We are now at the third evolutionary stage of home cleaning, moving forwards from the good old broom, to vacuum cleaners (as smart as they are now), to robots that smartly scamper around without needing your intervention. They’ll clean below the sofa too, something we don’t really attempt. Robots themselves needed to improve over time, and perhaps that evolution is well elaborated upon by the iRobot Roomba J7+, which for one, doesn’t trip over cables.
The reason Roomba J7+ has superior navigation tech is the inclusion of a camera at the front along with an LED spotlight, which gives further data for the artificially intelligent hazard detection to work with. This will also be learnt over time, which means more runs around your home will make it smarter. iRobot calls this ‘PrecisionVision Navigation’. The company is so confident, they say if anybody’s Roomba J7+ isn’t able to detect pet waste for instance and ends up smearing itself and the floor as a result, the company will replace the entire robot vacuum cleaner with a new model. (We don’t have pets at home, and therefore it isn’t something we’ve been able to test.)
What we have, instead, seen is how well the new-found navigation skills are, and thereby better obstacle detection work around wires and cables. The Roomba J7+ will notify you (via the smartphone app) if it detects a cable strewn around in any room – though you’ll need to enable this work-in-progress while setting up the Roomba J7+ via the app. You can mark obstacles as temporary too.
We noticed that even as it went beneath tables which tend to have wires on the floor beneath them, the Roomba J7+was able to successfully navigate around them (and in some cases, just over them so as to not miss a spot.
The advantage being this robot vacuum doesn’t end up entangled in carelessly strewn around cables (charging cables, lamp power cords, the lot) and neither will it end up precariously perched at the edge of an unnaturally thick carpet. There is a behavioural change in terms of bumping into things, but that’s still not entirely disappeared.
The iRobot J7+ looks forward, but not much towards the sides (considering the camera is wide-angle), and can bump into door frames and table legs as it plots a way forward. Small niggle, compared to the overall dialing up of smartness.
The Roomba J7+ is slightly wider, as far as dimensions go, than a nice porcelain dinner plate. Underneath are dual brush rolls with differing treads and patters for dust collection, as well as an edge sweeping brush that’s partly visible when at work. The brush rolls and their wider pattern spread and opposing direction movement should make carpet cleaning more effective, because that’s where the difficult dust and dirt mostly tends to be.
The big difference is that we noticed much less hair tangling in these brushes – they get sucked straight in.
You’ll notice a big button on the top of the Roomba J7+. There’s an LED ring around this button, which glows pale while it’s on charge, red when the battery charge is really low and turns off when everything is in place, and it’s docked. However, in our case, pressing this button on the Roomba J7+ never started the cleaning cycle – we always had to invoke the clean command from within the smartphone app.
The charging base (you may also call it the dock) is the final piece of what is a very tech-intensive utilitarian jigsaw. While mapping your home, the Roomba J7+ knows where this base is placed. It needs that knowledge too because that’s where it’ll charge and empty its bin. The latter’s functionality is what we believe adds to the convenience of having a robot vacuum cleaner in place.
After it has scampered around and cleaned the room (or multiple rooms), the Roomba J7+ will head back to the charging base and dock itself. Then you’ll hear a loud whirring sound for a handful of seconds – that’s the suction mechanism pulling the collected dust from the bin inside the Roomba J7+ to transferring it to the dirt disposal bag on the upper half of the base. This is big enough for as many as 60 days of dust collection, after which you replace it with another one.
The smartness and the subsequent potential of convenience of robot vacuum cleaners is what the iRobot Roomba J7+ is building on. It can automate the floor cleaning in your home. It can create maps for different rooms and empty its bin too. The core movement tech is definitely superior to the conventional Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) implementation, which gives the Roomba J7+ better sight of where it is going, and what to avoid. That reduces failure chances and the need for your intervention to sort out matters.
Technology improvements, of which there are many, don’t come easy on the price tag. The iRobot Roomba J7+ is priced at ₹74,900, which means we are making some serious investment for automated home cleaning.