Creating a Smart Iron

May 1, 2005 By: Melanie Martella, Sensors Sensors

Did you know that there are entire realms of high-tech ironing equipment out there? There are, and the Swiss company LauraStar manufactures them. Recently, the company teamed up with Cambridge Consultants, a Boston, MA–based design and technology consulting firm to create a new "smart" ironing system, one that incorporates intelligent sensing and electronics.

The trick with irons, you see, is steam delivery. Steam is used to remove creases in fabric, but since damp fabrics are just as likely to crease again, you need to apply a dose of dry heat to "set" the fabric in a lovely, uncreased state.

For LauraStar's automatic steam function, Cambridge Consultants used two half-bridge strain gauges built into the iron's handle and a purpose-designed control system to allow the iron to detect movement. If the iron senses forward motion, it signals the steam production system to deliver steam; as soon as the iron stops moving or moves backward, the steam shuts off, all within a millisecond. Adding a ventilation system to the ironing board lets the iron glide on a wave of air, preventing creasing and eliminating steam marks.

I know I'll never look at my iron in quite the same way again.

Contact Andrew Diston, Cambridge Consultants, Boston, MA; 978-685-3136,, Or contact Groupe LauraStar S.A., Châtel St Denis, Switzerland; 41-(0)21-948-21-00,

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