IFA 2018: Neato and Ecovacs announce new robot vacuums and artificial intelligence

With people working hard and more concern about pets and allergies, robot vacuums are getting more popular and are sure to be a key gift this holiday season.

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Image: Neato

Research shows that the robot vacuum market is increasing thanks to a few factors, including a need to reduce allergens in the environment, less time to do house chores, and increasing use of robot vacuums in businesses.

Every home in our new development has wood floors on the ground level while family and friends also are making moves to wood flooring as the predominant floor covering in their homes. Wood, tile, and linoleum floors are good for pets and also help reduce allergens in the home. Wood and low-pile carpets are perfect for robot vacuums and as these vacuums improve, their popularity increases.

Neato and Ecovacs are two companies who compete with Dyson, Samsung, LG, Miele, ILIFE, and more in the robot vacuum space. Last year I tested the Ecovacs Deebot R95 and this year the Neato Botvac D7 Connected. Both vacuums are excellent choices and at IFA 2018 this week both companies made some announcements.

Ecovacs

Just as we have seen with some of the latest smartphones, AI is making its way to the robot vacuum space. Ecovacs announced AIVI (Artificial Intelligence and Visual Interpretation). The advanced AI-enabled function is designed to meet the growing consumer demand for minimal manual intervention during cleaning by introducing object/environmental recognition in addition to spatial recognition.

While my older robot vacuum does a great job of vacuuming and saves me some time, I still have to move thick rubber pads by the sink, pick up slippes around the house, and move my charging cables. This new Ecovacs AIVI gives the robots the capability, at the user's discretion, to recognize and avoid selected household items that typically obstruct the path of conventional floor cleaning robots or vacuum cleaners, such as cables, shoes, slippers, dustbins, doorsills, and rugs. This alone may prompt me to look to Ecovacs for my next vacuum.

Ecovacs also showed off the Deebot Ozmo 930, a vacuuming/mopping robot, and the WINBOT X, a cordless window cleaner. Cleaning all of the windows in my home is an annual chore I do not enjoy so letting a robot carry out this task sounds good to me.

Neato

A couple years ago I purchased a Neato Botvac D85, but it seems I was just a bit too early since this vacuum did not have any smartphone or smart home connectivity and required clunky magnetic strips to control where it worked. I do like the Neato Botvac design with the square front that seems to do a better job of full coverage, but I haven't made the jump to the more expensive connected models yet.

The new Botvac D4 Connected ($499) replaces the existing D3 and features Neato's signature LaserSmart mapping and navigation (LIDAR technology), virtual No-Go Lines (previously only available at the top-of-the-line), improved battery life (33% more run time) and Quick Boost charging.

The new Botvac D6 Connected ($699) offers all of the D4 features, along with an upgraded brush for better cleaning against pet hair and allergens, Eco & Turbo modes, and Multiple Floor Plan support, each with virtual No-Go Lines.

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected will be receiving an update that will introduce Zone Cleaning, allowing users to create zones on their floorplan in the Neato app for a more targeted and customized clean. The Zone Cleaning option is a great idea since I often have a few select areas where pet hair congregates and would love to just hit those spots on a daily basis.