The FoldBot is a direct and valuable solution to the burden of folding clean clothes. The FoldBot apparatus is a slender yet sturdy mechanical device that resembles a ball-jointed cylinder when at rest. The robotic tool sits in a charger that plugs into the wall when not in use and can be rolled to another location when folding is required. When activated, the FoldBot extends its arms to a make a large “T” shape with several jointed appendages that are flexible and capable of folding fabric. The system comes with a deck of barcodes located on clear stickers that can be tattooed onto each piece of clothing that the user would like to have automatically folded. The barcoded print is washer, dryer, and chemical friendly so it will not fade or become corrupt. The barcode is recognizable by the digital readers at the tips of the device arms. The barcode gives valuable information about the shape and size of the garment. The robotic arms are positioned directly in front of a standard sized, rectangular shaped basket full of clean clothing. The consumer is asked to pile clothes as high as the “pile to” line as not to overextend the folding device. In a perpendicular position next to the full basket, an empty basket is placed as a container for completed pieces of clothing. The FoldBot reaches its mechanical arms into the pile and reads a barcode. Based on the type of clothing, the automated appliance grips the piece in the appropriate places, moves its extremities in several folding motions, and transports the folded piece over to the basket set aside for finished laundry. Once the pileof clothes has been depleted and transferred into the completed basket, the FoldBot returns to its at-rest position and continues charging.
Although the struggles in the laundry room and during the laundry process are many, the most effective and efficient upgrades to the consumer experience appear to be in decreasing actual labor as opposed to the evolution of various supplemental cleaning products. As noted by Mintel’s consumer survey, adults aged 18-34 are less likely than older adults to keep a variety of specialized laundry products on hand. Innovative appliances, not products alone, appear to hold the key to easing the burden.