“Hey Alexa -- clean my house for me.”
Alexa, Amazon’s all-knowing and doing voice assistant can now help people vacuum, thanks to a partnership between the Seattle-based retail giant and iRobot, a maker of consumer robots.
Alexa’s New Skill
Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot announced updates for the iRobot HOME App on both iOS and Android to continue integrating its line of Roomba-connected vacuums to the smart home, integrating Amazon Alexa and its voice control into the app.
"iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers' experience with our cleaning robots," said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot in a statement.
In addition to adding voice control, the HOME App is getting new Clean Map reports that provide details about cleaning performance, including what part of the floor is the dirtiest, how much space was cleaned, time taken and more.
Inside the iRobot HOME App, customers can start, stop and pause a cleaning job, using just their voice.
The Alexa skill for Roomba vacuums will be available in the second quarter of 2017 to U.S. customers and is compatible with all connected Roomba vacuums, including the 900 series.
Amazon’s Further Push into the Home
There are over 7,000 skills for Alexa, in areas such as telling the news, ordering food and cars, but this latest push appears to be pushing Amazon further into the smart home category.
Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson believes that Amazon is using the Echo speaker and its voice assistant, Alexa, to enter the home and potentially beyond, as tech companies fight for consumers' attention in the Internet of Things.
“That could mean a broader push into home automation, a second attempt at creating a smartphone, a larger set of services for the home, or any number of other things,” Dawson said, via email. “The biggest challenge for Alexa remains getting it out of the home, because most of the integration announcements we’ve seen so far and all of Amazon’s own hardware are limited to the home.”
By expanding Alexa’s presence -- in vacuums, smartphones or TV sets -- Amazon could wind up generating an additional $10 billion in revenue by 2020, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said earlier this month.