A startup has dreamed up a device to ease some of the burden of doing laundry.
It's called the FoldiMate, a home robot designed to fold your clean clothes all by itself with professional skill and quality results. About the size of a standard domestic washer or dryer and with a big ticket price to match ($700 to $850), the appliance will apparently grab garments within its reach, pull them inside its innards for processing, then spit out piles of smartly stacked and crisply folded clothing.
The quest for making laundry chores less onerous isn't new. Manufacturers of washing machines and clothes dryers have added special steam cycles to their products that promise to remove wrinkles (and even odors) from garments so you'll spend less time ironing. Lately, other laundry gadgets with lofty claims have come to market, such as the LG Styler and Whirlpool Swash. These machines are designed to "refresh" delicate items at home to cut down on pricey trips to the dry cleaners. And the Foldimate isn't the first folding machine we've come across. Last year at the CEATEC consumer electronics show in Tokyo, we saw a garment-folding solution called the Laundroid that managed to fold a dress shirt in about five minutes.
But companies have yet to give consumers products that can actually hold up to human performance. Steam washer and dryer cycles can smooth out wrinkled fabrics, but cannot dispel them entirely. Sadly, the Styler and Swash don't actually remove dirt from your clothes the way regular washing machines do, nor do they press as well as an old-school iron, and they are limited to tackling a few (or one) item at a time.
Unfortunately, the FoldiMate seems to have similar limitations and sounds even more complicated to use. For instance, you can't just dump mounds of apparel into the FoldiMate all at once and expect it to sort everything out. To use the FoldiMate, you must first clip individual garments such as shirts, sweaters and pants onto the horizontal racks on the front of the machine.
The inner workings of the FoldiMate do sound intriguing -- if the product works as the company promises. The FoldiMate draws clipped clothing into an inner chamber where a series of mechanisms robotically flip, fold and flatten cloth items into shape. FoldiMate also subjects clothes in the chamber to a special treatment similar to the Whirlpool Swash that includes steam, perfume and fabric softeners. The result, say the people behind FoldiMate, will be garments that are neatly folded, expertly layered and ready for your wardrobe. The machine is supposed to be swift too, tackling laundry loads twice as fast as you would if you folded them manually.
If you're dreaming of owning a FoldiMate device of your own, you have a bit of a wait in store. While the startup behind FoldiMate says they will begin taking preorders in 2017, the unit isn't expected to ship until sometime in 2018 and will cost between $700 to $850. If you want the dewrinkling feature, you'll have to fork over an additional $200 to $300 plus the cost of treatment capsules ($15 to $40 each).
More details about FoldiMate
- Can handle medium-sized items like shirts, pants and towels
- Can't fold small or large items like underwear, socks and bed sheets
- Clip capacity is 15 to 20 garments
- Takes 10 seconds to fold one item, 20 to 30 seconds to dewrinkle
- Measures 28x32x31 inches (71cm x 81cm x 79cm) and weighs 66 pounds (30kg)
- Dimensions similar to typical home clothes dryer
- Uses standard 110V / 220V electrical power