A washing machine that fits in your pocket?
As the great American tennis player once said: "You cannot be serious!"
Strangely enough though, when it comes to a washing machine that fits in your pocket you actually can. Although this tiny gadget is yet to hit the market, it's been invented and it works.
You are more than likely to be familiar with the standard rectangular washing machines, sometimes incorporating dryers that stare at you from their pride of place in the kitchen or utility room. Using gallons of water, considerable electricity and making a noise like a helicopter taking off when on the spin cycle they are an essential part of a household.
The new kid on the block is called Dolfi and it's a hi-tech device for washing clothes that makes use of ultrasonic sound waves to clean fabrics. It's the brainchild of Lena Solis, who founded the Dolfi company from which the device takes its name, and who came up with the idea after many laundry mishaps on her travels.
"The idea of Dolfi came after a few terrible experiences with laundry during my extensive travel," she explained. As a result, she commissioned Portuguese product designer Andre Fangueiro, who is based in the Netherlands, to create a portable machine that uses ultrasound to wash textiles.
As well as offering a portable cleaning option for travellers, the Dolfi is also aimed at taking away the necessity for hand-washing clothes that are made from fabrics that are easily damaged, such as cashmere, silk and lace.
The designers say that once you put the Dolfi into a container or a sink filled with water and switch it on, a transducer inside it will convert electrical power into a variety of high-frequency sound waves. These create millions of tiny bubbles in the water in an action called cavitation.
As the bubbles implode they generate jets to drive water and detergent through a piece of clothing's fibres, removing the need for any extra movement.
Fangueiro has created a smooth plastic pebble, white in colour, in which the transducer is housed. To make it waterproof the pebble is sealed, and it has a flexible cable to connect it to a power source. It will fit into the hand and is light and easy to carry around.
As Fangueiro explains, "Its smooth form provides the end user with the sense of friendliness and security that this object would help wash their most precious textiles."
Another major advantage of this hi-tech gizmo is that though it's compact it's very powerful, but compared to a conventional washing machine it will use around 80 times less energy. When you consider the cost of electricity that will make a saving in your annual utility bills.
Ultrasonic processes have been around for some time now, especially for cleaning things made of more solid materials such as dental equipment and jewellery, so the advent of the Dolfi could make a major change in how fabrics are cleaned in the future.