2017年6月16日 星期五

Take a Load Off. The Robots That Fold Laundry Are Coming像個箱子! 摺衣機器人年底問世

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2017/06/16 第175期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Take a Load Off. The Robots That Fold Laundry Are Coming像個箱子! 摺衣機器人年底問世
Part Office Building,Part Homeless Shelter亞馬遜新大樓 內建遊民收容所
Take a Load Off. The Robots That Fold Laundry Are Coming像個箱子! 摺衣機器人年底問世
文/Allen Salkin
Cars can now drive themselves. Cellphones talk to us. How long will it be until the dreams of every college student and overworked parent come true — and laundry can fold itself?

At least two companies are promising to bring laundry-folding robots for the home to market by the end of 2017. Known as Laundroid and FoldiMate, both machines work by analyzing each garment they take in, figuring out its ideal folding shape and delivering a drawer-ready stack of smoothly folded clothes.



Laundroid is slightly smaller than a typical refrigerator and looks like the monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey," except with drawers. The robot arms are inside.

The FoldiMate, more compact, has large clips dangling outside, making it look like a mashup of a clothesline and a plastic oven.

A working prototype of Laundroid — backed by about $90 million in investment capital, including funds from George Roberts and Henry Kravis of the buyout firm KKR — is set to be publicly demonstrated at the end of this month in Tokyo. It will retail — only in Japan, at first — for about $16,000. Seven Dreamers, the company introducing Laundroid, aims to bring the cost down to $2,000 a unit and begin international sales by next year.






Judging from the intensity of the entrepreneurship going on in the field of laundry, most people would rather watch a video of Marie Kondo, author of the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,"folding a T-shirt so well it stands on its own than to actually do it with their own hands.

There's the iBasket, a laundry hamper that automatically washes clothes when full; EcoWasher, promising "detergent-free laundry"; and DashLocker, an app-based urban laundry service.



The Whirlpool Corp., owner of the Maytag brand, is also aggressively tinkering. The company plans to introduce in January an all-in-one $1,700 washer/dryer hybrid featuring a detergent reservoir that decides on the proper portion per load, squirts it into the basin unassisted and wirelessly reorders from Amazon when empty.

"There is a high level of excitement around innovating in laundry," said Danielle Whah, Whirlpool's North America product director for laundry.



Part Office Building,Part Homeless Shelter亞馬遜新大樓 內建遊民收容所
文/Nick Wingfield

A year ago, when Amazon let a homeless shelter for families move into a former motel it owned, it was viewed as a nice but fleeting gesture.

The motel was on a chunk of downtown property where Amazon planned to eventually erect yet another set of sparkling buildings to meet its insatiable need for office space in this city. The hotel would be torn down and the shelter kicked out when that time came.



Instead, Amazon has decided to let the shelter stay. In an unusual arrangement, the company has agreed to give the shelter, Mary's Place, a permanent home inside one of the new office buildings for which it will break ground in the fall.

Amazon will give roughly half of the six-story building to the shelter, providing it with 47,000 square feet of space with private rooms that can hold 65 families, or about 220 people and their pets. The facility, expected to open in early 2020, will have its own entrance and elevators.



"I see it as this huge gift because everywhere we go, we end up leaving," said Marty Hartman, the executive director of Mary's Place, which runs seven transitional shelters around the Seattle area meant to house families until they can find permanent homes. "You come in and become a fabric of the neighborhood you're in, and then you say goodbye. That's a hard thing for a lot of people to do."

In an interview at the current Mary's Place site owned by Amazon, which was bustling with families returning to the shelter for the evening, John Schoettler, Amazon's vice president for global real estate and facilities, said the company would spend "tens of millions of dollars" on the design and construction of the shelter's portion of the building. Amazon will pay the utilities for Mary's Place, which will occupy the space rent free, although the organization will continue to pay its own staff.



Schoettler said Amazon originally allowed the shelter to stay in the motel because of the severity of Seattle's homelessness crisis, which had prompted the city's mayor to declare a state of emergency in 2015. Schoettler said Amazon was impressed by Mary's Place, and he described its plan to give the shelter a permanent home as an investment in the neighborhood.

In San Francisco, Google, Salesforce.com and others have funded a campaign to find permanent housing for homeless people. But Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said she was unaware of any other private corporation integrating a homeless shelter into its building.

舒特勒說,亞馬遜最初允許收容所搬進汽車旅館,是因西雅圖遊民危機十分嚴重。遊民危機2015年時促使西雅圖市長宣布進入緊急狀態。舒特勒說, 亞馬遜被瑪麗之家給打動了,他把亞馬遜計畫給收容所一個長久的家這件事,稱為該公司對當地社區的一項投資。

在舊金山,谷歌、Salesforce.com 和其他公司都在資助替無家可歸者尋找固定住處的一項運動。不過,華盛頓特區非營利宣導團體「終結無家可歸全國聯盟」總裁南恩.羅曼說,據她所知,沒有任何其他私人公司讓遊民收容所進住他們的大樓。



總部位於美國西雅圖的亞馬遜是跨國電子商務(cross-border e-commerce)公司,2016年4月亞馬遜在西雅圖市中心購買了一家舊汽車旅館(motel),讓它成為「瑪麗之家」收容所的暫住之家(temporary home)。亞馬遜購買旅館,旨在擴建公司的工作園區,今秋將拆除旅館,空出土地興建數棟大樓。「瑪麗之家」僅是暫時離開,預計2020年重返其中一棟大樓,從此擁有永遠的家(permanent home)。

各企業行善作法不同,亞馬遜決定讓遊民之家(homeless shelter)整合進入(integrate)公司大樓,可能開美國先河。

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