Robots overrun the home at housewares show


The Grillbot.

The Looj gutter cleaner from iRobot.

The Winbot. Click the photo to go to a Yahoo! News product test.

Robots are taking over. Need proof? Robots were everywhere at the 2013 International Home and Housewares Show, which just ended yesterday in Chicago.

There was the Grillbot, a robot that removes grease and grime from your grill – without supervision. iRobot showcased the Looj, a gutter-cleaning robot you can control with a detachable remote. There were robots on display that clean pools, floors and everything in between.

But perhaps the most innovative was Ecovacs Robotics’ Winbot, the show's Innovation Award winner in its category. The gadget debuted at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

“Winbot is the world’s first window cleaning robot,” said Nick Savadian, executive general manager of Ecovacs Robotics. “Winbot does windows, any size and thickness, and I’m very pleased to say it makes windows sparking clean.”

Watching the Winbot in action was one of the highlights of this year’s International Home and Housewares Show. Simply add the cleaning pad to the bottom of the robot, mist with cleaning solution, then let the Winbot work its magic.

The Winbot first measures the window, then cleans the surface by moving in a zigzag pattern that covers every inch of the window. Suction keeps the Winbot from falling to the floor, and a safety pod keeps it on the window should it lose suction mid-clean. Once it’s done cleaning, the Winbot alerts you and returns to its original position. It’s then ready to be moved to the next window.

And that’s the downside. As cool as this robot is, it still needs a little bit of human oversight. It can’t navigate from window to window, and therefore needs a bit of your help to clean a house full of windows.

That said, it’s easy to see how the Winbot could simplify your life. It can clean the windows while you vacuum or dust – or relax – and can tackle tough outside grime while you enjoy in the indoors. The squeegee system means there are no streaks or residue left on the window when it’s done cleaning, and a remote control allows you to control the robot from a distance.

If you have tons of windows in your home, the Winbot is a fun and innovative way to keep them clean. It’s set to hit the market in the spring, and will retail somewhere between $299 and $399. It costs more than a helpful spouse or child, but there’s an upside: you won’t have to nag it to get the job done.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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