Why iRobot’s Colin Angle thinks the smart home starts with a robot vacuum

Matthew Lynley for TechCrunch:  Robots — and the smart home in general — are a hot topic, and it’s one where an enormous amount of investment is happening right now. There are many companies like Nest and Ring that are trying to target segments of the home in the hopes of making everything smarter.

But it’s easy to forget that the home is still a physical space, and in order for everything to work together, it has to understand what that looks like. And iRobot, the makers of a robot vacuum cleaner, have been trying to crack that problem for more than 20 years. Until robots can figure that out, and talk to each other, it’s going to be an uphill battle to build a truly smart home, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2016.

“In the virtual world, it’s very easy to understand everything about the environment because it’s inside the computer,” Angle said. “If you have a simulated room you’re inside the computer. You know precisely where things are. In the robot industry, we almost dislike simulations because they are doomed to succeed.  Cont'd...

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