The number of ways you can automate your home just by barking at it continues to grow, with Neato adding Google Home support to its connected robot vacuum range. Available as a new talent for the smart speaker today, the integration allows you to trigger a clean entirely hands-free. The functionality joins Neato‘s existing Amazon Alexa support.
The most common instruction is likely to be “Ok Google, tell Neato robot to start cleaning.” That will send the robotic vacuum scurrying from its charging dock to begin a cycle around whatever space it’s in. If it begins to run low on power, it’ll automatically return to the dock, recharge, and – if necessary – venture out again to complete the chore.
However, it’s not the end of Neato’s Google Home integration. Owners of both devices will be able to check the vacuum’s battery level by asking the Google Assistant for that information, as well as locate a lost robot somewhere in the home using Neato’s FindMe feature. Even fairly advanced features like scheduling, which would normally require opening up Neato’s companion smartphone app, can now be carried out by voice.
Of course, you’ll need one of the models from Neato’s Botvac Connected range in order to actually use the feature. Initially, that will mean the D3 Connected, D5 Connected, and Botvac Connected vacuums. Google Home integration will be offered in the US only, at least for the moment, unlike Alexa support which is in the US, UK, and Germany for the same models. It follows arch-rival Roomba adding Alexa support for its robotic vacuum cleaners only yesterday.
Though there’s no shortage of robotic vacuums on the market right now, all generally use a different type of navigation system. In Neato’s case, that’s laser scanning: the circular turret on top of the robot continuously maps out the space around it, much like an autonomous car does with a roof-mounted LIDAR. Combined with a front bumper, the Botvac range is able to navigate in darkness, unlike vision-based robo-vacs.
As for the D-shaped design, in a world of generally circular rivals, Neato says that’s all in the name of better edge cleaning. The company’s Botvacs have a broad brush-bar that runs the width of the widest section, and Neato says that by pushing it as forward as possible, the robots can more efficiently reach into corners, nooks, and crannies. In addition to Alexa, the Neato app – and, indeed, basic controls on the vacuums themselves – there’s also integration with a Neato Chatbot for Facebook Messenger.