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CES 2020: This could be the year your robot vacuum gets a security camera

I’ve raved about the increased quality of life I’ve enjoyed over the past several months thanks to how robot vacuums save me time from cleaning and free me up to focus on other things. Not everyone has the time, or even the patience, to clean their home on a regular basis, which is why robot vacuums are so helpful. The models we’re getting nowadays are incredibly sophisticated, to the point that operating one is simple as a voice command away — or even a tap of an on-screen button in a mobile app.

Even better is the fact that prices have declined steadily to give more people the ability to buy them. The inevitable reality is that they’ll continue to become sleeker, more powerful, and smarter, resulting in a more efficient cleaning routine. However, in order to reach the next evolutionary milestone, it looks like they’ll need to be outfitted with cameras — and that’s what we expect to see at CES 2020. When you look at all the improvements that A.I. brings to the table, it’s easy to see that the future of these small appliances will include full autonomy. 

First line of defense

With these future innovations, we can expect a time when robot vacuums will become the first line of defense when it comes to protecting the home. In the smart home space already, there’s this trend of devices becoming multifunctional — with the Google Nest Hub Max being the perfect example. At the core of it all, it’s still a smart display, but one that leverages its built-in camera to act as a home security system. When you’re away, it acts as a Nest Cam to detect motion and even faces.

Nest Hub Max Home App
John Velasco/Digital Trends

At CES 2020, we may very well see some interesting robot vacuums that feature cameras to help it do all sorts of new things. Currently, we have models traversing rooms with the help of laser navigation. Incorporating cameras, however, would greatly increase the way robot vacuums navigate by detecting obstacles with the help of artificial intelligence. Similar to how smartphone cameras detect faces and recognize scenes for optimal results, cameras can help robot vacs to detect cords on the floor and other clutter, so they don’t trip up or get tangled by them. Any robot vacuum owner can testify how this continues to be a constant problem, even for some of the pricier high-tech models.

A digital watchdog

All of this goes back to security in the home. Most of the time ,they’re sitting in their bases and charging. Why not leverage them to do tasks beyond automated cleaning? During IFA 2019, Trifo unveiled its home security robot vacuum called the Max — and it gives us more of a complete idea for the future of robot vacuums. Not only does it feature a camera to allow users to remotely view its stream, but they can also speak to people through the robot vacuum. 

Trifo Max Robot Vacuum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Besides cleaning during the day, they can operate at a lower level at night while acting as a watchdog — hiding in plain sight, monitoring your home while you sleep. Best of all, they’re mobile and can intelligently detect noises and motion. The possibilities are endless when you think about it, but there’s always going to be that concern for privacy and data.

As much as I’m excited about this, these camera-outfitted robot vacuums will still need to go through the proper testing and certification to meet the high standards of today’s smart home ecosystems. Google mentioned to us the strict vetting process enforced when it comes to approving products that are certified for the Works with the Google Assistant program.

With CES right around the corner, we’ll know soon enough if this will be the trend next year.

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John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
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