Although, the robotic vacuum market has been pioneered by iRobot and its famous Roombas, Neato Robotics quickly became a prominent player in the realm of robotic vacuums. This success is rooted in a strong culture of technological innovation. It’s obvious when analyzing the characteristics and patents included in Neato cleaning robots. These robots were refined generation after generation, starting with the early silver XV series, through the black Signature series, to the recent colorful BotVac series.
We list here some of the innovative features that make Neato perform better than the competition and rank as the best robotic vacuums in tests we have performed:
- D shape: While almost all robotic vacuums are round, Neato makes vacuums that are D-shaped. Its flat head is designed to reach corners as we do with manual vacuums. It is complemented with a side brush to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Systematic cleaning: The flat cylinder on top of the Neato, is actually a laser range sensor, that operates even in a dark room. It allows Neato build a map of the room. Based on this map, the robot moves around methodically to clean every inch of your house. Besides, it’s motion is more natural and predictable since it is closer to what a human actually does with a traditional vacuum. The laser has a secondary interesting consequence. The vacuum detects furniture from afar and avoids bumping into them.
- The boundary marker (also called virtual wall) is a flat magnetic tape that one can put everywhere. It’s passive and requires no battery to operate. The Neato embeds a magnetic sensor that detects the marker around the area to avoid. No battery results into less maintenance, and less waste making the Neato eco-friendly home robots.
- Latest Neato robots and more specifically the BotVac Connected are Wifi enabled. They can be controlled via a smartphone app from anywhere through the Internet. So, you don’t need to use the robot buttons if you have your phone at hand. You can select a cleaning mode and the robot, suspend/resume/cancel cleaning or make the robot go back to its charger. The app also provides info and notifications about the robot status (e.g. remaining battery, or dirt bin is full), and allows to set and update cleaning schedule.
- Controlling the BotVac Connected from a smartphone is already great. But, what’s even cooler is that users can start, stop, and receive notifications about the cleaning with just a glance or tap on the wrist. It works both for the Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches.
Neato strategy is now oriented towards smart homes. This requires connectivity and ease of control. Controlling the vacuum robot via a smartphone or a smartwatch over Wifi was the first step. Neato took a step forward by relying on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for operating its Botvac Connected series, including the new affordable Botvac D3 and the D5 Connected.
With the Neato Chatbot for Facebook and Messenger apps, you can remotely send messages from your smartphone to a BotVac, and the robot will text back in english.
Messages can be commands such as: “Start cleaning”, “Return to base”.
You can also query the vacuum’s status by sending messages such as “How is my robot?”
Texting your robot is already cool. What’s even cooler is talking to it, and having it talk back to you. The first implementation of the voice command to control BotVac is available since fall 2016. It relies on Alexa, the AI of Amazon Echo. So, you can just say “Alexa, ask Neato to start cleaning” and the robot starts vacuuming your floor. And in case the phone rings, just say “Alexa, ask Neato to pause cleaning”, and your room gets quiet for your conversation.
On the 2017 spring, Neato announces that voice command of its Botvac Connected series has been integrated with the Home-Assistant by Google. It’s now possible to schedule cleaning by simply saying “OK Google, tell Neato Robot to clean on Friday at 10 am”. No, it’s not Sci-Fi anymore. Everyone can have at home a robot to talk!