The commercial success of the Roomba has revolutionized the way the world vacuums. CEO Colin Angle co-founded iRobot, the company that manufactures the Roomba, in 1990 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has served as a director since 1992.
In 2002, iRobot released its first model of the Roomba. In a recent interview, Angle said that he’d never imagined the product’s immense commercial success. Since then, the company has developed the Braava, a mopping robot; the Mirra, for pool cleaning; and the Looj, for gutter cleaning.
iRobot has become a global brand, bringing self-operating vacuums, mops, and outdoor cleaning equipment to millions of households worldwide. However, Angle wants to emphasize that iRobot is not just a vacuum cleaner company, nor is it just a cleaning company in general. With a large aging population, the company wants to create products that make all household maintenance and tasks more manageable.
“What iRobot is going to be most appreciated for is not going to be vacuums,” said Angle. “It’s going to be allowing people to live independently longer so that we can maintain our standard of living as a society.”
One of iRobot’s most recent projects is a product that will aid in mowing the lawn. Among Americans who have yards, 90% of them believe that lawn care is important.
The U.S. population of senior citizens is growing rapidly, and with old age comes a decline in mobility. Not all of these individuals receive geriatric care or even have family members to come help them.
Common mobility problems among the elderly include fibromyalgia, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, as well as decreased bone density and overall weakness. These issues make simple tasks like lawn care and lawn mowing, cleaning, and heavy lifting difficult, if not impossible. Many elderly individuals have lost their ability to walk entirely.
By creating self-operating devices, iRobot aims to help its older consumers maintain their level of independence in the home (and in the yard) and potentially function as the building blocks for larger robo-mechanical developments in the future.
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