Roombas Will Help Clean up Your Home’s Weak WiFi

iRobot's top-tier Roomba robot vacuums will soon be able to sweep your home for weak WiFi signals, logging spotty areas and helping users improve their WiFi.

Photo Caption: iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum (Credit: iRobot)

iRobot’s Roomba robot vacuums have a new enemy: weak WiFi. The RBR50 company will later this month make it possible for WiFi-enabled Roombas to create a map of indoor WiFi signals in your home and search for spotty signals.

Available on iRobot’s Roomba 960 and Roomba 980, the new feature will log any problem areas and merge that data with the vacuum’s coverage maps.

The WiFi maps won’t show upload and download speeds. The information will show up as decibel readings. Roomba owners can then use the info to tweak their network settings or see where they might need a signal extender.

Robot Vacuum Comparison: iRobot Roomba 960 vs. Roomba 980

iRobot has talked for a while now about making the Roomba an essential part of the connected home. This is certainly a little more insight into its thinking. Chris Jones, iRobot’s VP of Technology, is featured in our CES conference “Artificial Intelligence: Insights into Our Future.” We will be sure to ask Jones about this news and the role he sees the Roomba playing in smart homes going forward.

iRobot Roomba WiFi Signal Mapping
Credit: iRobot

According to CNET, WiFi mapping will be an upgrade initially available only to members of its Beta program. However, the report says iRobot does does anticipate larger trials that “may involve 10-20 percent of iRobot users.” The beta program will launch on January 23.

iRobot got into a bit of hot water late in 2017 when iRobot CEO Colin Angle seemed to imply that the company intended to sell user’s mapping detail to third-parties. However, Angle quickly clarified his statement by saying, “iRobot will never sell your data.”

In mid-2017, iRobot rolled out Amazon Alexa voice control to its WiFi-enabled Roombas. Alexa voice control allows users to start, stop and pause their Roomba 960 or Roomba 980 by simply speaking to an Alexa-enabled device, such as the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. For example, saying “Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning” will fire up the robot vacuum. iRobot didn’t specify when, or if, Alexa support will be rolled out globally.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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