In a move that takes advantage of image recognition and robotics technologies, a Tokyo-based company is showcasing an unusual home appliance at the CEATEC trade fair.

The invention, heralded as a world first by manufacturer Seven Dreamers Laboratories, is an automated laundry-folding robot, dubbed “Laundroid.” The company is introducing the robot for the first time at CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies), the nation’s biggest IT-electronics fair, held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture until Oct. 10.

Seven Dreamers Laboratories said people spend an inordinate number of hours folding laundry during their lifetimes, yet there are no machines to do the task, despite the availability of automated washing and drying machines.

Laundroid, currently a prototype about the size of refrigerator, can fold a T-shirt in about 5 to 10 minutes, the firm said. But it aims to shorten that and also reduce the product’s size by the time it hits the consumer market in 2017.

The core technologies of Laundroid are image recognition and robotics, according to the firm.

When laundry is put inside Laundroid, it attempts to recognize the type of clothing. Laundroid’s robot arms then begin folding it.

The company said it aimed to sell Laundroid to nursing care facilities from 2018, and hoped to create an in-built home version, such as a unit combined with closets, by 2020.

The company said it had partnered with Panasonic Corp. and Daiwa House Industries Co. to jointly develop and sell the product.

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