In Japan on Thursday, Dyson unveiled its first "robot vacuum": the 360 Eye. Yup, you read that right: a vacuum that also happens to be a robot. Believe it or not, robot vacuums have been around for a while: a small, circular device that vacuums your floor while you put your feet up and watch TV. So it's probably time to toss your friendly old vacuum, because the Eye has some major perks. Namely, being a robot.
Dyson is actually pretty late to the "robot vacuum" game, and the product itself has been met with mixed reviews. A Verge review of the most popular robotic floor vacuum brand — the iRobot Roomba — claimed in early 2014 that it can't truly replace a standup vacuum, but can prolong the time period between vacuuming. Other robot vacuums have been riddled with complaints about poor suction, plus not enough battery charge to actually . . . clean.
The advantages? Vacuum robots are able to sense big dirt pile and stairwells, return to its charging station when it has low batteries, and signal when the dirt bin is full. Disadvantages? Very, very expensive. The latest iRobot Roomba, for perspective, goes for a cool $700. Also, it's a robot that lives in your house, so if you've watched any robot sci-fi movie ever, you might want to give it a miss.
Dyson announced the product in Tokyo on Thursday, and followed up by uploading a ton of videos, images and product specifications to their website. Some highlights:
1. It's been in development for 16 years
Despite the release of the iRobot Roomba all the way back in 2002, Dyson took its time doing research and development for the 360 Eye.
2. $47 million went into it
They also spent quite a lot of money to conduct that research – nearly $47 million. Yikes.
3. You can schedule sessions remotely
The robot is Wi-Fi enabled and comes with its own iPhone app, which is how you can schedule the 360 Eye's cleaning schedule remotely.
4. It can see . . .
Yes it sounds a little robots-taking-over-the-world-esque, but the 360 Eye does actually have a 360 camera that takes 30 pictures PER SECOND.
5. . . . and plan
Then the 360 Eye uses those pictures to map out the room — and the mess — and plans its cleaning accordingly. It's all starting to sound a bit I, Robot to us.
6. The tiniest of particles will get sucked up
The 360 Eye can apparently suck up dust particles that are as small as 0.5 microns. I don't even know how small that is.
7. There's no need to clean up after it
The 360 Eye is meant to replace a stand-up vacuum cleaner, so Dyson has made it so there's no need for sweeping up after it. It includes brush bars that allow the machine to cover its own corners.
8. You don't have to get down on the floor to mess with the settings
On top of controlling cleaning schedules from your smartphone, you can also control the settings of the actual device. Basically, no need to get on your hands and knees and mess with tiny buttons.
Well, I'm sold so far. Of course, this is the first we're is hearing about the new product, and there's also one last big question mark: the price. No figure has been announced yet, so that could be a major negative.
The 360 Eye goes on sale in Japan in spring 2015, and worldwide later that year.