Starting in Q2 2017, customers in the United States will be able to control any of iRobot’s WiFi-enabled robot vacuums using Amazon Alexa voice control. To date, iRobot’s connected robot vacuums include the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980, but surely all future models will be WiFi-enabled.
Alexa voice control will allow users to start, stop and pause their Roomba 960 or Roomba 980 by simply speaking to an Alexa-enabled device, such as the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. For example, saying “Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning” will fire up the robot vacuum. iRobot didn’t specify when, or if, Alexa support will be rolled out globally.
We asked iRobot about the prospects of building voice control directly into the Roomba and bypassing Alexa-enabled devices, but the company doesn’t “speculate on future product features.” Integrating voice control into the vacuums is certainly the end goal, but getting that done isn’t cheap or easy as most robot vacuums are quite loud, making it tricky to filter out a human’s voice commands.
iRobot hasn’t commented on other virtual assistants, but expect the Roomba to integrate with Google Home in the not-to-distant future, too.
Must-Read: iRobot Roomba 960 vs. Roomba 980 Comparison
iRobot is the clear front-runner in the robot vacuum space, but the Roomba isn’t the first to offer voice control. Neato Robotics added Alexa voice control to its Botvac Connected Robot Vacuum in November 2016, while all of Samsung’s WiFi-connected POWERbot robot vacuums feature Alexa voice control. And DIYers were doing it well before that.
iRobot’s Clean Map Reports
And if you’ve been looking for a little more intel about the cleaning performance of your Roomba 900 Series robot vacuum, help is also on the way on that front. Starting today thanks to a global update, the iRobot HOME App (Android and iOS) will include Clean Map reports (screenshots below) that tell you about the robot’s cleaning performance, including total area and duration of the cleaning cycle, and what areas of your floor were dirtiest.
“iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers’ experience with our cleaning robots,” says Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot. “The latest updates for the iRobot HOME App make cleaning with an iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot even more user friendly, with voice-activated commands, enhanced mapping features and useful post-cleaning reports. These are exciting next steps towards our vision of an ecosystem of home robots that work collaboratively and further enable the smart home.”
Roombas generate maps of your home as they clean. The Clean Map reports are adding more information to these maps and making them available to you for up to 30 cleaning jobs. Clean Map reports can be viewed in the History tab of the iRobot HOME App. Once the map is opened, users can manipulate the map on the screen with their fingers, zooming and panning from room-to-room.
This update to iRobot’s HOME App also includes push notifications that will alert users on job status.