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Fascinating facts about Helen Greiner inventor of the ROOMBA® robot vacuum in 2002. Helen Greiner
Inventor: Helen Greiner
Helen Greiner photo courtesy iRobor Corporation
Criteria: First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: December 6, 1967 in London,  England
  Chairwoman and co-founder, iRobot Corp.
Nationality: British
Under Ms. Greiner's leadership, iRobot Corporation is delivering robots into the industrial, consumer, academic, and military markets. Recently, she was named the Ernst and Young New England Entrepreneurs of the Year® for 2003 (with iRobot co-founder Colin Angle). Selected from entrants across New England, she was cited for her experience, expertise and innovation. She has also been honored as a Technology Review Magazine "Innovator for the Next Century," invited to the World Economic Forums as a Global Leader of Tomorrow, and has been awarded the prestigious DEMO God Award at the DEMO Conference. Her 15 years of experience in robotic technology includes work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science, both from MIT.

These days, robots are typically used in limited, specialized roles. But if Helen Greiner and Colin Angle have anything to say about that, robots may soon be a more versatile and ubiquitous part of our lives. Greiner and Angle are two of the founders of IS Robotics. As president of the company and head of research, Greiner has been able to balance the company’s business and research needs. "Helen is an innovator in technology, government research and business," says Rodney Brooks, director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a co-founder of the company.

It is iRobot’s foray into the home that is putting the company on the map. Greiner says she and her colleagues knew that if they could find a way to relieve folks from the drudgery of household tasks, it would be a big hit with consumers. “For 13 years, when we introduced ourselves, people would say, ‘Can you make a robot that will clean my house?’” So the trio turned their attention to creating a robotic vacuum they could market for $200. Roomba is a small, disc-shaped vacuum that cruises around a room, using sensors to maneuver around furniture and avoid stairs.

Indications are they did it right. Since its launch in September 2002, Roomba has been selling briskly (again, iRobot won’t disclose numbers) and won the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It was chosen as one of Oprah’s “favorite things” and was featured at the VH1 Diva Awards Show party, where celebrities wore “real divas don’t vacuum” T-shirts.

“They’re the first ones to make a commercial success of what would be considered domestic robotics,” says Craig Jennings, president of the Robotic Industries Association. “Nobody else has had a product that has had the success of Roomba. I think they hit a home run.”

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Invention of the Vacuum Cleaner   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE WEB:
Technology Review at MIT
ROOMBA, a robotic vacuum cleaner is putting iRobot and its three founders on the map, article by Elizabeth Durant.

(URL: www.technologyreview.com/articles/03/10/durant1003.asp?p=1)
iRobot Corporation
Our robots combine the latest artificial intelligence technology with easy to use interfaces. The consumer robots are supervised by their owners and respond to a click of a button or mouse. The toys simply "know how they are being played with" and respond. 
(URL: www.irobot.com/)
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Keynote address by Helen Greiner titled "Robots   Saving Money, Time and Lives".
(URL: conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/et2004/view/e_sess/4844
)
Robot Master
Helen Greiner's childhood crush on R2-D2 blossomed into a fabulous career in robotics. Article by Kristen Weir.
(URL: www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0BFU/13_88/98539745/p1/article.jhtml)


WORDS OF WISDOM:
"People's perception of robots has really changed recently, to, 'Hey, this is something I can really have in my home,' to 'This is something that is out there today, saving lives.' It's something that has real applications and real uses." - Helen Greiner,  May 30, 2005 by Associated Press
 

ROOMBA® is a trademark of iRobot Corporation
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 10 2006.
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