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Foot-powered washing machine puts a spin on manual clothes washing

When two design students from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California visited a village outside of Lima, Peru, they realized they would put their skills to use on improving the lives of the impoverished. Based on the visit, they decided to develop a commercial product that would increase efficiency in laundry by eliminating the physical stress of hand washing clothes and saving the amount of water wasted. Thus, the GiraDora, a foot-powered washing machine was born.

Targeting consumers who were earning between $4 to $10 USD a day, the GiraDora is a large bucket that contains a spinning mechanism similar to ones found in electronic washing machines. The user puts his or her laundry inside the portable barrel, fills it up with water, pours in soap, and closes the lid. He or she can then sit on top and step on the pedal to spin the laundry inside, effectively cleaning the clothes before pouring the water out. The spinning process is repeated to start the drying process of the clothes before the user takes them out to hang.

GiraDora designers Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You explained that this design is not only energy efficient, it is also better for your posture. Instead of hunching over to wash clothes in a bucket, sitting alleviates lower back stress and allows the user to multi-task or keep watch of his or her surroundings. Those sensitive to laundry detergent and soap can also avoid using their hands to manually clean clothes, reducing the risk of skin irritation and mold inhalation.

Since introducing the design, the GiraDora has received numerous awards from Core77Dell Social Innovation Challenge, and the International Design Excellence Awards. As of January 2012, the design is also patent pending. Cabunoc and You recently received a $19,500 grant to commercialize the product, hoping to offer the device to impoverished families at under $40 per machine. According to Fast Company Design, the two aims to return to Peru as well as Chile to test new prototypes for durability before expanding eastward to India. The duo’s goal? To reach one million users by the time the product becomes officially mass produced. With an estimated market of 2 billion people and low competition in devices of this caliber and price range, the GiraDora might be an equipment to look out for in the near future.

Watch the video below to see the GiraDora in action.

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