Famibot patrols your home and cleans your air

Ecovacs' roaming robot is also a home sentry, communications tool, and music player.

Minibot, left, is a pint-sized version of the watchdog and chat droid Famibot. Tim Hornyak/CNET

LAS VEGAS--People are getting very used to having robots like Roomba running around their floors. They're very popular as animal and baby vehicles too.

Chinese vacuum-maker Ecovacs, though, wants more functionality in domestic bots. At CES 2013, it demonstrated its Famibot and Minibot, which can perform a host of handy functions while you're busy being lazy.

Shown off at IFA 2012, Famibot is a service droid that can be controlled via your smartphone or any Wi-Fi connection.

Its primary function is to roam around your floors and purify the air. When it senses a particularly dirty zone, such as cigarette smoke, it will focus on that area.

Ecovacs staff put it through its paces, though interference from the Las Vegas Convention Center venue messed up wireless commands and it was slow to respond.

Equipped with cameras, Famibot can act as a telepresence robot when you're away, giving you video of what's going on at home, or letting you chat with an elderly relative living alone, for example.

It can also play music, and give you remote control of connected household appliances like your air conditioner or lights.

Famibot will also send you alerts if it detects an unexpected person in the home, or if it picks up smoke from a possible fire.

Minibot, meanwhile, is Famibot's smaller companion. It has many of the latter's features but not the air purifying.

Ecovacs says the two droids should hit U.S. markets in the first half of 2013, with Famibot having a suggested retail price of $899, and Minibot priced at $499.

Not bad for some very handy tin cans.

 

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