Ironing robot

A firm has developed a household appliance they are calling an "ironing robot." It follows on the heels of the wildly successful Roomba vacuum cleaner, which uses software that enables the "robot" to learn where things are in rooms and to successfully clean floors and carpets independently.

The device is pricey, as all new gadgets are, but sounds like it does a superior job of getting the wrinkles out of shirts. Apparently the device does not damage the fabric the way conventional irons do.

What's important about this? Like the Roomba vacuum, no one predicted this. It may or may not catch on--no one thought the Roomba would, but it did.

As communities seek guarantees that infrastructure investments pay off, we have to remember that the future cannot always be quantified by what worked in the past. New technologies like the Internet become engines of innovation, spawning new companies (the Roomba has created jobs manufacturing and selling robot vacuums) and spurring economic development in ways no one predicted. Flexibility in planning and execution gives communities the opportunity to capitalize on those new technologies and companies as they emerge.

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