March 16, 2017      

Neato Robotics will not be outdone by yesterday’s announcement from iRobot about voice control integration with Amazon Alexa. Neato just added voice control support for Google Home to its Botvac Connected Series robot vacuums, including the Botvac D3 Connected, Botvac D5 Connected and Botvac Connected.

With the Google Home support, users will be able to start, stop, and pause their Neato Botvac Connected robot vacuum. For example, saying “OK Google, tell Neato robot to start cleaning” will allow Google’s virtual assistant to fire up the robot vacuum.

But Neato’s Google Home support goes far beyond basic functionality – something Alexa hasn’t been able to do yet – and allows you to use your voice to check the robot vacuum’s battery level, locate the robot vacuum with the FindMe function, and schedule a cleaning cycle. To schedule a weekly cleaning on Tuesdays at 10 am, for example, all you have to say is “OK Google, tell Neato Robot to clean on Tuesdays at 10 am.”

Neato says it’s rolling out Google Home support today in the United States; availability in the UK and Germany “will be available soon” for the same robot vacuum models.

“The explosion of artificial intelligence has enabled more sophisticated voice control and we are happy to bring this revolutionary technology to customers,” says Giacomo Marini, Chairman and CEO of Neato Robotics. “At the heart of Neato’s brand is – and always has been – technology leadership through innovation – the Google Assistant integration further cements our commitment to innovation in the smart home.”

Neato has supported Amazon Alexa voice control since November 2016, so integration with Google Home was a logical next step. Samsung’s WiFi-connected POWERbot robot vacuums also support Alexa voice control.

Voice-controlled robot vacuums are still quite new, so the interface still needs some work. Ideally, the voice control will be built directly into the robot vacuums to allow users to talk to the robot vacuum and won’t require a virtual assistant in the home. We talked about this with Neato’s VP of marketing Nancy Nunziati when the company announced the Alexa support, but she said building the voice control into the vacuum is tricky. One of the issues is that most powerful robot vacuums are loud, which could potentially cause problems when someone talks directly to the robot vacuum. “Having an intermediary [device] like Amazon Echo is more practical at this point,” she said.

Is voice control a must-have feature now when it comes to robot vacuums? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Certainly these crafty DIYers think so.