan, announced the Laundroid last year and has given demonstrations of the technology at several technology trade shows.
This is a very different product from the FoldiMate Family when it comes to the numbers; Laundroid is about the size of a refrigerator and apparently takes five to ten minutes to fold a shirt, requiring about three to six hours to handle 40 items. According to the company website, the product took a decade to bring to market. If they don’t do something about the size and the design, it may take even longer to make a sale.
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