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I, Roomba geek

Dec 21, 20052 mins
Data Center

There are a number of definitive tests to see if you are a real geek. One of the most accurate concerns the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner from iRobot. The test is simple … Nope, it isn’t whether you own one, it’s whether the idea of being able to hack your Roomba gets you excited. If this idea floats your boat and you should happen to own a Roomba manufactured after October 2005 you are in luck! These devices contain a serial interface and the software called the Roomba Serial Control Interface (Roomba SCI) so you can go crazy … But should your model be an earlier version fear not! You can upgrade your Roomba with the Roomba Osmo //hacker. So, what can you do using Roomba SCI? iRobot has published a document that spells it all out. I was amused to read that there is a “safe mode” command which makes me envision configuring Roombas to run amok and terrorize pets and small children. Fantasies aside, the SCI commands will allow you to get the Roomba to start various cleaning cycles, start and stop the various brushes and vacuum, play songs, seek the charging dock, and report on the state of its sensors. Combine these operations with a small enough onboard computer such as the Gumstix Waysmall with Bluetooth wireless connectivity and you could do some interesting things. So, guess what I’d like for Christmas?


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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