We love taking new products for test drives in the New York Dwell office. Our latest experiment involved Dyson's new robo-vacuum, called the 360 Eye.
When the Roomba debuted in the early 2000s, it was a revelation: Finally, robots were going to clean up after us, just like the Jetsons promised. But as is the case with early artifacts of technology, the disc-shaped Roomba was easily flummoxed—especially by corners and carpeting.
Fast-forward through many iterations, and enter James Dyson, the engineering mastermind responsible for the biggest cultural shift in mass-market vacuum appreciation since Jim Kirby. In July of this year (Americans had to wait, as the piece was unsurprisingly introduced to the Japanese market first), Dyson released their version of the robo-vacuum, called the 360 Eye. Retailing for nearly $1,000, it has the requisite sticker shock for which the company is known.
We couldn't wait to get our hands on one, so we could examine first-hand all the bells and whistles that would rationalize such a price. There are certainly vaunted attributes: 360-degree mounted camera, two sets of bristles to tackle both carpet fiber and wood, and a 45-minute battery-charged lifecycle. Always intriguing is the ability for remote control via an app, meaning you can not only play human overlord from the couch while the robot toils away, you can actually practice the art of chore-laziness from anywhere you like.
For about a week we threw a shower of debris at the little guy, waiting for it to trip up and leave a tell-tale path of forgotten peanut shells and confetti in its wake. Surprisingly, the 360 Eye stood up to the trial, efficiently (and quietly!) sweeping all manner of detritus into its chamber, courtesy of the centralized brushroll that runs the width of the device.
In the end, we were impressed, though we still have a hard time with such a steep price tag for a small appliance that sucks up crumbs as its major vocation. Here's to hoping that the exemplary minds at Dyson HQ can work out some cost efficiencies in production, and point the way to a future where a tricked-out house with a fleet of robotic cleaning crews could truly become a machine for living—and within affordable grasp.