Reporting from CES 2013 by Jamie Carter
Robots aren’t robots unless they understand human speech. It’s that clean logic that’s behind LG’s latest version of its robotic vacuum cleaner, which has upped its communication skills and can now be told what to do – by voice or via LG’s SmartControl smartphone app.
Equipped with three cameras for room mapping and an infra-red sensor to stop it bumping into walls and furniture, the Smart HomBot – AKA HomBot 2.0 – now requires a WiFi network.
Get it online and it suddenly starts to both listen and obey, though all of this comes via a smartphone app – there’s no microphone on the Smart HomBot itself.
Load up that app and it’s a cinch to issue the commands to clean or return to its recharging station just by pressing buttons, so much so that the voice interaction is really nothing more than a novelty. Press the microphone icon and the Smart HomBot understands simple commands like ‘start cleaning’, ‘stop cleaning’ and the slightly awkward sounding ‘move to home’. It’s also necessary to start each command by saying ‘Hom-Bot!’, which is anything but natural.
We tried this feature out in a closed-off room at CES 2013, and though impressive in part – the HomBot did obey us – until the robot itself has a built-in microphone we’re not sure it’s a reason to buy.
What might have wider appeal is the smartphone app control itself; as well as in-room activation the HomBot can hence be controlled from anywhere in the world.
If you’re horrified at the thought of being in a far-off destination while thinking about nothing more than how slightly dusty your living room is, consider this; the smartphone app also has timers, so acts as an easy to use interface to create a daily schedule for HomBot.
As a final flashy feature, those with an NFC phone can touch it to a wall-pad to instantly start HomBot 2.0, which is possibly the most useful innovation in the long-term. Best of all, though, it’s quiet – just how a smart robot should be.
What’s new in LG HomBot 2.0?
The LG HomBot 2.0’s features include extended sweeper brushes for reaching deeper into the corners of your rooms, and improved cameras and sensors to map your home and avoid obstacles.
It won’t pick up your pants from under the bed.
LG SmartControl – for all appliances
The LG SmartControl app doesn’t just control the HomBot – it can be used with all of LG’s smart home appliances from lighting to washing machines.
SmartControl works from anywhere
The HomBot 2.0 reports its status to the LG SmartControl app, even if you’re away from home.