In industry, robots are quite often sold as a service. That is, instead of buying a robot and operating it yourself, you instead rent a service that the robot provides. This service includes the rental of the robot itself, but also includes things like installation, maintenance, repairs, technical support, software updates, and all those useful things that you would otherwise have to worry about separately. This is a good model for companies that want a robot to do useful things for them without the agony of becoming a small robotics company.
Typically, this robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model isn’t something we see with robots in the home – the closest we get is some sort of additional subscription to certain features. But a startup called Matician has taken that idea to home floor cleaning robots by launching Matic, a combo cleaning and mopping robot that can be yours for $125 a month.
Like some of the other robot vacuums we might mention, the Matic uses vision to map your home and move around looking for clutter, but it also creates an interesting 3D map and provides a live visualization of where the robot is. this card. I’m not sure how necessary this is in everyday use, but it’s pretty cool. The cameras also mean that the Matic does a good job of both detecting clutter that needs to be cleaned up and not bumping into anything important when it cleans up those clutters.
A small water tank allows the Matic to mop or vacuum at will, and all waste (wet and dry) ends up in a removable bag inside the robot. The bag is pre-filled with an absorbent polymer so that anything wet that gets into the bag gels rather than making things rougher than they would otherwise be. Matic can autonomously roam your home looking for clutter, or respond to voice commands and (smart) gestures for targeted, on-demand cleaning.
One of the unique things about Matic is that almost everything is done on the robot. This includes mapping and image recognition, which means that neither video nor sound will ever leave your home. In fact, you don’t even need to connect the robot to the Internet unless you intend to control it remotely – the app runs locally, via your WiFi.
If that’s what interests you, you’ll probably want to do the math before doing anything, because you can’t buy a robot right away, it’s only a subscription. $125 a month is $1,500 a year—that’s $600 more than the most expensive Roomba, which, once you buy it, is yours forever. That doesn’t mean the Roomba is a better vacuum cleaner than the Matic, and we don’t know how much the Matic actually costs to produce: one advantage of the service model is that it can be used to service much more expensive models. Hardware. But of course, no matter how expensive the hardware is or how many consumables are included, a service model will almost certainly cost you more over time.
However, these additional costs are not just throwing money into the void. Here is how Matizian justifies it:
Matic is designed as a service to keep your floors always clean. Membership in this service guarantees:
- You always have the best.
- As we create and release new versions of the Matic hardware, we will update yours at no additional cost. As a member, you will always have the latest and greatest hardware available.
- We will frequently update the Matic software with new features and functionality. Cleaning becomes even easier over time.
- Free repair and maintenance included, no questions asked.
- You are in control.
- If Matic is not providing you with consistent value, you can cancel and return the Robot for a refund of unused months.
- If you have feedback or suggestions for new features or functionality, we will do our best to implement them.
- You don’t need to think about it.
- Matic consumables are refilled automatically and are included in the scope of delivery. We will send you new HEPA bags, brushes and mops as they are used. You always have what you need, but you don’t have to worry about tracking stock or placing frequent orders.
- We can keep improving Matic.
- Your membership ensures that we never stop improving this product and delivering new value to you. Our goal is for you to love Matic more and more every month.
From this I feel that the first point is probably the most important, but it depends entirely on how Matician works in the future. If the company does update the hardware and software a couple of times a year or something, and keeps sending you new and better robots for free, then the service model might be something you’ll love. And if worrying about maintaining a robot, fixing it, or ordering supplies for a robot causes you stress, then it might be worth paying a little extra for that peace of mind.
The first version of the Matic will go on sale in early fall 2023, but you can reserve it now with a fully refundable $125 deposit.