Weak Wi-Fi has a new enemy, your Roomba. Along with dirt, iRobot's Roomba 900 series models will soon hunt down your home's wireless dead zones too. New software activates the ability and is due to arrive by mid-January. Specifically the upgrade covers iRobot's top-tier vacuums, the Roomba 960 ($700, which converts to about £515 or AU$890) and Roomba 980 ($900 or £899, which converts to AU$1,500).
When enhanced, the robots will clean floors normally while searching for spotty networking signals. The robots log any problem areas and merge that data with vacuum coverage maps they ordinarily create. Roomba owners can then use the info to tweak their wireless networks accordingly.
Don't get too excited. The upgrade won't be widely available, at least at first.
iRobot plans to offer the upgrade only to members of its Beta program. According to an iRobot spokesperson, "initially test groups could be as small 100 to 200 participants." The company, however, does anticipate larger software trials that, "may involve 10-20 percent of iRobot users".
Of course iRobot isn't the first manufacturer to bump up the capabilities of its existing vacuums. Neato, maker of our Editors' Choice award winning, has steadily broadened the range of its floor cleaners. Neato machines currently accept your spoken and . They will also respond to prompts over and .