iRobot's new update makes cleaning even smarter—here's how
Cleaning that's really genius
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Imagine a world where every time your kids come home, your robot mop gives your mudroom a once over. Or one where you could tell your robot vacuum to clean just in front of your couch after movie night.
On Aug. 25, iRobot launched a new smart platform called iRobot Genius Home Intelligence that does just that. It can schedule and set routines for their WiFi-connected, iRobot branded devices. This includes the Roomba i7+ and S9 models and the Braava Jet M6.
Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, went so far to say, “Robotic intelligence must break free from the limits of autonomy and become true cleaning partners. Our robot intelligence is personalized and responsive to the user’s habits and preferences, giving them greater control over when, where and how their robots clean.”
If this sounds to you like something out of Hollywood or, maybe even MIT, you’re right. Countless films have centered on robots and automation, and in reality, they are the future, no doubt about it. But what does this future look like? Will it be "The Terminator" or "Ex Machina"? What about "Wall-E"? When it comes to automation in the home, iRobot is setting the bar.
To get a feel for home automation in the present, we tested out the iRobot Genius Home Intelligence release. Here’s some insight into this current state of smart home technology.
What is iRobot Genius Home Intelligence?
Simply put, the iRobot Genius Home Intelligence is an update to the existing iRobot Home app, which gives you more control over where and when your robot vacuum cleans.
The “where” is denoted by rooms on your smart map, which the Roomba i7+ and S9 models can detect automatically. Special areas called Clean Zones, like the couch or under the kitchen table, can also be labeled on the smart map. You can also designate areas where you don’t want your Roomba to roam.
The update also gives you more control over the “when,” i.e. exactly when your Roomba cleans. It does this through a series of event-based automation. For example, you can integrate your home's smart locks into your robot vacuum’s programming so that when you walk through your front door, the Roomba will return to its charging base. This works because iRobot Genius Home Intelligence is on the IFTTT platform, so it “speaks” a very common language that hundreds of smart home brands know.
If you don’t want all your smart devices talking to each other, you can use a scheduling feature from your phone. We found that you can schedule a time to clean and specify where to clean. For example, at 8 pm, after your dinner, you can schedule the Roomba to vacuum under the table and the Braava jet to mop the whole kitchen floor.
How does it work?
To get the full usage out of the update, you need to have your robot vacuum map the area you want to be cleaned. During our test, this took longer than we would have liked. Our first floor labs are about 2,700 sq. ft.; it took the Roomba i7+ about six hours worth of runs to create a usable smart map—about three runs total.
The software does try to guess where individual rooms begin and end, but you’re also able to manually go in and label boundaries. This is important because robot vacuums and mops are best utilized every day and in a targeted manner. By creating rooms and zones that you know attract messes, you can focus your robot vacuums on where it matters.
iRobot Genius Home Intelligence really starts to tear up the dance floor, figuratively speaking, once labeling is complete. Features like the smart map, event-based automation, and scheduling each have a section within the app.
Scheduling is our favorite feature, and it is very straightforward: What time you want to start, on what days, and where. Also, if you own a Braava jet you can schedule it to mop your floor after your Roomba finishes vacuuming. We scheduled the Roomba i7+ to vacuum every day at 3 pm in the area where I enjoy my secret stash of pizza rolls, and it kept my spot nice and clean.
We also synced the iRobot Home app with an Amazon Echo. This integration is a little more cumbersome, especially if you don’t normally interact with Amazon Alexa, as it requires a series of voice commands to get the Roomba i7+ started. It took way longer than just using the iRobot Home app on a phone.
It is also pretty easy to activate the default clean-when-I’m-not-at-home setting. As long as you have the credentials, it should be an easy lift to get your robot vacuum and smart locks to communicate.
How to get the update
iRobot Genius Home Intelligence is a software update for any smart Roomba and Braava jet models. If you’re already an iRobot user, you may have noticed a change to the main screen on your iRobot Home app, as this update should have happened automatically to both your robot’s software and the app. If this update hasn’t automatically been installed, just download the app again.
Is iRobot Genius Home Intelligence good enough to warrant the purchase of a smart robot vacuum?
A solid yes for anyone looking to create a smart home environment. In the world of smart robot vacuum cleaners, iRobot Genius Home Intelligence is the best bundle of cleaning options we’ve seen so far. Companies like Neato and Ecovacs offer very similar apps, but iRobot Genius Home Intelligence is much sleeker and easier to use.
Not to mention this smart software is useful in keeping a clean house, and this app makes it easy to do that. There are updates for iRobot Genius Home Intelligence coming in the next six months. We will update this article when these are released.
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