As a huge supporter of iRobot and their super awesome automated cleaning devices, I was pretty taken aback by the recent onslaught of negative press the company has been getting online.
Following an interview with iRobot’s CEO Colin Angle and a Reuters reporter, an article was posted that claimed that the company had plans to sell virtual maps of our homes to the highest bidder. News outlets everywhere started sharing the story and it seemed everyone was donning tin foil hats and crying about invasion of privacy.
My first thought was, “no one at Reuters must own a Roomba”. If they did have one, they would have immediately understand Mr. Angle’s meaning when he talked about sharing mapping data with other smart home devices and the companies that create them.
Reuters has since published a retraction to the original article, but I fear the damage has already been done. Frankly, I am pretty freaking peeved about it. Why do I even care? This may set back my dream of having the completely automated “George Jetson” style home that I have been patiently waiting for.
I’m not some techy-nerd-burger type of person. I can hardly work my laptop for pete’s sake, so I’m going to break this down for you in terms that even I can understand.
My home is getting smarter everyday. I started out with my first iRobot Roomba 6 years ago, and I have never looked back. A robot that vacuums the house for me? Yes please! I now own four of them and between my roombas and my mopping robot, Braava, my floors are sparkling clean without me having to do a thing.
A few years ago we added a Nest thermostat and last year we added iDevices to all of our lights. Our Echo Dot now controls the lights, temperature and starts or stops my robot vacuums with a simple voice command.
This is exactly what Colin Angle was talking about. I allowed my Roombas to “talk” to my Alexa (Echo Dot) by enabling the “skill”, and it has given me the ability to have both devices communicate with each other, which in turn makes my life easier.
In the not-so-distant future, I can see the integration between my Echo Dot and my iRobot devices allowing me to say things like “Alexa, have the Braava clean the mud at the front door”. With a simple command, my mopping robot will start and know exactly where the front door is and be able to clean the mud without me having to lift a finger. Perhaps the virtual mapping system will allow me to say “Alexa, turn on the lamp beside me” and the iDevices will know exactly where that is and turn on the light.
Finding ways to make my home “smarter” isn’t about laziness (ok, well it kind of is), it’s about giving me more time in my day for the things I love. Right now, I can now relax on the sofa with my husband and with a simple voice command I can dim the lights, start the music, turn on the fireplace and mop the floors, without having to move a muscle. Now, if only I had a robot who could make dinner and bring me a glass of wine! I’m patiently waiting.