IRobot Enters Air Filtration, With $ 72 Million Purchase From Swiss Air Purifier Supplier


IRobot Corp. CEO Colin Angle has long explained that he wants iRobot to play a key role in ‘smart home’ technology, beyond making robots that roam customer floors. and clean up their mess.

Angle publicly announced on Thursday the first acquisition of the Bedford-based company to expand its smart home portfolio, with a deal to acquire air purifier supplier Aeris Cleantec AG. IRobot pays at least $ 72 million for the Swiss company, Angle said. Its two co-founders and nearly 30 employees have joined iRobot, and the company will adopt the iRobot brand over time.

IRobot’s premium Roomba vacuums can create digital maps of customers’ homes. Angle plans to roll out software over the next year that will allow Roomba owners to use their robots’ mapping skills to determine the best places to run air purifiers and when to operate them. Angle said his management team is studying various products to take advantage of digitally connected homes beyond cleaning robots, and is considering possible acquisitions, to expand iRobot to everything from security to energy efficiency to health. This The acquisition of Aeris, which falls under the “health” category, is their first such agreement.

“I was looking for large companies that offered innovative solutions that were in line with the iRobot brand and the smart home vision,” Angle said. “Vacuuming and mopping are the two top dogs right now. Over time, there are also opportunities for technological solutions. “

Aeris chief executive Pierre Bi said he started his business in 2015 with co-founder Constantin Overlack, inspired in part by the need to tackle the smog that affected their living space when they were in Beijing. The company generated around $ 8 million in revenue last year, he said, and is on track to roughly double that amount this year. He said Aeris purifiers successfully achieve high airflow, to cover more space in the home, while improving filtration efficiency, or the amount of pollutants that can be effectively captured by the filter. . Usually, he said, these two important machine requirements work at odds with each other.

In 2017, iRobot acquired foreign distributors of its products, in Europe and Japan. The last acquisition that did not involve a distributor was in 2012, when iRobot bought Evolution Robotics, which brought with it the Braava line of robotic mops, according to an iRobot spokesperson.

The Aeris deal is iRobot’s first acquisition that doesn’t involve real robots, although Angle has hinted that it might be seen differently over time.

“We’ll let history decide if the things we build with Pierre count as robots,” Angle said. “[But] it’s the ‘least robotic’ thing we’ve ever acquired.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him on twitter @jonchesto.


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