Your robot vacuum is getting a big upgrade. Roomba’s parent company iRobot announced Tuesday it’s giving its robots a “genius” software update.
You can now set areas in your home where Roomba should not go, areas that are particularly messy that need more frequent cleaning and even time house cleanings for when you’re not home.
Roomba is touting the upgrade as a major innovation that makes its devices smarter and more customizable. It’s also a way for the company to distinguish itself against a growing number of competitors offering cheaper alternatives.
Unlike other smart home devices, such as Nest thermostats or Philips Hue light bulbs, Roomba cleaners previously lacked automated routines and scheduling until this update. So the upgrade brings some much-needed features to get Roomba up to speed with the rest of the connected device world.
Existing Roomba customers will get the new features in a free software update Tuesday. The iRobot Home app has been redesigned with more features for customizing a robot’s cleaning routines and it works with all Wi-Fi connected iRobot products.
“iRobot (IRBT) Genius unlocks the full potential of our connected products, giving them the ability to do more now and get even smarter over time through over-the-air updates,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot (IRBT), in a press release.
The coronavirus outbreak has led many people to stay home, where they have ample time to stare at dust bunnies, dirt and other detritus stuck on their floors and carpets. That’s great news for iRobot.
The company reported in late July that it earned nearly $280 million in revenue for the quarter ending in June, up 8% from the same period last year and exceeding previous guidance.
“Maintaining a clean home has taken on greater prominence during this pandemic,” Angle said in a July earnings release. He added that the company is continuing to focus more on its premium products.
Tuesday’s update lets users set areas in their homes as clean zones for robot vacuums to target. For instance, you could set the couch as a clean zone and ask Roomba to clean around the couch.
You can also designate areas in your home as “keep out” zones that Roomba should stay away from.
With the update, you can ask Roomba to start cleaning when you’re heading outside for a hike or going to work and to stop when you return. The app will use location-based services to track when you’ve left home and command Roomba to start cleaning. If you have other smart home devices, they can also be added to the routine.
Higher-end products such as the Roomba i7 and s9 models and Braava jet mops can even vacuum specific areas at specific times of day, like the dining room on a Friday evening.
And during allergy or pet shedding season, the app will suggest more frequent cleaning.