iRobot CEO Colin Angle has been repeating for some time now that the next step in the evolution of the company’s hit Roomba vacuum is becoming a connective tissue for the smart home. This morning’s announcement from the company takes it a couple of steps closer to that dream, introducing Alexa voice integration and advances to robotic vacuum’s mapping system that lay the groundwork for future smart home upgrades.
“Roombas are already becoming one of the commonly found connected devices in the home,” Angle tells TechCrunch. “The popularity of the Roomba has made it a very powerful ambassador for connected devices, but its ability to organize physical information in the home is making it a central player in allowing homes to be more intelligent. You need to be aware of where things are in order to have a home do the right thing without programming it.”
The company isn’t leaning too heavily on the Alexa integration at this stage, since it’s still a bit of a ways off, arriving at some point in Q2. But it will certainly be a handy feature for those with both an Echo and 900 connected series Roomba already in their home. We caught a demo of the functionality on a recent trip to the company’s Bedford, Massachusetts headquarters, and the whole setup was as user-friendly as one would hope, asking Alexa to tell Roomba to start cleaning and return to the docking station.
The more immediately available Clean Map function, on the other hands, leverages the 900’s navigational functionality to essentially make dirt map of a user’s home. The information takes a bit of the guesswork out of using a Roomba, showing the owner where the vacuum has cleaned and where it spent most of its time – a sort of heat map of a home’s dirtiest spots.
What’s perhaps most compelling here, however, is the groundwork that the company is laying out with these upgrades. iRobot’s push into strictly consumer devices has dovetailed nicely into the rise of the smart home, and the company is hoping that its widely deployed robot can serve as sort of a connected tissue, levering its WiFi connectivity and advanced computer mapping capabilities to make device a better way to lay out the home.
Read the source article at TechCrunch.