'Alexa, vacuum my home': iRobot's Roomba hoovers up Amazon Echo skill

Oliver Cragg
iRobot Roomba 980

Slovenly tech fans will no doubt be delighted to hear that iRobot's elite Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners will soon be compatible with Amazon's artificially intelligent personal assistant, Alexa. The US-only Alexa "skill" will be added to Amazon Echo smart devices in Q2 2017, allowing connected Roomba vacuum owners to activate their dirt-demolishing discs with simple voice commands.

Alexa's repertoire has continued to expand since its launch embedded within the Amazon Echo smart speaker (and its smaller Echo Dot), with various smart home gadgets and Internet of Things (IoT) oddities now controllable by voice. The addition of a Roomba command – which iRobot noted would be as basic as "Alexa, ask Roomba to begin cleaning" – now adds house cleaning to the AI-assisted mix.

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Echo support is not the only new feature for Roomba owners to dabble with, however, as iRobot is also adding new features to its iOS and Android app that brings "enhanced mapping features and useful post-cleaning reports" to certain models of the US company's circular cleaning robots.

"Combining adaptive navigation with visual localisation, iRobot Roomba 900 Series vacuuming robots build a map of a home as they clean," read a press release. "Clean Map reports make these maps visible to customers in the iRobot Home App after a cleaning job is complete."

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According to iRobot, these Clean Maps will show off the dirtiest regions of your house and will order the Roomba to provide "a more focused cleaning in those areas." Think Google Maps for filthy floors. The upcoming app update will also add push notifications that "alert users on job status, including when the robot is finished cleaning."

"iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers' experience with our cleaning robots," said Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot. "These are exciting next steps towards our vision of an ecosystem of home robots that work collaboratively and further enable the smart home."

It is unclear as yet if the update will ever reach Roomba owners who also happen to own an Amazon Echo device in the UK. As for the Roomba itself, if you are unsure on whether a sci-fi vacuum cleaner can really help with household chores, be sure to check out IBTimes UK's review of iRobot's flagship, the Roomba 980.

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