In a match made in tech heaven, Google and iRobot have teamed up in a bid to better map and improve the usability of the smart home.
The venture sees iRobot’s latest Roomba i7 robotic vacuum cleaner gather spatial information as it goes about cleaning the home. Ultimately Google and iRobot hope gathering the data will help simplify smart home setup and enable powerful new automations.
The vacuum cleaner will also be able to remember room names and plans so it can customise its housekeeping. The integration with Google means users can tell the robot where to clean using a command that’s as simple as “Hey Google, clean the kitchen”.
At great pains to reassure the public that Google would not receive layout or specific room location information, Google said the data would be opt-in only and would purely be used to improve the smart home experience.
“This data doesn’t help current Google products. This data is not getting fed into some larger morass of Google information,” Google told The Verge.
Instead, the maps could be used to locate products like Wi-Fi-connected lighting, automatically assigning names and locations to lights in a customer’s bedroom, kitchen and so on.
“Much like assigning smart lights or other smart devices to rooms in the home, the Assistant only learns what names people have given to areas of their homes, so that it can then deploy the iRobot i7+ to that area,” Google stated. “We do not receive any information on the layout of the home or where the areas are, respectively.”
iRobot CEO Colin Angle told The Verge the collaboration lays the foundations for future smart homes.
“This idea is that when you say, ‘OK Google, turn the lights on in the kitchen,’ you need to know what lights are in the kitchen. And if I say, ‘OK, future iRobot robot with an arm, go get me a beer,’ it needs to know where the kitchen and the refrigerator are.”
Meanwhile, he explained that working together would allow iRobot and Google to be on the lookout for additional ways to integrate their platforms, providing customers with the choice to opt into new innovative smart home experiences that leverage a broader understanding of the home’s space.
“iRobot is delivering products that help people keep a cleaner and smarter home,” Mr Angle said.
“Robots with mapping and spatial awareness capabilities will play an important role in allowing other smart devices in the home to more seamlessly work together. We’re looking forward to working with Google to explore new ways to enable a more thoughtful home.”