Here at DT, we’ve tested just about every major robotic vacuum in the biz, and regardless of the make or model, we consistently have the same gripe about every one we try — they don’t have network connectivity options. Despite boasting all manner of sophisticated navigation software and room-scanning sensors, there isn’t a single model on the market that can connect to your home Wi-Fi network or interface with your smartphone.
But not to worry; Netherlands-based startup Thinking Bits has come up with a solution. The company has developed a device called Thinking Cleaner that you can retrofit onto any model of Roomba to give it additional capabilities.
Designed to replace the faceplate of your existing Roomba, Thinking Cleaner can be installed in minutes and doesn’t alter the bot’s shape or size. Once it’s snapped into place, the device connects Roomba to your home wireless network and gives you all the features and functionality that iRobot forgot to include — smartphone-based scheduling, remote control, push notifications, and a whole lot more.
If the bot ever gets stuck or the dustbin gets full, Thinking Cleaner can beam an alert to your phone to let you know. When you leave the house in the morning, the bot can tell when your smartphone goes out of range of your Wi-Fi network and use that as a contextual trigger to automatically activate the bot’s cleaning cycle. If your Roomba should ever get lost, you can simply fire up the accompanying mobile app and tap the locator button; the bot will sing a song to help you track it down. Thinking Bits even built in HomeKit compatibility, so you’ll be able to link your Roomba to other smart devices in your house.
The coolest part is that because it’s a retrofit and not a full-on robot, Thinking Cleaner is much easier on your wallet. Wi-Fi functionality isn’t even available on current robotic vacuums, but when manufacturers like Moneual, Neato, and iRobot do start building it into their products, you can bet that it’ll only be available on the most expensive models.
Alternatively, if you back the Thinking Cleaner now on Kickstarter, you can lock one down for about $120 bucks.