Building exceptional deep-cleaning vacuums is what BISSEL does. By embracing AI, the company is now developing intelligent, robotic-vacuum technology that is worthy of its storied name, and helping to propel it forward.
BISSELL has been breaking new ground – and helping keep it clean – for more than 140 years. However, one area where the company hadn’t achieved a breakthrough yet was in the robotic vacuum market. With a product vision and design already in place, they believed it could bring its strong reputation for deep cleaning power to an AI-powered, hands-free vacuum. For the company’s project team, the challenge wasn’t in designing a powerful and user-friendly robotic vacuum. It was in embedding intelligence required to make it a BISSELL.
BISSELL turned to Twisthink to bring the necessary intelligence to its newest vacuum design. With our deep connectivity expertise, we were able to collaborate with their team to understand the desired user experience it wanted from its robot that would move its vacuum technology and its intentional product design forward.
We enabled BISSELL to achieve its digital transformation goal by embedding artificial intelligence (AI), connectivity and controls capabilities into the robot, creating a true end-to-end IoT system. The AI algorithms were crucial in driving accurate performance and providing prompts for the digital user interface that enhance in-home and remote experiences.
Building an intuitive user interface
An intuitive menu of options was designed for the LED status display on the robot to align with user behaviors. This rich, on-robot UI was a differentiator for BISSELL, giving product users higher confidence in the robot’s intelligence and performance.
We built a flexible system that supports the display of six pre-loaded languages. Users receive scrolling messaging prompts for manual start up and can also monitor the status of the robot at-a-glance while it’s in action. The user interface also indicates if the air pathway is blocked and displays the status of the battery charge.
Programming & Activating DigitalVision™ Navigation Software
Effectively vacuuming floor space and ensuring a thorough cleaning is rooted in an intelligent navigation algorithm. DIGITALVISIONTM is the software we created that uses infrared optics to automatically scan the landscape and determine the most efficient way to navigate the user’s space and maximize cleaning. By building an end-to-end simulation environment, the AI-based algorithm was tested in hundreds of room configurations to rapidly improve the algorithm. When activated, the robot scans the room and selects among cornrowing, wall-following, corner-cleaning, or a randomized function to determine the most effective solution. Spot mode performs deeper cleaning in specified areas, and the robot also able to identify steps and drop-offs with its smart cliff detection to keep the robot safe. When cleaning is complete, the robot leverages the same infrared optics to return to its docking station for recharging, so it is ready for the next cleaning.
Connectivity that Adds Value
We planned and built a secure robot-to-cloud connectivity system that allows users to experience many additional cloud-based features. Through the app users can easily schedule cleanings, remotely activate their vacuum, and receive status updates via their mobile devices.
In addition, our Over-The-Air (OTA) programming capabilities allow their company’s engineering team to reprogram robots already deployed in the field, automatically giving owners access to new performance updates and features, such as adding new languages to the user interface. This maximizes performance and product longevity while also enhancing the user experience.
Finally, the connectivity system provides BISSELL’s customer service team with all the data and connection information to help answer user questions and address issues quickly and remotely.
Applying an End-to-End Approach to Intelligent Robotics
While the UI, smart navigation, and connectivity are the more visible attributes of the robot’s functions, numerous lower-level technologies are also being controlled by our software to create a robust robot cleaning experience. From controlling motors, managing memory banks, monitoring power consumption and charging, and ensuring all inter-device communications, our team of software engineers considered and connected all of the requirements necessary for a successful robotics initiative.
“TWISTHINK WAS ABLE TO TAKE FUZZY INPUTS AND WORK WITH US COLLABORATIVELY TO MAKE SENSE OF THEM. BECAUSE WE COMMITTED TO A LEARN-AS-WE-GO APPROACH, WE’VE GAINED NEW TECH COMPETENCIES THAT HAVE ENHANCED OUR CORE TEAM, PREPARING US BETTER FOR THE FUTURE.”
-Matt Ebrom, Director of Electronic Systems Engineering, BISSELL
Ready to Roll
With an intelligent robot vacuum equipped with our intelligent algorithms and WiFi connectivity capabilities, BISSELL has its digital and robotics breakthrough. This new technology combined with BISSSELL’s internally developed, D-shaped housing design for vacuuming in corners, and the powerful suction of an upright vacuum in a robot – has the ICONpet™ well-positioned to compete in the robotic vacuum market.
While the ICONpet™ is just hitting the U.S. market, early user feedback signals a strong consumer experience, indicating that BISSELL has translated its reputation for deep-cleaning solutions with a new robot vacuum offering. Key to customer satisfaction is the powerful motor and suction capability that their vacuums have long been known for, and the easy-to-use interface for programming and activating the robot.
Beyond user insights, a key outcome was the company’s own deep learning about AI, IoT and wireless connected products. These findings are helping the company make a statement about its capability to integrate technology without compromising its commitment to being a trusted leader in cleaning solutions. The end-to-end journey of creating the ICONpet™ with a collaborative partner in Twisthink required a concerted effort to define, refine and learn together as a team. The value-added insights that BISSELL gained from this experience can now be leveraged to other projects and product lines across the company.
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