iRobot latest cleaners, announced earlier this year, were a bit different from previous products in one key area. They could talk to each other.
Previously, Braava robotic mops and Roomba robotic vacuums were completely different products, operating independently using different software.
The release of the Braava M6, the Roomba I series and the Roomba S series changed that. Now, after finishing vacuuming, the Roomba i7 or s9 can signal the Braava M6 to start mopping.
This ability for different internet-connected products to work in tandem is just the beginning of what the future holds, not only for iRobot products but all smart home products in general.
To understand how the future smart home will look like, firstly, it’s vital to know how the development of iRobot latest cleaners was made.
Here’s a quick non-technical rundown.
You’ve probably already heard of this one. Heck, you likely already have stuff stored in the cloud; perhaps your family photos or some of your work documents.
Starting in 2013, iRobot began transferring their operations to the cloud from clunky physical servers. Specifically, they used Amazon AWS services, the leading cloud services provider.
Today, most of their operations, software, and architecture are cloud-based.
This has allowed iRobot to scale rapidly without suffering any slowdown in communication between their virtual servers and the millions or Roombas being used in homes.
For an idea of how fast iRobot is growing, they made sales of about $660 million in 2016, $883 million in 2017 and broke the $1 billion mark in 2018.
That doesn’t just mean more money in their bank; there are also thousands of more iRobot cleaners they have to support.
That kind of growth wouldn’t be possible without cloud computing.
With the launch of the latest products, iRobot has gone deeply into cloud computing to roll out product updates more efficiently and ensure their robots are working smoothly.
Roombas are some of the smartest robot vacuums around. The I and S series bots are extraordinarily intelligent.
They navigate around the home effortlessly, moving between rooms and vacuuming around obstacles without getting stuck.
If you have some idea of robots, then you know how incredibly difficult it can be for a robot to navigate an unstructured environment that’s constantly changing.
iRobot has incorporated a lot of AI into their robots with the main goal of making them vacuum more as a human would.
Roombas adapt easily to new environments and can change their cleaning pattern to accommodate an area with more dirt.
The new robots are even smarter. Just say the words ‘Alexa, tell Roomba to clean the kitchen’ and the robot knows exactly what you want.
If you say ‘Alexa, tell Roomba to clean the kitchen and Braava to mop the bedroom,’ both robots will respond accordingly.
A lot of behind-the-scenes work in AI has gone into making it look so easy.
Expect iRobot to make even smarter products in the future.
The CEO, Colin Angle, has hinted that they want to make a wider range of home robots that work together.
They’ve already started that journey with the upcoming launch of iRobot’s first robotic lawnmower, the Terra t7.
Colin Angle has acknowledged that, for iRobot, data is more important than anything else, including AI.
It’s the data they collect from millions of robots that powers the AI and smarts of Roombas and Braava mops.
With the data they collected from Roomba i7 and previous models, engineers knew what limitations to improve on when designing the s9 and s9+.
By studying how people use their Roombas and how the robots interact with the home environment, iRobot can design future products that work better and more efficiently.
One other pillar that underpins iRobot’s vision for the robot future is DevOps. You probably haven’t heard of this one since it’s mostly used in business and startup environments.
All you need to know is that it’s a way for development and operations teams to work together to speed up product development and improve product support.
By using DevOps, iRobot was able to develop their new products in record time without sacrificing quality. It also allows different teams to work together to roll out new features and updates quickly and efficiently.
The advantage to us, as customers are that we get high-quality products that keep getting better.
Of course, iRobot is now launching new shiny gizmos in a vacuum. It’s up against the tough competition, especially from brands that offer cheaper robot cleaners such as the sub $300 iLife V8s robotic mop and vacuum.
But iRobot wants to distinguish itself with better technology, better smarts and ultimately, more convenience for their customers.
You can learn more about the fascinating behind-the-scenes of how iRobot developed their new products in this in-depth article.