shown in Figure 3 is much smaller
and possibly much less expensive than
the Laundroid. FoldiMate is a San
Francisco based start-up that has
made a robot that will fold your
clothes. It supposedly will fold shirts in
10 seconds or less. After the folding
sequence, it also steams them and
sprays your choice of fragrance with
two available options. When it hits the
market this year, it will cost about
Figures 4 and 5 show someone
removing laundry from a dryer and
then clipping it to a rack on the front
of the FoldiMate. That ‘clipping’ step
might account for the FoldiMate being
much faster than the Laundroid.
Though certainly not applicable for all
homes, the FoldiMate could be a
better fit for the average household
than the Laundroid.
I’ve seen my wife fold a tee shirt
in under 10 seconds and a whole
bunch of laundry loads in less than 10
minutes (although sorting and pairing
my almost look-alike socks that I got
at Costco does take a bit longer).
I’m sure that selecting a shirt,
pulling it straight, and clipping it to a
FoldiMate will take more time per
shirt that a typical person folding a
single piece of laundry.
So, why would someone need a
robot the size of a large refrigerator
to do the same chore for thousands
of dollars? Even a large family with
multiple children that are into many
sports and activities would not really
need a clothes-folding robot in my
Tasks that Could be
Improved by Robots
You might have perused the
Internet and/or news outlets and
found similar products to the laundry-folding robots that you feel aren’t
necessary or could potentially have
unpleasant consequences for an
intended user. You’ve looked at
several robot designs and have seen
that the strategies and platforms that
the creator has selected cannot be
changed into a successful device.
Perhaps this is where you could pick
up from to create a marketable robot
that serves a genuine purpose.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve
looked at different markets for your
product. You’ve checked out past
industrial, commercial, and medical
uses, and are zeroing in on the
personal home category. You’ve also
noted that home consumers can be
just as demanding as any industrial,
military, or other commercial buyers.
Millions of Low Cost
Vacuum Cleaners Sold
Doing a bit of study on the
personal home market, you have
noted that a best-selling robot cannot
be too expensive. You also realize that
lower profits from a less expensive
product that is sold in the millions can
be very profitable. A good example of
this strategy is the company, iRobot.
They first looked at industrial vacuum
cleaners for stores, office buildings,
and the like. Designs were complex
and expensive to produce.
They made the wise decision to
change over to a home robot vacuum
cleaner, and the result was the very
successful Roomba series that has sold
over 15 million units. The profits from
their successful military robots sold in
the thousands cannot match the
multi-million dollar profits of the
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Advances in robots and robotics over the years.
SERVO 08.2017 61
Figure 4. Removing laundry from a dryer to the
Foldimate laundry folder.
Figure 5. User clips dried laundry onto
Figure 3. The FoldiMate