Even before the whole smart home and IoT market exploded, there was the Roomba. Looking more like a squished trash can, iRobot’s flagship product defied your expectations of robots and vacuum cleaners. But just because you came first doesn’t exactly make you the clear winner. iRobot has, in fact, been trying to catch up with the increasingly connected homes, and stumbling along way. And what better way to say “connected to the Internet” than with IFTTT automation.
IFTTT, short for “If That Then This”, is an Internet service designed to tie together other Internet services in a programmable workflow. When a condition is met, usually some data is received or some action is taken, IFTTT fires off a trigger that causes some action to be taken, like posting on social networks, firing off an email and the like.
Thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices and the rising number of Internet-connected appliances at home, IFTTT has grown to embrace even more devices and use cases, like turning lights on or off, closing garages, and more. Newest to that list is cleaning your living room floor.
The “recipes”, in IFTTT parlance, for the Roomba range from the practical to the absurd. You can, for example, program it to automatically start cleaning before your scheduled dinner party, or pause vacuuming when you answer a call so you can hear each other better. But having the Roomba tweet when it’s done its work, or tweeting it to make it start, is a bit mind-boggling.
iRobot is currently trying to find its footing in an increasingly crowded world of connected devices, especially ones that connect to personal assistants like
Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. It might have been a bit too eager, as it came under fire for allegedly trying to sell maps that the Roomba made of the owner’s home, something the company tried to clarify later on.