Seven Dreamers Laboratories Inc (Tokyo) will start to accept pre-orders for an automatic laundry folder that it has been developing in cooperation with Panasonic Corp and Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd in March 2017.

The three companies organized an event to announce the laundry folder, “/laundroid1,” at Ceatec Japan 2016, which runs from Oct 4 to 7, 2016, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, and demonstrated a prototype.

To fold laundry, there are five necessary processes: grabbing, spreading, recognizing, folding and sorting/storing. Seven Dreamers realized the automatic laundry folder by using image recognition technology and AI (artificial intelligence) to recognize laundry and robotics technologies to appropriately fold and place the recognized laundry.

In the demonstration at Ceatec Japan 2015, where Seven Dreamers announced that it was developing the laundry folder, the company demonstrated only two processes: recognizing and folding. This year, however, the company showed all of the five processes, which took five to 10 minutes.

Moreover, Seven Dreamers demonstrated functions to separate towels from T-shirts, sort T-shirts by color and sort laundry by owner.

When dry clothes are thrown into a box located in the lower part of the folder after being washed, the folder recognizes and folds them and stores them in a storage rack in the central part of the folder after sorting.

The dimensions of the prototype are approximately 87 (W) x 80 (D) x 210cm (H), but the product is planned to be smaller. Especially, Seven Dreamers plans to reduce the depth so that the folder can be easily installed.

The first model of the product, for which pre-orders will start to be accepted in March 2017, is scheduled to be shipped in the same fiscal year. Seven Dreamers did not disclose the price or sales target, saying that it will announce them before starting to accept pre-orders.

However, Shinichi Sakane, president and CEO of the company, said, “It depends on the number of units shipped, but we aim to eventually set a price lower than ¥200,000 (approximately US$1,947), hopefully in five years.”

In regard to the robotics technologies used for the arms that handle clothes, etc, Sakane did not disclose the details. However, he said, “If industrial robots had been applied, it would have cost too much.”