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Connected Roombas get smarter with iRobot’s ‘Genius’ update

For iRobot, much of the last several years has been devoted to making its line of home-cleaning robots smarter. There hasn’t been much in the way of new hardware in a while, as the company focuses on things like connectivity, smart home integration and smarter cleaning. This latest update touches on all three, but primarily focuses on the latter.

Intelligence has long been a bit of a sticking point for the Roomba skeptics. The robotic vacuums have traditionally relied on patterns and physical barriers to offer the best clean. This week’s addition of the Genius Home Intelligence feature, on the other hand, brings a number features aimed at optimizing the cleaning efficiency of existing robots.

The feature is accessible through an update of the company’s Home app and will work with all of iRobot’s connected devices, including the Roomba i7 and i9 vacuums, along with the Braava Jet M6 mop. There’s a laundry list of different updates here, including personalized cleaning schedules developed around the user’s habits and/or preferences. The robots can also specifically target areas where messes tend to accrue, including tables and kitchen counters, setting it in motion with a voice command like, “Roomba, clean around the couch.”

Schedules can be set, including prompts like After Dinner and Bedtime, and the robots can be set to start cleaning when you leave the house and return to their charging bases when you get back. Other options include seasonal cleaning protocols and the ability to set “keep out zones” for the robots.

The news comes during what’s been a bit of a rough year for the Bedford, Massachusetts-based company. Back in April, the company announced it would not be releasing its Terra lawn mowing robot in 2020, as it cut around 5% of its global headcount amid a “repriortization.” The company laid the blame at the feet of COVID-19, as industrial automation companies have seen an increase in interest amid the pandemic.

The Genius feature begins rolling out this week.

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