Rights & Money

Washer, Dryer,…Folder?

The future is here and it’s taking the folding out of doing the laundry.

By Katrina Caruso

If you can set aside at least $980 by the end of 2018, you could find yourself living in a home equipped with a machine that folds your clothes. Two companies are working towards getting their laundry-folding robots on the market in the near future.
Named FoldiMate and Laundroid, the units under development are about the size of washing machines and refrigerators, respectively, and while they’ll take a tedious job off your hands, they don’t do all the work for you. With Foldimate, from an Israeli-based company partnering with the German-owned appliance company BSH, you can’t simply toss a pile of clothes into the machine and open the door to find them miraculously folded: blouses must be bouttoned, for example. Laundroid, from the Japanese company Seven Dreamers partnered with Panasonic, allows you to put a load of laundry in all at once, but the time it takes to fold is much longer: 5–10 minutes per garment with Laundroid versus 2–4 minutes for 20–40 items with FoldiMate. And there are limits to the machines’ folding expertise: towels are fine, but FoldiMate’s current prototype can’t fold baby clothes, socks, underwear, or clothes larger than a men’s XXL.
Although there are clearly some kinks to iron out, there’s obviously interest in these products. Foldimate claims to have more than 8,000 pre-orders and several angel investors, while the Laundroid has $90 million in capital backed by KKR, a private equity invest firm.

Photo: iStock/NYS444.