iRobot is pushing out a new software upgrade to most of its robot vacuums, and it's going to bring in the company's new AI-powered platform called iRobot Genius Home Intelligence.
This is said to be the biggest software upgrade ever, for iRobot's robot vacuums.
This is part of a new shift in how iRobot develops its products. iRobot is looking to move up the value chain, and trying to differentiate itself from the other rivals out there, that are selling robot vacuums for under $200. And according to iRobot's CEO, Colin Angle, that means a robot you can really control.
Angle said, "imagine you had a cleaning person come to your home and you couldn't talk to them. You couldn't tell them when to show up and where to clean. You'd get really frustrated! And it's the same thing going on with the robots."
iRobot is adding machine vision the mix
iRobot isn't just adding some AI to its robot vacuums, but also some machine vision. It'll use the built-in camera to identify specific pieces of furniture in your home. This includes things like couches, tables and kitchen counters.
The robot will log these objects and make suggestions to you, to add them to its internal map as "clean zones". What that means is specific areas of your home you can direct your Roomba to clean either via the app or a virtual assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
As iRobot's chief product officer, Keith Harsfield stated, "right after the kids eat is the perfect time to say 'clean under the dining room table,' because there's shrapnel everywhere under there, but you don't need to clean the whole kitchen."
Some of these are features that other robot vacuums like the ECOVACS DEEBOT T8 AIVI sported earlier this year. But iRobot is taking things a bit further with the precision cleaning zones. So not only can you tell it to clean a specific room, but a specific area in that room. Now that, is game-changing.
iRobot employees were the guinea pigs
For iRobot to be able to create these machine vision algorithms, it collected tens of thousands of images from inside employees' homes. This helped the engine learn what furniture looks like when you're scooting across the the floor.
Angle also noted that, "if your robot is collecting this data it has a bright green sticker on, so you don't forget and start wandering around with no pants on." He also says that the company's fleet of data collecting vehicles is "probably second only to Tesla's". Which is rather impressive, to say the least.