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Laundromat with smartphone-operated machines to open in Chiba

Wash-plus President Kentaro Takanashi gives a demonstration of a smartphone-operated washing machine in Chiba's Inage Ward, on Nov. 21, 2017. (Mainichi)

CHIBA -- Commercial washing machines that can be controlled with just a smartphone will be made available for public use at a laundromat here on Nov. 25, it has been learned.

    The machines, which have been jointly developed by cleaning device maker Yamamoto Manufacturing Co. and laundromat business operator Wash-plus, will enable customers to check the availability of empty machines and also make credit card payments using just their smartphones.

    The two firms announced the launch of their "Smart Laundry" machines on Nov. 21. This is apparently the first time for such technology to be introduced in Japan.

    According to Wash-plus President Kentaro Takanashi, the smartphone-operated features also include the locking and unlocking of machines, issuing of receipts, and a messaging system that notifies users when the laundry is ready for collection -- thereby cutting out the need to wait in the laundromat. There are some added benefits as well, depending on the number of times the "Smart Laundry" system is used.

    The first set of machines will be introduced at a new Inage-Kaigan branch laundromat in Chiba's Inage Ward that will open on Nov. 25. The new technology is planned to be sold to laundromat operators across the nation from as early as mid-December onward.

    "Our immediate aim is introduce this new technology in 100 laundromats across Japan," Takanashi says, referring to the increasing diversification of laundromats in recent years.

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