Bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orbs? Are you kidding?
The alleged future of laundry lands on Kickstarter
If you're one of those still waiting impatiently for the bloody flying car and robot butler we were promised back in the 1950s, and need a consolation quick fix of 21st-century domestic tech, then have a shufti at the Crystal Wash 2.0 - a bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orb currently the subject of a Kickstarter tin-rattle.
So, take one Crystal Wash "bioceramic" ball, embed some electronics in it and suddenly you have the means to communicate wirelessly with the interior of your washing machine. Just slap the app onto your smartmobe or whatever, and you can monitor water pH, wash cycle status, as well as storing "Wash Cycle Tracking Stats" for further scrutiny or dissemination across social media, should you feel the need to wash your dirty laundry in public.
Which is exactly what we did, because we know that you'd never forgive us if we didn't take a closer look at the bioceramic basis for this audacious advance in washday comms.
Obviously, the Crystal Wash 2.0 isn't yet available, but the team did kindly send us a pair of analogue 1.0 versions. Here's my nephew Matthew Haines in full winter plumage and adopting the obligatory pose in the circumstances:
Co-incidentally, this grubby Herbert happened to be wearing a suitably soiled hoodie/shirt combo thingy, which, as those of you who are down with the yoof will be aware, is quite the fashion rage.
Posthaste to the washing machine, then, and the deployment of two Crystal Wash spheres instead of the usual powder.
Apparently, the bioceramic globules inside the plastic case work by raising the pH level of the wash water "to 8.5 or greater". The Kickstarter blurb elaborates: "This process shrinks the water molecule clusters to a size that allows dirts or soils to be soaked free naturally."
What's more, they also create "Hydrogen Peroxide which disinfects the clothes and kills bacteria and oder [sic]".
To revitalise the bioceramics, every 30 washes or so, you have to leave your balls in full sun for an afternoon, after which they're fully fit for further frottage.
While the Crystal Wash product appears to be this, a team spokesman told us it's sourcing an alternative "certified, patented bioceramic" ball, albeit also manufactured in Korea.
But do they work? Sort of. Here's a detail of Matthew's hoodie after a cold wash:
Evidently, extra treatment is required for those "really tough stains" which are the yardstick of washing powder manufacturers' ability to deliver "atomically clean" results.
Further testing is clearly in order, and we may have a been a bit hard on the orbs since when we say "cold wash", we mean really cold (<10°C).
Back at Crystal Wash 2.0, meanwhile, the most challenging technical aspect will doubtless be how to power the device. The spokesman told us: "The ultimate goal is to not require charging and provide an optimized power system, utilizing idle state power off features, etc, with the hopes to provide approx 700 hours of power which is approx 1000 washes. So, minimal hassle."
In response to Kickstarter comments raising doubts that this is achievable, the team notes: "Our ultimate goal is to not require recharging. If we are unable to reach that goal we have a few back up plans. One of which is a wireless charging solution and the other is an innovative kinetic charging system that will use the motion of the device itself to recharge the batteries. Again these are back up plans and our goal now is to make charging not required."
Well, we'll see how it pans out, assuming the Crystal Wash 2.0 hits its Kickstarter target of $100,000. The fundraising pot currently stands at a tad over $50k with plenty of time left to run, so it's evident plenty of people really do want a magic link to their laundry.
Now, if you excuse us, Matthew has just brought in an SPB labcoat soaked in oil, blood, dissolved mud, coffee, red wine, ink and ketchup... ®