U.S. smart vacuum manufacturer iRobot has announced an upcoming Beta feature designed to give the Roomba 900 Series of vacuums the ability to detect and map the strength of Wi-Fi signals in their area of operation. The Wi-Fi Coverage Map feature will initially be rolled out in mid-January on the iRobot Beta program and at first, it will be available only in the U.S. to a limited number of customers.
Mesh Wi-Fi networking is becoming increasingly popular with products like Google's Wi-Fi routers promoting this type of technology. With mesh networking, users can set up multiple Wi-Fi routers in their homes and this allows connected devices to switch dynamically between routers in order to take advantage of the best possible coverage at any given time. Having said that, the ability to visualize the Wi-Fi signal strength in one's entire home is quite convenient, and the Wi-Fi Coverage Map feature developed by iRobot seems to be a natural fit for a smart robot vacuum designed to roam around a user's home from one corner to another on a regular basis. Users can simply prompt a Roomba vacuum to perform its regular cleaning job and the robot will collect information about their Wi-Fi signal strength as it performs its usual chores. No additional steps are required on the user's part. Once the task is completed, the Roomba will send a notification let its owner know that the Wi-Fi Coverage Map has been generated along with the usual Clean Map report.
The Wi-Fi Coverage Map Beta program can be accessed only in the U.S. beginning in mid-January via the iRobot HOME app for Android devices available on the Google Play Store. The feature will only be compatible with the Roomba 900 series of vacuums including the Roomba 960 and 980, and reportedly won't be released for the 600 and 800 series as these products lack the necessary mapping capabilities. iRobot still doesn't seem to have a solid release date for the Wi-Fi Coverage Map function and it remains to be seen how long the beta testing period will last. iRobot hopes to add more functionalities to its base products going forward in order to incentivize consumers to buy them for more than just vacuuming tasks.