Would you pay $1,000 to outsource your most hated chore to a giant robot? That's the question FoldiMate, the company behind the laundry-folding robot of the same name, once again asks us to consider.
The company, which we last year dubbed our favorite bad idea of CES, is back with a new demo of the laundry-folding machine, which it says might actually be available by the end of the year.
This is the third CES in a row that FoldiMate has promised us a future without folding laundry, but it's the first year the company has demonstrated a fully functioning prototype of the concept. In that sense, at least, the company didn't disappoint.
During a brief demo, I was able to fold three shirts just by feeding them into the FoldiMate's robotic arms. Sure enough, each time, the robot dutifully clamped onto the items and spit out a neatly folded garment a few seconds later.
Was it enough to convince me that a giant laundry-folding robot is actually a good idea after all? I'm not sure.
The process isn't quite as effortless as I'd hoped for a $1,000 appliance — items need to go one at a time, and you have to make sure the clothing is centered and turned the right way. But it was certainly more fun than sorting laundry the normal way, an admittedly low bar. And the clothes definitely came out much neater than when I fold my own laundry (also, I am ashamed to admit, a relatively low bar).
The company says the Foldimate, which is about the size of a small washing machine, can handle 25 items in less than five minutes (though the drawer that dispenses the folded clothes maxes out at about 10-15 items so you can't leave it unattended for too long).
There are just a few caveats to all this: FoldiMate can't fold smaller items, so you won't be able to use it on socks, underwear, or baby clothes. It also might end up costing even more than the company's current estimate of about a thousand bucks. There's also no guarantee that the thing will actually be ready in 2019. The FoldiMate rep I spoke with repeatedly emphasized the "long and costly manufacturing process."
But if none of that deters you, then the company is currently adding people to a waitlist, in case you want to be among the first to get your hands on a FoldiMate of your own.