If you don’t need a separate dishwasher from a dish dryer, why would you need one for laundry? This is the question that Glenn Reid of Marathon Laundry – former Apple employee who worked with Steve Jobs – has been trying to answer for six years.
Five years and seven prototypes later, the tech visionary launched his startup’s first product—an internet-connected combination washer and dryer at the CES this month. While the idea of having a single washing and drying device is by no means new, a ventless dryer combined with a washer with the performance of separate dryers is first of its kind. Priced at $1,200, which is the standard pricing for combination washer and dryer, Reid seeks to change electrical appliances with Marathon Laundry the way Tesla has changed cars.
Like Tesla, Marathon chose an approach that leverages existing manufacturing for the core components of washers and dryers, adding value in specific components that are unique to Marathon, such as the electronic controller and dryer interface, according to Reid. Although the approach is rooted from the challenge of manufacturing large appliances, but by using standard components and manufacturing paths for the rest of the machines, Marathon effectively leverages both the existing vendors and manufacturers as well as the parts, maintenance, and service infrastructures already in place for existing machines.
In the current home appliance market, approximately 90 to 95 percent of the products are not connected to the internet, according to Scott Steinberg, Futuristic Trends Expert and Author of Make Change Work For You. But like most smart appliances, Marathon Laundry sets its course to change that. “This concept of connecting an appliance to the internet may seem silly at first. Yet, with a contentious resource such as a laundry machine, the status and management is much more relevant than, say, a refrigerator, whose status each day is, ‘yes, I’m still at 39º F, just like yesterday,’” Reid argued. The machine can download new software in seconds like Tesla cars or Nest thermostats. With built in state-of-the-art mobile and cloud solutions for tracking and managing your laundry, the single washer-dryer device can also manage scheduling, availability, history and energy consumption. Just as Tesla collects data from the cars it sells to improve its “Autopilot” self-driving mode, The Marathon learns your habits, remembers your preferences and makes recommendations based on what items are in the machine. Advanced electronics and sensors equip the Marathon with limitless possibilities. It even has a camera to recognize colors, determine load size, and maybe some day to read the Care instructions on your garments and provide the best possible laundry experience.
By way of using the internet to tailoring the laundry experience to the customers’ unique preferences, Marathon Laundry could simplify the whole process altogether. Introducing a sophisticated touchscreen interface to replace buttons like ‘Delicates’ makes the user interface both intuitive and powerful, Reid added that “there’s really no reason for a washing machine to have as many controls as it does, since there are really only two things that matter: water temperature and time.” In simplifying the features, Marathon Laundry only has 10” touchscreen interface and smartphone app remove the guesswork. This concept mirrors Tesla in a way that points to one of today’s most important trends—“the humanization of technology,” noted the Futuristic Trends Expert.
Ultimately, there is a greater implication to how Marathon Laundry changes appliances. In Steinberg’s opinion, the way Marathon Laundry leads the market in the realm of CELectrical grids (The Smart Grid)—an initiative to allow appliances that use electricity to engage in dialog with the utilities to find the best times to run, in return for a better rate structure and better energy savings, and the brand’s embracing of the Internet of Things mirror a larger trend where everything becomes smarter, more connected and more efficient. “With these appliances becoming easier to use, it is inevitable that we assimilate technology further into our daily lives,” he said.