Japan: Panasonic contributes $60m to laundry-folding robot due to launch in 2017
WILL folding laundry soon become a thing of the past? It could – as soon as next year, as Japanese multinational electronics corporation Panasonic pumps US$60 million of funding into automatic laundry-folding machine startup, Laundroid, which goes on sale next year in Japan.
A laundry-folding machine sounds brilliant! you might be thinking. But don’t get too excited: at the moment, Laundroid is the size of a refrigerator and takes anywhere between five to 10 minutes to fold a single garment.
As unappealing as that might sound though, it’s Laundroid’s insides that are of interest. The huge appliance uses a mix of robotics, artificial intelligence, and image recognition to fold your clothes and stack them onto shelves within.
The contraption works like this: you toss your unsorted, hopefully-clean clothes into a pull-out drawer, and then wait for the machine to pick and spread each item out, figure out what is using its technology, and fold it accordingly.
It’s probably not the right appliance for someone who likes their clothes folded a certain way, but it’ll do for anyone who despises the tedium of folding endless piles of laundry. It can also sort the folded laundry by item or by family member, according to its website.
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Laundroid was developed by Japanese robotics company Seven Dreamers. There are no indications as to how much the appliance could be, but it’s not likely to come cheap. However, Tech in Asia speculates it has a future in retail or the hotel industry, where folding vast amounts of garments is a crucial part of the business.
Panasonic’s contribution to Laundroid’s funding is a sign of its commitment to investing in AI tech, as it continues to develop its electrical appliance range and pre-empt for future robotics trends.