American in Spain

Roomba Eye View

September 13, 2011


Just over a year ago, in May of 2010, we bought Roomba. We had two recommendations from friends, so we splurged the 300€ and bought a robot to vacuum our floors. Initially it seemed pricy, but it's some of the best 300€ we've ever spent. As my wife said to me soon after we bought it...

I think I like the Roomba. It doesn't clean as well as I do, but it cleans about as well as you do.

I very quickly learned an important lesson of Roomba ownership: Do not watch it work! It will drive you mad. It will appear to drive right by every little speck that you want it to clean and if you want it to go to a certain part of the room, it will go to the other side. You just have to trust in its algorithms: if you let it run until it thinks it's done, it will probably have gotten to every last corner of your house. The proper way to use the Roomba, of course, is to turn it on before you leave home. That way you aren't tempted to watch it work, and it's also as noisy as any vacuum cleaner. The hardest part about vacuum cleaning now is picking up all the toys that the Roomba can choke on.

For a while now I've been meaning to duct tape my video camera to the Roomba to see what kind of "Roomba eye view" video would result. I finally got around to doing it this week, and I must say that I was hoping the result would be more interesting. There's a lot of stops and spins and very few long stretches as it bounces off all the furniture. The low angle view of our house is pretty neat, though.

It recorded fifty minutes of bouncing under chairs, the view from behind the toilet, and lots and lots of footage of our floor molding. I couldn't watch more than about four minutes of it, so I cut it off at the five minute mark and uploaded it.

It was an experiment that I wanted to try, and I'm glad I did, but I don't think I'll do it again.