US vac­uum maker to boost R&D in China

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By FAN FEIFEI fan­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

US-based iRobot Corp, known pri­mar­ily for its Roomba ro­bot vac­uum clean­ers, plans to in­vest more in re­search and devel­op­ment in China, as it hopes to grow the mar­ket.

“iRobot is fo­cused on sig­nif­i­cant growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in China. We are con­tin­u­ing to in­crease the size of man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in China, as well as engi­neer­ing func­tions. China is an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant part of iRobot’s strat­egy and we will con­tinue to grow,” said Colin An­gle, chair­man and CEO of iRobot, in an ear­lier in­ter­view with China Daily.

The com­pany launched a floor mop­per tai­lor-made for the Chi­nese mar­ket in 2016, and es­tab­lished a com­mer­cial team at its Shang­hai of­fice to di­rectly man­age sales, mar­ket­ing and af­ter-sales ser­vices, to be more re­spon­sive to the lo­cal mar­ket, An­gle said.

Chris­tian Cerda, iRobot’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, said that China is the com­pany’s fastest-grow­ing mar­ket and fourth-largest re­gion, adding the coun­try has tremen­dous tal­ent and in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port the in­dus­try.

The com­pany cre­ated the home ro­bot clean­ing cat­e­gory with the in­tro­duc­tion of its Roomba model in 2002. It has sold more than 20 mil­lion ro­bots world­wide with its prod­uct line, cov­er­ing the Roomba and Braava fam­i­lies of mop­ping ro­bots, fea­tur­ing pro­pri­etary tech­nolo­gies and ad­vanced con­cepts in clean­ing, map­ping and nav­i­ga­tion.

In Oc­to­ber, iRobot an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with tech gi­ant Google LLC to in­te­grate ro­botic and smart home tech­nolo­gies that will ad­vance the next-gen­er­a­tion smart home.

The part­ners will seek ad­di­tional ways to in­te­grate their plat­forms, pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with the choice to opt in to new in­no­va­tive smart home ex­pe­ri­ences that lever­age a broader un­der­stand­ing of the home’s space.

“iRobot is de­liv­er­ing prod­ucts that help peo­ple keep a cleaner and smarter home,” said An­gle. “Ro­bots with map­ping and spa­tial aware­ness ca­pa­bil­i­ties will play an im­por­tant role in al­low­ing other smart de­vices in the home to more seam­lessly work to­gether. We’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Google to ex­plore new ways to en­able a more thought­ful home.”

Mean­while, Chi­nese tech be­he­moth Xiaomi Corp has stepped up ef­forts to march into the smart home mar­ket. Prod­ucts un­der its sub-brand Mi Ecosys­tem in­clude air pu­ri­fiers, clean­ing ro­bots, rice cook­ers, smart lamps, air con­di­tion­ers and cam­eras. Th­ese prod­ucts are in­ter­net-con­nected and Wi-Fi-en­abled, and can be con­trolled via the Mi Home app.

Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi, said the com­pany aims to “pro­mote the up­grade of Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing with the new con­cept of Made in China prod­ucts.”

“The smart home in­dus­try is now de­vel­op­ing by leaps and bounds, thanks to the ad­vance­ment of the in­ter­net of things, big data and other tech­nolo­gies,” said Zhang Yan­bin, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Bei­jing-based con­sul­tancy All View Cloud.

“With peo­ple’s in­creas­ing re­quire­ment for a high-qual­ity life, the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence en­abled smart home sec­tor has a promis­ing fu­ture.”

The smart home in­dus­try is now de­vel­op­ing by leaps and bounds, thanks to the ad­vance­ment of the in­ter­net of things, big data and other tech­nolo­gies. With peo­ple’s in­creas­ing re­quire­ment for a high-qual­ity life, the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence en­abled smart home sec­tor has a promis­ing fu­ture.” Zhang Yan­bin, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Bei­jing-based con­sul­tancy All View Cloud

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A ro­bot vac­uum cleaner de­vel­oped by US com­pany iRobot Corp. The com­pany launched an au­to­mated floor mop tai­lor-made for the Chi­nese mar­ket in 2016.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped large-scale floor mop­ping ro­bot is on dis­play at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai.

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