clock menu more-arrow no yes

Roomba maker iRobot may make robots that talk to your smart home devices

Will the future of robots look more like “The Jetsons” or “The Terminator”?

Vjeran Pavic for Recode

Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot, best known as the maker of the Roomba, sells robots that can clean physical things: Your floors, swimming pool or gutters. Its next products might look to tidy up something you can’t see — the data informing your smart home.

Speaking on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, iRobot vice president of technology Chris Jones said he’s thinking about robots that act as mobile sensors, traversing the home and measuring things like temperature and humidity. Speaking with Kara Swisher and special guest host Dan Frommer, Jones said that potential route would build on iRobot’s advancements in understanding a home’s geography.

"The ability for a robot to navigate around the home, to understand where it is in the space, to re-recognize when it goes through the home and comes back to somewhere it’s been before, to not be dumb, is artificial intelligence," Jones said. "Robots are unique in the sense that they’re mobile, they’re physically interacting in the real world."

That sets them apart from other related efforts at artificial intelligence, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistants, he added.

"You can’t put something on a robot and say, well, it’s going to work 90 percent of the time," Jones said.

Chris, Kara and Dan also answered questions from our readers and listeners about robotics, including how robots might work on farms and whether the TV show "BattleBots" is a form of cruelty.

Listen to Too Embarrassed to Ask in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.

Thank you to everyone else who sent in their questions about robots. You can tweet your questions, comments and complaints about any tech topic to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. And be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to get alerted when we're looking for questions about a specific topic.

If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events such as the Code Conference, Recode Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara and Lauren. Tune in next Friday for another episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask!

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.