Roomba, Economics and Long-Exposure Photography

Hi Reddit! – DigitalOSH

Earlier this weekend I picked up a Roomba, as my old vacuum cleaner bit the dust(ha!) after an altercation with a shoelace. Like any good geek, I immediately went online to see what kind of modifications I could make to this little beast. What I ended up finding out was that iRobot, the company that makes the Roomba, actually promotes and encourages hacking the devices, even offering the tools to do so. This made me wonder about the business sense behind it, and, in my eyes, it’s quite good. This is all I’ve been able to think of so far, please add if you think of anything else.

Pros:

  • -Consumers end up designing functional modifications, which can be used in later versions of the device
  • -Hacking voids your warranty, thereby reducing warranty claims
  • -Revenue from sales of hacking tools/interfaces
  • -Active community promotes the product

Cons:

  • -Brand diluted by other items under Roomba name
  • -Brand may get an image of being complicated

I’m sure I’m missing some obvious ones here, please comment. Now here’s something interesting:

Now here’s something interesting, I set up a photo camera in my room, turned out all the lights and took a long-exposure shot of my roomba doing it’s thing for about 30 minutes. The result is a picture that shows the path of the roomba through it’s cleaning cycle, it looks like a flight map or something. It really hits every spot!

I’m such a yuppie. It hurts me.
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  1. That Is Freakin Awesome! :D I wish I could get a Roomba, but my kids would destroy it the first time they saw it…

    • paulchavady
    • 05/08. 2009 7:36pm

    Seriously, roombas are the wave of the future!

    • Colm
    • 05/09. 2009 1:23am

    dugg! love the cartoon and the pic – have to get one these :D

  2. Brilliant!
    very clever idea and beautiful image – would love to see it done directly from above…

  3. That’s an awesome picture.. how long was the exposure?

    • paulchavady
    • 05/09. 2009 3:05pm

    The exposure was 30 minutes

    • Luke
    • 05/09. 2009 5:13pm

    Awesome Shot!! What camera, apature, ISO did you use?

    • Michiel
    • 05/09. 2009 5:34pm

    I’ve had the Roomba 560 for about a year or so I guess?

    It still works well. I don’t know about hacking it, there are some projects on the web and I’ve built a BT serial dongle but really, what are you going to do with it? Play some tunes, send some custom commands, grab some stats, that is about it. The thing cleans floors. It does it better than I would care to. I chuck it in a room when I leave for work, the scheduler starts it up at 11:00, I get back from work, empty the bin when needed, and then put it in the living room and press the dock button.

    In my next house I will probably get a little roomba elevator, and THEN I will use the hacking to make my house AI send the roomba to the appropriate room at the right time ;)

    Also, remember, if you have bought a recent model you are looking at a fifth-generation (or so) product. That is a lot of engineering time and customer feedback, right there.

    Anyhow, there are some roomba hacks on youtube and the other usual suspects, but so far I haven’t seen anything that actually adds something useful to the Roomba. It does what it does, and it does it fairly well.

    The pathfinding algorithms are fun, nice shot!

    • Scott
    • 05/09. 2009 6:57pm

    Ok. Now someone write a hack for the Roomba so you can use long exposure photography and get the Roomba to draw cartoons, the Mona Lisa, secret messages. Why? Why not?

    • zim2411
    • 05/09. 2009 7:12pm

    Oh hey there,

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zim2411/3258842901/

    How nice of you to make Slashdot

    • Xavier
    • 05/09. 2009 9:15pm
  4. You are maybe already aware, but your comment list really spazzes out on both Firefox 3 and IE7 – it’s a nasty mess of overlapping comments, and, in particular, trackbacks.

    • spanky
    • 05/10. 2009 1:53pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zim2411/3258842901/

    Same thing done a few months ago.

    • Joe
    • 05/12. 2009 6:07am

    Wow the layout here is totally borked. Can’t read a thing. You do that on purpose?

    • paulchavady
    • 05/12. 2009 8:15pm

    Comments layout fixed!

  5. Brilliant, and lovely. It makes me think of my Roomba in a whole new light. Thanks for this.

    • Tyler
    • 05/19. 2009 5:53pm

    Looks like you have a spam problem in ur comments :)

  6. I think you have a little bit of SPAM :-)

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