Ecovacs: AI is important but not everything

T30 Pro Omni
Pictured: Ecovacs T30 Pro Omni
// "There is intelligence outside of AI"
Anula Wiwatowska
May 27, 2024
Icon Time To Read2 min read

Nestled in the eye of the AI boom the technology has encroached upon every product category, whether it aids or impedes the user. While laptops and bespoke gadgets hurry to bring something with an ‘AI’ sticker to market, the robot vacuum cleaner group has been implementing these features since 2018, universally benefitting the category as a whole. With years of AI development under its belt, Ecovacs told Reviews.org Australia that there is more to product intelligence than the artificial.

“There are different elements [to intelligence], and I think there is intelligence outside of AI as well,” Ecovacs Regional Director Karen Powell told Reviews.org.

“Within robot vacuums you’ve got the intelligence in terms of navigation for example, which steps away from AI. Using different laser navigation and systems to be able to build these maps, you can customise the home and it gets to know your home so it can clean it really efficiently. So I think that intelligence has been more important.”

Powell doesn’t deny the impact AI has had on the product category however, saying that obstacle recognition programs have had a large impact on the market overall.

“It is very important that they can clean and be very, very convenient. You don’t have to clean up before you clean up, so actually putting tools in to enable it to have eyes and ears, as it were, in a robot [had a big impact].”

Anyone who had a first, or second, or even third generation robot vacuum cleaner would attest to this. These household gadgets have gotten smarter across the board, and AI integration coupled with physical improvements like auto-empty stations have progressively made them more autonomous. Alongside these advancements, brands including Ecovacs have added voice assistants and aspects such as home monitoring using the on-board cameras. Powell says the consumer response to these features has been positive with Ecovacs’ Yiko assistant garnering 400 million requests.

“The feedback that we got [was] that people wanted to be able to talk directly to the robot when it was in front of them, so it was having this dialogue with the Deebot rather than through this third-party application [like Alexa or Google Assistant].”

It is hard to think about a robot roaming your home and speaking without drawing images of the Little AI Guy like Samsung’s Ballie to mind. Despite the similarities with the concepts we saw at CES, Powell doesn’t see robovacs heading in that direction in the immediate future.

“When we’ve spoken about it previously, there has been a dialogue around robots being best at functioning to do mundane tasks, that we as humans don’t want to do. So it is a very, very specific thing to vacuum and mop your floor, and we’ve designed it so that it is very focused on the ability to do that.”

While Ecovacs continues to further technologies with AI, its latest robot vacuum the T30 Pro Omni swings in the other direction, catering to a more hands and feet-on approach. Foot Touch Controls allows users to tap the bumper with their foot to start an automatic cleaning cycle, and Intelligent Touch Spot Cleaning lets the user place the unit on the floor, and clean 1.5m2 with the touch of a button.

“It's really about in some ways advancing with AI, and then other times kind of going back to basics.”

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Anula Wiwatowska
Written by
Anula Wiwatowska
Anula is the Content and Social Media Editor within the Reviews.org extended universe. Working in the tech space since 2020, she covers phone and internet plans, gadgets, smart devices, and the intersection of technology and culture. Anula was a finalist for Best Feature Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards, and an eight time finalist across categories at the IT Journalism Awards. Her work contributed to WhistleOut's Best Consumer Coverage win in 2023.

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