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Neato Introduces New Robot Vacuums, Adds Zone Cleaning to D7

Persistent maps enable another useful feature for Neato's flagship Botvac D7

2 min read
Neato Introduces New Robot Vacuums, Adds Zone Cleaning to D7
Photo: Neato

At IFA in Berlin this week, Neato Robotics is, as we speak, making a bunch of announcements that promise to make the lives of people who like clean floors just a little bit better. In addition to a pair of new(ish) and more affordable(ish) Botvac models, Neato's ultrafancy D7 Connected is getting a new feature that allows it to clean specific zones that you specify, meaning that "Robot, go clean the kitchen" is now something that works.

Neato D4

We've comprehensively reviewed the technology underlying Neato's Botvac Connected series, and the new models that Neato is introducing offer a more affordable way to take advantage of Neato's laser-based mapping tech. The Botvac D4 Connected is US $500, and for $700, the D6 Connected adds a side brush, turbo mode, and a more filter-y air filter for people with pets that are going bald. Honestly, most people will probably be perfectly fine with the D4, especially since Neato is updating these lower end models with most of the same clever software (including, so far, no-go lines and plans for multiple floors) that first appears on the D7.

Usually, the new hardware is the exciting thing, but not today! Barely a month ago, Neato introduced the first D7 software update based on persistent maps: custom no-go lines that you can draw on a map of your place that tell the robot where not to go. Neato is now announcing the inverse of that: "Zone Cleaning," where you can tell the robot to clean only specific areas:

Neato

Today, Botvac D7 Connected is also evolving, with the introduction of Zone Cleaning. With Zone Cleaning, you can now target those trouble areas in your home more frequently. Make a zone for the dinner table, and take care of all those crumbs that fall to the floor. You can create your zones on the Neato app, with a few swipes. Then select that zone when you want it cleaned, giving more freedom and control over how you clean your home. The Neato Zone Cleaning feature will be available this Fall for new and existing Botvac D7 Connected owners.

It's nice of Neato to keep on introducing these useful features for free, and extra nice of them to gradually trickle those features down to its other vacuums—if you have an older Botvac D3 or D5 Connected, you'll get a software update this fall as well. As we've said before, it's features like these that are going to make home mapping worth paying a premium for when it comes to robot vacuums, and this is just the start of what's possible.

The Neato Botvac D4 and D6 are available online as of today, and you'll start seeing them in stores next month. 

[ Neato Robotics ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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