While there was much clamoring over solar-powered cars, brainy Crock-Pots, and 50 Cent-hawked waterproof headphones at this year’s International CES in Las Vegas, robots still very much played a major role at the frenzied mega-trade show.
Mostly, they were cleaning up messes.
While I tottered and weaved across the squishy, everlasting floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall, I spotted a handful of hardworking, Roomba-esque domestic servants. Some, I suspect were actually Roombas. Or were they Scoobas? Roomba relatives? Roomba rip-offs? Roombas in fancy dress? I really had no clue — I just remember a lot of flashing lights, loud noises, and about 900 people in business attire subjecting themselves to horrifying-looking massage chairs.
However, I do recall, in my disoriented and dehydrated state, that some of the industrious bots on display at CES were performing dedicated tasks that didn’t involve floors. They were cleaning windows and grills — two things that people really hate cleaning.
While not exactly new to CES, the Winbot, a zippy little window-cleaning gizmo from the
domestic bot overlords "intelligent home robot product" specialists at Ecovacs, still proved to be an attention-grabber. It certainly stopped me in my tracks.
Harnessing advanced vacuum sealing technology to help him stick to vertical glass surfaces of any thickness and tiny sensors to help him locate the target filth, this helpful little guy with a $400 price tag — a small price to pay for being able to proudly announce to whoever that you really don’t do windows — sports a belly composed of a squeegee along with dual microfiber pads: a “wet” one for cleaning and a second "dry" one for finishing up the job. The use of Windex and lots of paper towels is not required.
Although the framed pane of glass that the Winbot-in-residence at CES was zigzagging around didn’t appear all that filthy — or dirty at all — the boxy little gizmo was still hard at work, crisscrossing back and forth the glass surface in a steady, methodical fashion. I wondered if it was exhausted, in need of a quick break to have a smoke and commune with the other household service bots giving it their all at CES.
Available at various retailers including SkyMall, Winbot is not wireless but does include a remote control so you can sit back up on the couch and scarf bonbons while also maintaining some element of control. And there is a small bit of human work involved as you have to spray the cleaning pad with a solution before placing Winbot on a surface. If you’re putting Winbot to work above ground-level, you’ll also need to attach it to the included Safety Pod. Otherwise, it can figure out the rest.
Ethan Woods' Grillbot is "an Automatic Grill Cleaning Robot" that doesn't need a whole lot of explanation. It scrubs the gnarly grim, gunk, and hardened grease that clings to well-loved BBQ grills with a replaceable wire brush — available in brass or stainless steel — heads. It's a miracle worker. It's maybe the best Father's Day gift ever. It costs $120.
CES attendees: Any other hardworking bots catch your eye? Everyone else: Would you employ a robotic gizmo to perform dedicated cleaning tasks around the house? Or do you already?
Stay tuned as I share more highlights from CES including the latest in home connectivity from the always-forward thinking Bosch, who was kind enough to host my visit this year.
Photos: Winbot: Matt Hickman; Grillbot via Grillbots.com
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