Here's How To Use Your Roomba As A Security Camera With This Little Known Feature

Having a robot vacuum definitely has its perks. You get to avoid the time suck and effort it takes to comb through your home's floors with a bulky and noisy device. You can automate it to clean on a schedule, eliminating one more task you need to remember to do or physically need to be around for. If you or someone you live with is sensitive to allergens like dust, this also becomes less of a problem because most robot vacuums are designed to filter the air and keep whatever it captures locked in. Those who find that vacuuming their space is a must on a daily basis ought to invest in a good robot vacuum.

One of the best robot vacuum manufacturers is iRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba model. The company's j7 series — the Roomba j7, Roomba j7+, and Roomba Combo j7+ – are some of the most popular picks among the lineup, and each machine under the iteration can be instantly told to clean up messes as they happen. The j7/j7+ models also automatically avoid pet waste (which would otherwise clog a vacuum up), recognizes potential obstacles and remembers to avoid them in the future, and empties its dirt bin on its own. However, thanks to a beta feature that recently expanded to a more general rollout called "Remote Check-In", owners of the Roomba j7/j7+ and Roomba combo can do so much more with their trusty cleaning pal.

How does Remote Check-In work?

If you have a compatible Roomba robot vacuum, you can navigate toward any location (that's already been mapped by your device) in your space and initiate a video live stream using the machine's built-in object-detecting camera. You can view the video feed through the mobile app, and only you can view it. The feature is turned off by default and is optional, and footage is never stored or accessed by iRobot at any time, ensuring that your privacy is sufficiently protected, according to the company.

Remote Check-In is a great and useful feature to have from a security standpoint as it allows you to quickly check for any significant changes in your home environment while you are away. Of course, the Roomba is above all else still a vacuum, so if you have a scheduled cleaning mission that's about to take place, it will interrupt an ongoing live stream. If you want to manually start a cleaning mission, you can only do so after properly ending a check-in live stream.

For now, Remote Check-In is only available in the U.S. and only for iOS users. In addition, only j7 series robot vacuums are eligible for the upgrade, and only one j7 vacuum per iRobot account will be able to use the feature as intended. If you have more than one j7 device listed in your account, according to iRobot, "the feature will not work as expected."

How to enable and use Remote Check-In for your Roomba j7/j7+ and Combo

Provided that you have a compatible Roomba robot vacuum, have the iRobot Home app installed on an iOS device, and have a smart customized map, you may be able to opt into Remote Check-In. Here's how:

  1. Launch the mobile app.
  2. Go to the Beta section at the bottom section of the home screen.
  3. Next to "Turn on Remote Check-In," switch the toggle to the on position.

Once Remote Check-In is enabled, it should show up as a brand-new option any time you tap the "New Job" button located at the top-right corner of the screen. You can drive the vacuum to any part of the house — provided that the area has been previously mapped by the device — or visit any designated viewpoint using the app's map screen.

Even though you will be able to essentially use your Roomba robot vacuum as a hall monitor of sorts for your home, it isn't quite as powerful or as accurate as an actual security camera. Remote Check-In can only be initiated when you manually launch it through the app — it won't be able to detect motion or sound at your house, and it won't automatically kick on. At the very least, it can help you occasionally check on your pet or verify if you accidentally left your refrigerator door ajar.