Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Google wants to improve your smart home with iRobot’s room maps

Google and iRobot have announced they’re working together to improve smart home technology using mapping data collected by iRobot’s robot vacuums. The two companies say the aim is to make smart homes “more thoughtful” by leveraging the unique dataset collected by iRobot: maps of customers’ homes.
iRobot’s latest Roomba, the i7+, creates maps using a combination of odometry data (measuring how far the robovac’s wheels move) and low-res camera imagery. The resulting maps can be used to create custom cleaning schedules or to let users ask their Roomba to vacuum specific rooms. An integration with Google Assistant lets customers give verbal commands like, “OK Google, tell Roomba to clean the kitchen.”
Google and iRobot say this data will be useful for other smart home devices. The maps could be used to locate products like Wi-Fi-connected lighting, for example, automatically assigning names and locations to lights in customers’ bedroom, kitchen, and so on.
iRobot CEO Colin Angle told The Verge that 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.”
Google’s Michelle Turner, director of the company’s smart home ecosystem, says the dream is not just to create a smart home, but a “thoughtful home” that requires less input from users and adapts to their wants and needs. “We think a thoughtful home has context,” says Turner, “and that is something that iRobot has done an exceptional job on.”

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