Monday, August 13, 2012

No. 587: Two Japanese cleaning robots compete with Roomba (August 13, 2012)

The domestic cleaning robot market is growing very fast, and is estimated to increase from 200,000 units in 2010 to 1,000,000 units in 2020. Roomba from the U.S. is dominant, but two Japanese cleaning robots are chasing Roomba. One is Cocorobo from Sharp and the other is Smarbo from Toshiba Home Appliance. The former cleans a room while dancing if instructed and understands several foreign languages as if it has mind (cocoro). The latter cleans a room twice. In the second cleaning, it cleans a room at a right angle to the angle of the first cleaning for complete clean up.

According to the Japan Electric Manufacturers’ Association (JEMA), a cleaner is used for six minutes per day on average, meaning that it is used for 10 hours a year should it be used for 100 days a year. As is often the case, Japanese makers were too much absorbed in reducing noise and increasing suction to build even better models and one step behind Roomba in marketing without working out new concepts. In the cleaning robot market, it has become critical to offer models with functions required by users and put them on the market at competitive prices. The race to put additional functions and values to a cleaning robot is heating up.

Sharp’s cleaning robot Cocorobo

Toshiba’s cleaning robot Smarbo

A Smarbo vs. a cat

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