Spring cleaning just got easier...maybe. Attach the Windowmate to each side of your window, and it'll make its way in Zamboni-like rows until both sides of the pane are clean. It's essentially a robot mop with sponges attached to the base that works vertically.
The Windowmate is on display here at thethis week. And it chugged along diligently during a demonstration. Apparently, the Windowmate can clean for 90 minutes straight on a full charge, though it takes two and a half hours to charge.
It cleans both sides of the window simultaneously because it attaches to the glass with magnets. One half of the body sits on either side of the pane, so they hold each other in place. The advantage of that is the robot won't fall off your window if it loses power. The Windowmate representative at IFA told me the magnets are strong enough to withstand wind as well. The disadvantage: You have to be able to reach both sides of the glass simultaneously to put the Windowmate in place.
If you have a window that doesn't open, you're probably out of luck unless you send someone outside with the other half of the robot. Plus, the Windowmate orients itself by the frame, so you have to detach it and put it back up for each different pane of glass you want to clean.
I can't think of a window in any home I've ever lived where using the Windowmate would make more sense than grabbing some paper towel and Windex. Store owners, though, might find it more useful, and that's the primary intended market for the bot. Still, it's a cool concept -- I'd certainly like a robot to take window cleaning off my plate.
The model on display at IFA is the second edition of the Windowmate. The first launched in Japan only, but this one's coming to Europe as well, where it'll retail for 500 euros, which converts roughly to $560, £420 or AU$740. A Windowmate representative told me of plans to bring the bot to the US as well, perhaps in 2017.
Maybe the product will be a little more refined and make more sense as a consumer device by the time it launches in the US. Regardless, I'm happy to know window cleaning robots are out there.