Folding Table Project
17 June 2019
Did you know that your laundry is manually folded by a human even today, in the age of Machine Learning and Hololens?
The fact that it still requires a person and about 15 minutes to fold an average sized 20 lbs bag is nonsense, but it's still true and with constantly rising minimum wage, each bag of laundry costs around $6 just in payroll alone. Add weekly laundry flactuations where you need to have an extra 20-30% workforce of capacity idle just in case of no shows, vacations, sick days etc, we arrive at about $8 per bag in folding labor costs alone. Any medium to large size laundry operation requires army of people manually folding clothes.
Many startups tried tackling that problem by trying to use new technologies, they even automated burger, coffee and even more complex dish creation by robots, laundry however with complexity of sizes and varieties of items is still far behind everyone else.
Seven Dreamers Inc. japanese startup that developed "laundroid", a closet that will fold your laundry for you, no intervention required, all you need to do is to load dry laundry into the bottom compartment. Till they went bankrupt early 2019. Despite backing by San Francisco based VC's and Panasonic in 3 rounds total over $95M. Unfortunately that was not enough to bring product into reality.
Another startup FoldiMate raised close to $9M, however they are not trying to bring all in 1 folding machine. You still need to fold your items half way and pin them to machine's inlet. And it can not stack more than 10 pieces of clothing at once, so you need to keep picking folded items off the tray. As of this writing it has not been launched yet, it might follow the same destiny as laundroid.
Meanwhile armies of people all around the world manually folding laundry every day. If there was a task or a skill not important to have, folding laundry would be the first on the list, it's a huge waste of time and money. And it costs businesses billions of dollars every year in labor costs.
Feeling empowered by engineering background, i decided to build a table that could fold any piece of clothing if you lay it flat over it. It will be able to stack upto 20 lbs of laundry or one regular sized bag. It took about a month to engineer it and draw up the schematics. A week and $1200 of materials and computer/mechanical pieces later "Folding Table" was born.
It still requires some twicking and working, but it looks like we might have the first functional folding robot after all. Designed and assembled in New York. But all jokes aside, we trully hope someone will soon solve that problem and will come up with the device that can quickly fold laundry without supervision.