The startup behind the world’s first laundry robot has folded

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Laundroid, so long, we barely knew you. Although it was first announced nearly three years ago and then shown off during CES 2018 to a fair amount of intrigue and derision, the company behind it – Japan’s Seven Dreamers – has gone bankrupt. Reports indicate the company may have racked up as much as $200 million in debt as it struggles to bring the product to market.

Landroid never got past vaporware. Instead, the $16,000 price tag and frustratingly slow folding was clearly too high a price to be sustainable. The company didn’t show up at CES 2019, though competitor Foldimate is back for a second year, with a price target under $1,000.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience we have caused our shareholders, customers, business partners and related parties,” the company said in a statement posted on its website.

Although Laundroid appears to be dead, the company says it will continue to work in the healthcare sector. Seven Dreamers is working on a nasal insertion device that helps prevent snoring called Nastent, and the company said it will continue to develop that product “for the foreseeable future.”

Seven Dreamer’s failure could be a warning to companies looking to bring robotics into the home. While we increasingly buy robot vacuum cleaners, mobs, and depend on virtual assistants of all kinds, just like for everything else, we’re not going to break the bank for it.

The company had grandiose dreams of finally becoming an intricate part of the modern wardrobe; eventually, it could even organize clothes by each family member by tracking what went through the machine. However, the horrendously slow assembly time and sometimes erratic operation made the $16,000 price tag look even worse.

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Foldimate, to its credit, has a working prototype that can fold a shirt five times seconds and realizes that no one will buy it if the price is not right. Sure, you’re still doing a lot of work, but at least it doesn’t require a mortgage.

But the question remains whether this is just a solution in search of a problem, and whether we should all just stop being so lazy.

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