Robot vacuums might have been punchlines back when the sitcom Parks & Rec placed a Bluetooth speaker on one and named it DJ Roomba, but my how times have changed.
Image: Microstock-Thailand / Shutterstock
Society is so ready for a future with home-cleaning robots that they now represent 20 percent of the worldwide vacuum market, according to iRobot CEO and co-founder Colin Angle.
The CEO made this announcement in an interview today at TechCrunch Beijing, where he noted more than 14 million Roombas have been sold. The company owns a dominant portion of the market, too, with 70 percent of those vacuums sold bearing the Roomba brand.
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Angle told the audience that iRobot's lead will be easy to keep, since the company's focus is kept narrow, and not expanding outward from home-cleaning products. The company once had a defense and security robotics division, but that division was spun out to become Endeavor Robotics.
Looking forward, we'd expect robot vacuums to add built-in support for voice commands, so you can order one to clean your house just by yelling from your couch. This feels like something iRobot should have in development already, as a developer has already hacked together an integration with Amazon's Alexa, as shown in the above video.
The real chase is who can bring such a product to the market and into a televised ad first. Maybe Amazon and iRobot are a match made in heaven, but if Amazon, or Google, let's say want to own the experience completely, one of those companies could probably make its own robot vacuum and challenge iRobot for the crown.