Robotic air purifier doubles as wireless controller

Robotic air purifier doubles as wireless controller

What iRobot did for robotic vacuums with its Roomba, Ecovacs hopes to do for air purifiers—with some Wi-Fi home security added in for good measure. The Famibot and its little sidekick, the Famibot Jr., are on display at the 2014 International CES.

Portable air purifiers either have wheels or are lightweight enough for easy toting. But either way, you’re doing the moving. Like a robotic vacuum, which has intelligence to map out rooms and service its area, the Famibot goes from room to room cleaning particulates from the air with its built-in, washable HEPA-class filter.

That’s not all it does. The Famibot also serves as a controller for a handful of wireless devices included in the unit’s $ 1,500 to $ 1,600 price. The set currently includes a smoke sensor, a smart socket that lets you monitor and control one AC-powered fixture or appliance, and an infrared motion sensor that uses an Android or iPhone app. The Famibot Jr., $ 900, offers the home security features but not the air purifying.

The company says it’s still tweaking the included devices. The smoke sensor, in time, will grow in sensitivity to become a more full-fledged smoke detector. A carbon-monoxide detector is in the works, and Ecovacs wants to introduce thresholds to the motion detector so that, for instance, you won’t get an alert every time your pet passes near the device.

We’ll be reporting on other connected-home products we’ve been seeing at CES. But if you need an air purifier and only want to spend a fraction of what the Famibot costs, check out our air purifier buying guide before viewing our air purifier Ratings.

—Ed Perratore

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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