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Tech Industry: Scooba and Roomba
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Tech Industry: Scooba and Roomba

7:53 /

At CES 2011, Natali Morris shows off two tech toys that can help with the tasks we all hate doing around the house.

-I'm Natalie Morris and we're gonna take a first look today at the new iRobot line of products. Now, iRobot are the robots that clean your floor so they're little robotic vacuum cleaners. I love them. I use them at home all the time. This is Nancy Smith. She's with iRobot. Thank you for bringing by your little robot machines. -My pleasure. -So, you have a new line of Scooba and a new line of Roomba. Now, let's go over what each one of them do. The Roomba is a vacuum cleaner so it's not gonna pick up stains-- it's not gonna scrub your floors at all. It's just gonna pick up-- we have a little mess here and it does seem like an organized mess but we did kind of grind them into the carpet so we can really put it to the test. Because this is not for organized messes, right? This is for real-life messes. -That's right. The whole idea behind our robots, they work in real life situations so put it down in your home, push a button and let it go and it figures it out. The next day you can pick it up and bring it to your neighbor's house if you're real nice, put it down in their house and it works there great, too, so it's gonna work real life situations, in your home, cleaning up whatever you're putting down. -Okay. So we've got some Cheerios here. It's funny that you're encouraging sharing, that you buy one for the whole neighborhood, right? -It's the only robot you bring out at a dinner party, you know? So, you'll be cleaning up beforehand, make a little less so you can show people how your robot works. -It's a crowd pleaser, let me tell you, and Christmas gift that just keeps on giving so, okay, let's put it to the test. We have Cheerios here. It's the easiest system ever. It just goes down and then looks for the dirt itself, right? -Well, so, what it does is it tries to figure out the size of the space, cleaning as it goes. We're doing a little Roomba soccer here because we have a mess. The robot doesn't see dirt in front of it but it sees dirt underneath it so, there you go, that's good. It's gonna go ahead and you'll see the path it's cleaning. It's gonna clean around your shoe if you leave it there. It has sensors that can find edges and clean around edges so right now it's finding some dirty area, clean right over those Cheerios. Both the crushed up and the whole which is really nice so it picks up large objects as well as small and the idea here is that the robot will clean an area of your floor three to five times before it's done and then it will go back and charge itself and be ready to go again the next day. Okay, that's pretty amazing because it did, in fact, let's turn it off for a second. It did in fact pick up all the Cheerio and the debris. There's some that we've really embedded into the carpet here with my stiletto shoe so it's gonna need to come back and do that again, right? -That's right. The whole idea is that it will get that area again and again and so just like when you vacuum, you don't go over an area once, you need to cover it multiple times and our robot will get it three to five times before it shuts itself off. -Okay. One of the big things in my house, especially, is hair because I shed a lot of hair, especially just having had a baby, you know that. You shed a lot of hair, so, the hair gets wrapped around the bottom. Let's talk a little bit about that. -Sure. Can I pick it up? -Yeah, let's do. -Alright. Okay. So the robot has these two counter-rotating brushes that pick up a lot of hair and it's great because it actually pulls the hair out of the carpet so it does a great job picking it up but in the past, sometimes the hair would actually wrap around too much so you had to clean that up very frequently. Our new vacuum actually has an ability to pull some of that hair off. It's called AeroVac, and so it's pulling a lot of the hair off of the brushes and putting it back into the bin so that it cuts down on any wear and tear. People who've owned Roombas before have complained about that and this is a great fix for the new version. -Right. It tends to be a big pain in the butt so, now, you can just capture all the hair in this plastic thing, right? And then you just pull that out. -That's right. There's a little one here, pulls out. -And dump that in the trash. -That's right. We also now have HEPA-type filtration on it which is a new feature for the Roomba for the 700 series. -Okay. And then tell me a little bit about the timer as well. -Sure. This robot has the ability to be scheduled so you can schedule it up to seven times so you can have it go everyday at noontime while you're at work or you can have it at different times of the day if that works better for you and so it's very convenient. You don't even have to think about maintaining your floors. -Okay. And then the same sensor technology where you can cordoned off areas of your house. -That is correct. There is, however, a new sensor in some of our 700 series. The higher ends have a new Dirt Detect sensor which is very cool. The current one has a sensor that will detect fine particulate so it actually hears the dirt. The new ones actually also have optical sensors. They can see dirt underneath it that might be lighter so hair, like you were talking about. If you have a pet that sleeps in a certain area and there's a lot of hair there, you want the robot to spend more time there so the new higher end 700 series will do that. -Okay, and then you use these tiny little sensors to say don't go past this room, right? -Correct, so they're called Virtual Walls and you can set them up and the robot will actually ping them and turn them on and won't go past them, but it also has its own sensors built in like natural sensors like cliffs so it won't fall down stairs so you don't have to worry about blocking those off or anything. -That's so great. Okay, very good, and when does this come out and how much can we expect it? -Sure. Those are coming out the end of this-- in the middle of Q1 so if you go online to irobot.com and you can be updated as to when those will be available and the price range is $450 and up. -Okay. -For this version. -Alright. It's an expensive gift but let me tell you, if you hate washing floors and sweeping as much as I do, it's an investment worth looking into. Okay. Now, let's talk about the new Scooba. This is about half the size of the original Scooba so it's a lot smaller and, again, I use this in my house and one of the big complaints is that it doesn't get into the corners of the house so now it's smaller, made for corners? -It is made for tight spaces, absolutely. One of the biggest comments we got back from people is they wanted it to clean their bathrooms. Nobody likes cleaning bathrooms. I don't like cleaning bathrooms. -Right, who likes that? -Right. So, the Scooba in its original form was 13 inches in diameter, too big to fit around toilets and around pedestal sinks and things and so this nice, small, compact shape allows it to get into those tight areas and do a great job cleaning. -Okay. So let's go ahead and we put some coffee down and I'm not sure if our cameras can pick up but this is blue Gatorade here, could also be Windex, but you say that this is not for really recent spills so I wouldn't spill my coffee and then send the Scooba over. I would wipe it up with a paper towel and then send the Scooba for the stains, right? -That's right. And if you see, that coffee stain was dried on and it just did a great job lifting it and, again, the idea here is that it does the multiple pass. We've always found that the longer the robot runs and it can actually leave a little bit of water behind that actually loosens up stains 'cause there's water and cleaning solution. The great thing about these is that they're always putting down cleaning solution and water and picking up the dirty water so you're never washing with dirty water. -Okay. Now, you have-- you suggest certain types of cleaning solution but you can also use vinegar, right? -On our traditional Scoobas, you can use white vinegar which is great for hardwood floors, absolutely. -Okay. Alright, and tell us a little bit more about the bits and pieces underneath now that we've seen it clean up this coffee, we'll turn up. -Sure. -Upside down. -Yep. So, this robot is very easy to fill which was another piece of feedback that we had so it's just fill here and empty here so there's a water containment system in here that gets larger. The clean water gets filled up and as it's picking up dirty water, it's filling the empty space with the dirty water so, again, they never meet. On the bottom here, what we have is a plate that it uses to scrub the floor and then suck up the dirty water. This plate is removable and washable which is very important in our testing 'cause if I use this in my bathroom, I don't want it to go in my kitchen. -Yeah. For obvious gross reasons. -So, yes, exactly. So the idea here that you can take these off, wash them and reuse them or you can switch them out as need be so that's very nice. It's very compact, as you saw and the wheels just has a much lower threshold 'cause it's not made to go on carpet so you wanna keep it on the hard surfaces. Anything sealed, it's great for. -Alright. And you also mentioned that the battery life is longer for these, as well. -Correct. On the Roomba, the battery life has been increased by 50% and so the idea is that you can, one of the other uses people, we thought people were gonna use it once a week when we first came out with them but they're using two to three times a week, sometimes seven days a week. -Yeah. -So the battery life, with any rechargeable battery, we try to improve it all the time so this actually will last longer. -Okay, and we can see this, again, in Q1 and for how much? -That's correct. For $299. This robot will be available on our website. -Very good. Well, thank you very much. These are very fun little gadgets. I'm glad to have got to put them to the test.

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