Small, round and quiet, Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner from I Robot, didn’t look, sound, or operate like any other vacuum cleaner. Roomba was seen as an expensive gift rather than a product they’d buy for themselves. After all, how could something that didn’t look like a vacuum cleaner actually work? Sales soon stalled.
The question was not “How do we prove that the Roomba works?” but instead “What unique role can the Roomba play?” So we went about finding a use for Roomba that would overcome misperceptions of ineffectiveness. We hypothesized that iRobot could solve the problem of the dirt that slowly appears in between major cleanings: Roomba helps maintain your home between major cleanings.