Long-exposure of a Roomba’s path

My friend Noah links to this awesome long-exposure shot of a Roomba’s path.

This illustrates nicely the design insight that made the Roomba successful. Electrolux has a competing robotic vacuum, the Trilobite. It has a sophisticated on-board computer to optimize its path through a room. And yet, at close to $2000, its more of a design demo than a viable commercial product.

iRobot on the other hand (the makers of the Roomba) realized that it wasn’t a big deal if the robot was inefficient. They made a “dumb” robot, that worked its way haphazardly around the room. And by doing so, they got the price down to a couple of hundred dollars.

Guess who was more successful? The Trilobite might be a better vacuum, but the Roomba offers better value. Which reminds me; I need to use my Roomba for more than party entertainment (sadly, I haven’t been too impressed by its performance…).