Google and iRobot want to map users homes with robot vacuum cleaners for the future of smart homes.
iRobot’s latest vacuum, the Roomba i7+, already creates indoor maps by using both a low-resolution camera and the robots odometry data, which is how far the wheels move. Having a home map allows the user to ask their Roomba to clean specific rooms with voice commands.
The two companies are partnering for more than just voice commands. Instead, they want to figure out solutions for setting up and managing a smart home both now, and in the future.
“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,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, in the company’s October 31st press release.
One potential application would be teaching the user’s devices where they are in a home. For example, the Roomba could identify the kitchen and the smart devices within it. It could then let the smart fridge, smart lights and other devices know that they’re in the kitchen.
So you could request things like “Okay Google, start making coffee in the kitchen.” Alternatively, if you had another robot that needed to get around your house, it would be able to much easier with a map. If the other smart devices were also on the map, it opens up the possibility for the robot and those devices to interact.
This is all speculation for what the technology can do, but it paints an interesting picture for what smart homes may become.
Michelle Turner, Google’s director of smart home ecosystems, said that the idea is to create a “thoughtful home” that is able to react to things and can function with much less input from the user, in an interview with The Verge.
Turner mentioned that there are no plans to take users home layout data and use it for ad-targeting.