I happened to be folding laundry in front of the TV — one of those mindless but essential chores we must all do — when what would my glassy eyes spot but a segment on a new technology that does this task for you. I was all ears.
I have a post-doctoral degree in folding laundry. I know how to pleat and crease and double up with the efficiency of a mother of five whose four boys played years of sports. Millions of laundry loads later, I can fold clothes with my feet. With my eyes closed. While sipping a piña colada. On a bike pedaling uphill.
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That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not searching for alternatives, even now that those Himalayas of dirty clothes have been reduced to mere Appalachian foothills.
Turns out there are actually two devices that can accomplish this onerous chore, the Foldimate and the Laundroid. The Foldimate can fold a load of laundry in four minutes, which even on my best days beats my time. There’s a catch, however: You have to feed each piece in, individually. The Laundroid takes longer, but it folds from a drawer of clothes.
Still … still, you can imagine my excitement. I Googled the robots on my smartphone right then and there. The Foldimate bills itself as family friendly, so simple now everyone in the family can help fold the laundry. (Insert bitter belly laugh right here. Haha.) “So neat,” the Foldimate website crows, “your closet will be organized, just the way you’ve always wanted.”
The Laundroid also promises to be “sublimely easy” to operate. What’s more “the dedicated app for operating Laundroid enables visualization on its interface of the frequency with which previously registered items of clothing are worn.” OK, hold it right there. Any explanation that contains app, interface and previously registered in one sentence is enough to cast a long, dark shadow of doubt over my desire to own anything.
Furthermore, neither folding robot does sheets. Or socks. Really? No socks? Matching them and folding them together is the worst. If you ask me, that right there is a big deficiency in the design. And no sheets? Come on! Folding those massive pieces of fabrics is like wrestling a soapy 3-year-old. Believe me, if I have to do socks and sheets I might as well fold the easy stuff. It’s my only chance of catching up with my TV shows.
Of course, that’s not the only thing stopping me from rushing to the store. The price tags are enough to stop anyone in mid-fold. It’s a cool $16,000 for the Laundroid, though the Foldimate, at $980, is more affordable.
Both gadgets were introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show, a mesmerizing annual event that allows us to take a peek into a Star Trek-like future. It’s held, quite appropriately, in Las Vegas and attracts gobs of attention because most people are just like me: We love the wildly impractical and dream of all the possible ways we can stop working so hard just to keep ourselves presentable. CES is well-known for introducing all the devices we never knew we needed. Just a few years back, for example, no one was remotely aware that we required a cute little bracelet to tell us how many steps we’ve taken and how many hours we’ve slept.
This year, as in the past, there were quite a few interesting inventions. My favorite? Kohler’s internet-connected toilet. It responds to voice commands, so you can ask your assistant (Google’s, Apple’s or Amazon’s) to flush it. The toilet also has speakers to play your favorite tunes. Just what my heart has always pined for!
Starting at $5,625 and available later this year, I sure hope it keeps people regular at that eye-popping price.