As a species, we’ve managed to automate two-thirds of the laundry process. We’ve ditched washboards for washing machines and clotheslines for dryers. But until now, folding has remained frustratingly manual. That might change with the FoldiMate, a robotic laundry folding machine.
The FoldiMate is made by a California-based startup of the same (kind of unfortunate) name that presented their product concept at CES last year. This year, the company debuted a working prototype. It’s about four feet tall, two feet wide, and a little over two feet deep, which means it’s likely compact enough to fit in your laundry room or closet.
Near the top of the FoldiMate, there’s a small door where a mechanism with three clips slides out over a tray. The larger, elevated middle clip is for pants and towels; it clamps onto them folded in half, lengthwise, to fit in the narrow machine. The smaller clips on each side of the tray clamp onto the shoulders of shirts laid flat on the tray.
Once your garment is clipped, the mechanism pulls it into the machine. It disappears for a few seconds before emerging on another tray that emerges, laden with a neatly piled stack of clothes, as the machine lights up and plays a pleasant chime, as if to remind you of the time you just saved.
You can continuously feed items into the FoldiMate; there’s no need to wait for it to finish folding an item before feeding another in. You’ll only need to pause to empty the tray as it fills up, every 10-15 items, depending on thickness.
The makers of the FoldiMate claim that it can fold shirts and pants sized from age 6 to adult size XXL, along with standard towels and pillowcases. It’s still in prototype, so its vague release date (late 2019) and “target price” ($980) could easily change. but we’re excited that technology is coming to complete the automated laundry trinity once and for all.