EXPANDING ROBOT VACUUMS' CAPABILITIES

With industry partner iRobot

What if we could make robot vacuums serve a greater purpose in users' homes?

For a design strategy course, our graduate cohort partnered with iRobot under a confidentiality agreement. Of four teams, ours, consisting of five students, was asked to explore ways to extend the uses of the camera technology used on iRobot's robot vacuum, Roomba, by identifying novel uses for the camera, useful ways to combine the camera with other sensors, and/or new market spaces the camera could help iRobot enter. The iRobot team specifically requested we present a 5-to-7-year strategic plan with this technology in mind. 

 

We were given design constraints concerning the robots' size and shape, but were otherwise encouraged to explore all design directions. Understanding our users as fully as possible required us to identify and learn from robot vacuum users as well as users in analogous markets and across the spectrum of IoT devices. To develop a more rigorous strategy, we gathered qualitative and quantitative data using surveys, assessed current market competition and future market trends, and conducted contextual interviews and observations with a wide variety of current and potential robot vacuum users.

 

Our team developed a three-tiered strategy we called "rHome," pronounced "roam." Each tier of the strategy was increasingly complex, with the first step designed to be ready for market introduction within 6 months and the last intended for roll-out in the requested 5-7 years. rHome extended the reach of iRobot in the IoT marketplace and created value for the company by entering a market whitespace.

Roles I Played

  • ​Conducted contextual interviews and observations

  • Conducted secondary market research

  • Created frameworks to visualize research findings

  • Generated actionable insights

  • Formally presented insights and design strategy to clients at iRobot HQ