Innovation

Roomba or Doomba?

It has been a while since I posted.  The project I was on lost funding so I have been spending my days on Monster.com.  But, now I sit and wait as my security clearance is being processed.  It should be done any day now. While I have been home these last 5 months, I have been working around the house, trying to catch up on things that hadn't been getting done.  I got out my lance and tilted at the dust bunnies....okay, so they are still winning, but I think I saw fear in their eyes.

So, this morning, I was looking through some old computer magazines trying to see if ANY of them could finally be thrown away (there are magazines in there from when my husband and I met in 1995) and saw an article about iRobot and the Roomba.  The article was about where the company was going and what other robot types they would put out.  The type of stuff that one of the other wonderful Geekend writers has probably already talked about.  But, I wanted to write something so that Jay wouldn't think I was dead and starting to rot in front of my flat screen.

I went to the roomba website and took a look at their current offering.  Yep, they are cute.  The little video shows roomba zooming around an already immaculate room and then docking to recharge for the next time the room is "dirty".  Gee, if I lived there, I could clean that room in a 5 second window too. 

I think it needs to be put to a real test.  I think it needs to be put in a teenage boy's room.  Will it be able to get past the mounds of old comic books, D&D manuals and magazines?  How about the partially molding food and other unidentifiable possibly food stuff?  How about the sweat socks that retain their shape regardless of the angle at which they are held?  How will the roomba fair in THAT room? 

Okay, my son's room isn't like that.  It is messy, but not that bad.  But it does make me wonder.  Once I start the new job, my mornings will become a battle ground.  This little robot wouldn't be used in a pristine environment.  Sometimes my daughter (7) gets in a rush in the morning and just drops her nightgown and panties on the floor as she rushes to get dressed for school.  I will be downstairs pouring coffee down my throat (Mr. Bean style - first the coffee, then the cream, then the Splenda, then a little gargle to mix it, and a big swallow) while cooking up breakfast.  My husband will be trying to convince the dogs that NOW is the time to do doggie landmines and the backyard IS the place to do them.  We will hardly ever have time to make sure that little girl panties, jammies, and socks aren't on the floor. 

Will the roomba go in her room and suck up her little socks, get them caught in its motor/drive belt/whatever, then crash and burn?  Or will it "see" that there is more than just some debris on the floor and move around the clothes?  What if there are Barbies or worse yet, Barbie's shoes?  How small does the item have to be before it ceases to be an obstacle and becomes something to be sucked up?

I tried to find this in the FAQ, but didn't see it.  I don't really care about the Barbie shoes.  If I could get away with it, I would vacuum them straight out of the package when she gets them, but socks for 7 year olds get expensive if they become one wear items.

Will it have caught the cat by the long hairs on her tail and have dragged her behind it?  Worse yet, what if we get held up at work, and one of our (now very aged) dogs leaves a land mine inside?  Will there be track marks throughout the house everywhere that Rosie (yes, that is what I would name it) has been?  Will our formerly mostly white cat now be mostly....I don't even want to imagine. 

These are questions that *must* be addressed!  Perhaps (and I will credit this to artric, the guy on the roomba forum whose initial questions about doggie landmines  and tag team roombas initiated my article this morning) iRobot needs to consider tag team robots.  The regular roomba goes on its dirt seeking spree.  It finds the doggie landmine.  Realizing that it cannot 'scale the mountain' (I have a large labrador), it marks it with a flag and sends a message back to the Command Center "fire in the hole!". 

The command center send out "scoup-ba".  Scoup-ba (SCV, I mean Scoup-ba good to go, sir!) comes out to the flagged location, lifts the top of the robotic frame, and pops out a pusher piece, that scrapes the "mine" onto the very flat bottom piece of the scoup-ba.  Now, scoup-ba flags the location and sends back a message to the Command Center (Job's finished!). 

The Command Center signals janitor-ba.  Janitor-ba (Identify target) gets information (transmit coordinates) from the Command Center  and permission to proceed (Go, go, go!).  Janitor-ba goes to the flagged location, sprays it with some type of solution (Fire it up) designed to breakdown the 'evidence' (did someone call for an exterminator)using advanced NASA enzymes developed for the space program.  It then sets a timer and waits the necessary 16.27835 minutes.  It then scrubs (I dig) the spot for 3.2856 minutes and adds a second enzyme.  Then it waits another 2.769 minutes so that the second enzyme can play poker with the first enzyme (Alright, bring it on).  Then it scrubs a third time (roger that).  It then shoots some hyper-heated steam (wanna turn up the heat?) into the spot and sucks the water back out into its special reservoir.  It spritzes some Febreeze (TM) on the spot, flags the location for drying, and sends a message to the Command Center (Outstanding) .  The CC then messages the roomba (Proceeding) to revac that spot after 20 minutes of drying (yeah, I'm going).  The janitor-ba then goes to the toilet, dumps its reservoir (oh, is that it), flushes, waits for the tank to refill, rinses its reservoir, flushes again, and then spritzes some Febreeze(TM) (no problem) on itself and returns to the Command Center.

Gee, I hope Kerrigan doesn't infest my Command Center.  My poor old furniture couldn't take the infested terrans blowing up everywhere.

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