If you’ve watched TV this holiday season, you’ve seen the commercials: “If it’s not from iRobot, it’s not a Roomba.” Since the rise of the robotic vacuum cleaner, the term “roomba” has become a sort of proprietary eponym, with the term coming into general usage to describe all domestic robots. iRobot’s latest ad slate tries to combat that misappropriation of language.
It also has the effect of calling attention to the fact that there are other brands of robotic vacuums on the market. And while they can’t legally be called roombas, they promise to perform the same function at a fraction of the price. One such model is the eufy RoboVac 30C Max. WKP’s very own Brian Danza has done an unboxing and video review, which can be seen on our YouTube channel:
For those of you unfamiliar with eufy, it is the home brand of Anker, the international leader in charging technology. Charging is an important aspect of a successful robotic vacuum, so it makes sense that they would diversify their offerings in this way.
As you can see in Brian’s video, the eufy does an impressive job of keeping wood floors nice and clean. You can control the RoboVac 30C either with an app on your smartphone or with an Alexa (or both). With either of these technologies, you can also set the machine up to vacuum at a specific time each day. After it’s done cleaning, it will return to its dock and recharge for its next scheduled performance. It is worth noting that if the dock gets bumped or moved, the device will have difficulty making its way home. For this reason, it is a good idea to bolt or otherwise attach the dock to your wall/floor.
After a month of use, there is no question that the eufy RoboVac 30C delivers on its promise. If you haven’t yet gotten in on the robotic vacuum trend (and if you don’t care that your roomba is not technically a “Roomba”), then this is a good buy.
You Can Now Watch Both HBO Max & Quibi On Roku
Our long national nightmare is over. When HBO Max launched last June, I liked its offerings but was disappointed that there was practically no way to watch it. Although Christopher Nolan called it “the worst streaming service,” it actually has some good content, but since it was not accessibly from any streaming device, viewers were stuck either watching it on their laptops or else purchasing an upgraded Samsung Smart TV. My family ended up doing the latter, and we have no complaints at all with our new 55″ screen. But considering we own a plethora of Amazon Fire and Roku devices, it would have been nice to actually use them to watch the shows we are paying for.
What took so long? With Amazon, the answer is obvious. Amazon competes with HBO via its own streaming service, Amazon Prime, and so it was always going to be a tough negotiation. But Roku? Isn’t one of the pluses of Roku that it is platform-neutral?
Now we know the answer. Roku announced today that it had acquired the library of Quibi, an erstwhile streaming service that went bankrupt not too long ago. Roku will play those Quibi shows on its devices for free. In other words, Roku is getting into the content business.
Considering reports that sales of their devices have outpaced others on the market during the pandemic, this is big news for the entertainment industry, and it may make negotiations between the various players all the more hostile in the future. For the time being, let us rejoice and be glad that we can finally watch HBO Max in peace. We will deal with the fallout later.
The Lululemon Mirror Is The Latest In Dystopian Tech
Right before the New Year, we ran an article taking a look at some of the fitness options for keeping in shape in the midst of a pandemic. One option we did not touch on is the Lululemon Mirror, mostly because I did not believe it was a real thing. Like everyone else, I’ve seen the many ads touting this Bradburyesque contraption over the last couple months. But I figured it was a parody. There’s no way the brand known for their overpriced yoga pants aspires to hang a giant two-way looking glass on people’s wall, right? Wrong. The Mirror exists, and it is a sign of the times.
For those unfamiliar with the Mirror, it literally a $1,500 mirror, which in addition to filming your movements also displays workout videos so you don’t have to go to a gym. Is there a market for this? There must be, considering Lululemon bought the start-up responsible for the device for $500 million.
Such is life during COVID. People are so tired of being trapped in their houses, they are now turning to life-size screens to simulate interpersonal interaction. This also shows how the pandemic has changed our relationship with privacy; now that we are on Zoom every day, performing workouts in front of a camera does not seem like that big of a deal. (For those folks who do still value privacy, Lululemon insists that turning on the camera is merely “an option.”)
The Lululemon Mirror is just the latest example of wellness technology designed to capture any and all information about its users. Pretty much all of your important health data is tracked by your Apple Watch, and that isn’t even counting the enhancements of Apple Fitness+.
If people are willing to bare their souls to a miniature robot, who am I to tell them off? But as more and more data is accumulated through these various channels, it’s hard not to think that they will be used in some way to manipulate human behavior. Maybe this is a good thing, leading to a healthier populace. Let’s hope that’s the case. Because if the data falls into the wrong hands, there is little doubt that it could be used to nefarious ends.
What Will The Apple Car Look Like?
Just when you thought Apple had devoted all of its R&D capabilities to coming up with $550 headphones, a report comes out indicating that innovation may not be dead. According to Reuters, Apple still plans on making an Apple Car. That’s right, an actual physical car. After focusing on software for years, Apple’s muckety-mucks presumably decided they were due for another winner.
So what will the Apple Car look like? TBD. Will it be self-driving? Unclear. There is still so much up in the air right now, and it is not altogether clear that Apple itself has the answers. With this month’s news that Uber was abandoning its own self-driving car ambitions, the future of that technology seemed in doubt. But since Google’s spinoff Waymo is progressing apace, Apple did not want to be left in the dust.
The Reuters report has precious little details about the Apple Car, with the most interesting tidbit being that the company plans to produce these cars by 2024. That timeline seems both ambitious, considering no one knew they were even still working on them, as well as rather far off into the future. If you think back to four years ago, people thought that we’d have whole fleets of self-driving taxis by now.
Reuters indicates that Apple is likely to rely on a current manufacturing partner to actually produce these cars, which you’d think would have some implication on the ultimate design. Buckle up, because we could be in for one of these power adapter blocks on wheels:
Of course, you’d hope they’d be somewhat sleeker than that. The new iPad Pro might be a better target:
Supposedly, Apple Cars will be using a “monocell” battery, allowing them to beat the market’s other electric vehicles on price. I’ll believe it when I see it. If we have learned anything from Apple over the past decade-plus, it is that they will release an overly expensive product, scads of people will kvetch about the price only to end up buying it. Apple has a fix on our culture that way. I should know: I am currently typing this on a Macbook Pro, while I have Airpod Pros in my ears and both an iPhone XR and an old iPad on my desk. Who knows, maybe I will even get an Apple Car one day.
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