Giacomo Marini isn’t afraid of the robot future – in fact, the company he leads is betting on it. Neato Robotics was founded by Standford alums Joe Augenbraun, Linda Pouliot and JB Gomez through the Stanford Entrepreneur Challenge and officially launched in 2010. The idea behind the company – that robots are just as capable of performing chores as humans – Neato has been working to develop advanced robotic technology for for vaccums in order to alleviate the stress and drain of modern life.
Neato has enjoyed success as a startup against rivals like Roomba and they have a heavy focus on intelligence and proprietary technology to create a self-cleaning vacuum with the smarts of a self-driving car. In fact, the company is the first and only group making robot vacuums with laser SLAM technology, best known for its use in the Google self-driving car, to map and navigate. Marini claims this technology is uniquely suited for indoor navigation and allows the robots to operate with precision in the dark.
Robotics and machine learning are two hot areas in Silicon Valley at the moment – and Marini is no stranger to success in the tech mecca. A co-founder of Logitech, Marini was part of the team that moved the Swiss-based company to Palo Alto in the early 1980s and credits much of the computer accessory company’s growth to that move. Marini went on to stay in Silicon Valley and run a venture capital firm and eventually join Neato as CEO in 2013.
Neato sees their vacuums playing an important role in making the clean up after meal prep and dinner much simpler. “Gone are the days when spilling flower on the floor while you cook would mean hauling out the heavy upright vacuum,” adds Marini. “Now you can simply use your voice to tell your Google Home or Amazon Alexa to start your Neato for you.” Neato recently added chatbot functionality for Facebook, jumping on another trend of using chatbots to control our homes – meaning you could shoot your vacuum a note to clean up the kitchen after dinner’s over from the backyard.
Marini believes that the continued focus on user experience has been an essential component in the increase in connected device adoption. And – he points out – as the complexity of what our devices can do increases – that experience must remain the same. “As the capabilities of this technology become more complex, it’s imperative that the devices remain simple to interact with, so that our relationship with them feels natural and compelling.”
Ultimately, Neato Robotics wants to make products to give people more time. If we have tech to help us shop more efficiently and cook good food at home more simply, we should also be able to use tech to clean up, right? Marini agrees, saying “We’re at a pivotal point when the speed of emerging technologies make the human potential seem limitless. Our mission is to allow people to spend more their spare time on things that really matter – their passions, work, loved ones – and not on housework.”
The Smart Kitchen Summit is the first event to tackle the future of food, cooking and the kitchen with leaders across food, tech, commerce, design, delivery and appliances. This series will highlight panelists and partners for the 2017 event, being held on October 10-11 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.