A working prototype of Laundroid â backed by about $90 million in investment capital, including funds from George Roberts and Henry Kravis of the buyout firm KKR â is set to be publicly demonstrated at the end of this month in Tokyo. It will retail â only in Japan, at first â for about $16,000. Seven Dreamers, the company introducing Laundroid, aims to bring the cost down to $2,000 a unit and begin international sales by next year.
Judging from the intensity of the entrepreneurship going on in the field of laundry, most people would rather watch a video of Marie Kondo, author of the book âThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,â folding a T-shirt so well it stands on its own than to actually do it with their own hands.
The Whirlpool Corporation, owner of the Maytag brand, is also aggressively tinkering. The company plans to introduce in January an all-in-one $1,700 washer/dryer hybrid featuring a detergent reservoir that decides on the proper portion per load, squirts it into the basin unassisted and wirelessly reorders from Amazon when empty.
âThere is a high level of excitement around innovating in laundry,â said Danielle Whah, Whirlpoolâs North America product director for laundry.
Neither Laundroid, which was invented in Japan, nor FoldiMate, being developed in Israel by an American company, can express existential ennui as Rosey the Jetsonsâ robot did, or interface with your Roomba or your Wi-Fi-enabled Mr. Coffee to create a seamless automated washing, vacuuming and caffeinating experience. But they do seem to be a crucial advance for in-home automation, where a thinking machine lends a genuinely…