18 Jun Is there a Robot in your future?
OK, so we may be a few years away from the amazingly cool robot co-star of Robot & Frank, but here are 7 “robots” that are already changing lives in and around our homes – who knows, maybe even yours!
Because, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Technology Association, 84% of the 45% of Americans who are familiar with robotics are already eager to use them to augment their lives, their adoption is happening faster than you can say C-3PO. Particularly when it comes to minimizing the drudgery of maintaining a home.
Robots under foot
As of early last year, iRobot had sold over 20 million Roomba Vacuuming Robots. And now, its latest Roomba s9+, comes with a square front end (rather than its previous circular footprint) all the better to thoroughly clean those corners and edges. And, using its Imprint Link Technology – so it remembers exactly what each room looks like and what it’s already cleaned in it, it can also “communicate” with iRobot’s Braava jet Robot Mop, which can be programmed to spring into action to start mopping the kitchen as soon as the s9+ docks. The s9+ with a Clean Base (for automatic dirt disposal) is available at Best Buy for $1,300, and you can save $300 by passing on the automatic emptying feature. But what’s the fun in that?
The Braava jet Robot Mop sweeps, as well as wet- or dry-mops hardwood, tile, and stone floors. It comes in two sizes: the large 380T will run you $248 at Amazon, while the Braava jet 240’s only $170 at Best Buy. Their heavy-duty big brother, the Braava jet M6 Wet/Dry Robotic Cleaner, is $500 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Robots on your walls and windows
Once your floors are sparkling clean, there are those windows to consider – particularly the exterior windows on your higher floors. The Hobot Window Cleaning Robots do the trick on windows, mosaic shower walls, and mirrors. Just like with the iRobot products: if you pay more, you get more. Starting with the 188, it will clean your windows pretty well, but, according to Modern Castle, if you’re looking for faster speed – one meter of clean windows every 2.4 minutes with the 268 or 288, vs. only one meter cleaned in 4 minutes with the 188 or 198, the 268 or 288’s the way to go. The 288 is also the newest, so it’s fully loaded with a larger size, advanced cleaning AI – that operates from your smartphone or its own remote, and it runs $449 on Amazon (delivered “tomorrow”). The smaller 188, on the other hand, is on the noisy side, but runs only $299 (also delivered tomorrow).
Robots for your backyard – or back forty
And once the inside of your house is spic and span, your grass can be robotically cut with a Husqvarna Automower, cutting your lawn mowing time down to a fraction of what it was in the days of pushing that cutter. However, there is a price to be paid for greater power area capacity and battery life: their 315X Robotic Lawn Mower starts at $1981, while the beefier, 4-star rated 430X runs $2630 – to cut up to three-quarters of an acre of grass, and the 450X – that can cut up to 1.3 acres on a charge – starts at $3289. To put in comparison: Husqvarna’s LC221A power mower (your power, augmented by a gas engine) runs $349.95.
And for those whose homes are surrounded by beautiful trees – whose leaves have a nasty tendency to drop in your rain gutters, there’s the iRobot Looj 330 Gutter Cleaning Robot. Just like the original Roombas, it has a one-button “CLEAN” mode, so you can stay on the ground, while the remote-controlled Looj clears out the dead leaves and other stuff you’d really rather not touch. Amazon carries it for $600.
And, just in time for summer, there’s the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner that scrubs away grease on charcoal, gas, and infrared grills with its brass brushes. One reviewer called it “essentially a Roomba for your grill.” Compared to some of the Roombas for other parts of your home, the 4-star-rated Grillbot is a bargain at $100, including its carrying case, or even less expensive at $90 without a case.
And Robots to “enlarge” your home
Last but not least, if you’re living in an apartment with a great address in Tokyo – or San Francisco, but with limited square footage, the ROGNAN line of automated modular furniture is for you. A spinout from MIT Media Lab, Ori Living has partnered with IKEA to bring robotic furniture to the “small space” market. As Seana Strawn, product developer for new innovations at IKEA, says, “When you sleep, you do not need your sofa. When you use your wardrobe, you do not need your bed.” Therefore, with a touch of a button, or an Alexa command, you can transform what was your “bedroom” into an office and a “living room.” ROGNAN’s large storage unit, that contains a bed, desk, and a couch for people to
pull out when needed, is controlled by a touchpad and can slide across the floor to divide a small room into two living spaces. It will launch first in Hong Kong and Japan in 2020, and no doubt be coming to dense urban environments in California and New York shortly thereafter. IKEA says the Rognan can save about 86 square feet of living space. That might not sound like much, but if you live in a tiny studio – like those in San Francisco renting for around $4,000 – it could make all the difference.
by Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Technology and Healthcare Companies