June 2023 saw the release of our second robot (after SwitchBot S1) – the world’s smallest sweeping robot, SwitchBot K10+. Which received huge success in Japan via crowdfunding website Makuake making it one of the most successful robot vacuums to ever hit its platform. Now, as K10+ is about to enter the EU and US markets, I think it’s time to take a little look into what made K10+ come to fruition.

So why did we decide to make K10+?

The story behind the world's smallest vacuum.

Well, it was one of the founding points we looked at when trying to implement IoRT into the homes of everyday users.
We are looking to create a world where home life is able to run on IoRT: by developing single functional smart home devices and combining them in various ways. This in turn can become our very own butler-esque robots that can help us complete repetitive tasks athome such as: opening curtains every morning (SwitchBot Curtain), and turning on lights every time we return home (SwitchBot Bot).

Among them, the existence of robot vacuums is some-what crucial. Serving as the base of our IoRT devices, and is the key to achieving full automation for repetitive household chores.

The industry needed this.

At present, more and more people around the world are looking to include robot vacuums in their homes to help automatically clean things up around living areas. Including those living in urban apartments. But I think a lot of people often find out after purchasing most of the available options out there at the moment that although most of the robot vacuums on the market can clean by passing around, it is far from convenient to use, and the following issues might occur:
  • It’s too large, and gets stuck around the bottom of chairs and tables when cleaning.
  • The room in which it cleans has a lot of furniture and narrow aisles, making it difficult to pass through so it can clean the spaces behind.
  • The noise is too loud, making it particularly annoying in apartment rooms.
Although the market for such robot vacuums is already somewhat mature, we’ve found that a lot of them are either large in size or emit a lot of noise due to the pursuit of greater cleaning power.

Therefore, in order to help users living in apartments to easily complete cleaning tasks but still keep things quiet at the same time, the concept of the world’s smallest broom – SwitchBot K10+, was born.

Research, development, and innovation.

In order to allow SwitchBot K10+ to shuttle through the narrow corridors of apartments and clean as many corners as possible, we decided to minimize its size as much as possible. With a lot of the “mini” versions of electronics found out and about, due to size reduction, product functionality is usually limited to some extent. However, we didn’t want SwitchBot K10+ to be in a situation where we’d have to exclude functionality or maybe skimp on suction power just because it’s a mini model. Reducing the size of a robot vacuum but then now allowing for enough cleaning power to ‘get the job done’ so speak kind of defeats the object of having such a device in the first place.
And so, after nearly two years of development by our technical team, we managed to reduce the size of K10+ by 50% compared to previous generation robot vacuums, but at the same time:
  • Maintain the same suction power as previous products.
  • Be equipped with 10 flagship level sensors, allowing K10+ to freely pass through corridors and furniture without being stopped by obstacles.
  • Emit less noise (48dB) when compared to competitors.

Small yet powerful.

In order to reduce the size of the SwitchBot K10+ while also enabling it to still be a great cleaner, we spent nearly two years optimizing its air duct system to make sure K10+ could still use 2500Pa suction power.
The team introduced a high-flow fan blade with a larger working area, that is able to roll more air in the same volume of space. With a faster speed brushless motor to increase the power of the fan. Adopting this design for an intake duct allowed K10+ to capture more air.
After going through a rigorous design process, hardware functionality and air circuit design increased the suction of SwitchBot K10+ by 40% when compared to its volume.

It's also super smart too!

The SLAM team at SwitchBot spent two years developing navigation and obstacle avoidance solutions for SwitchBot K10+, helping it accurately find its way and move freely in the smaller areas. The team successfully integrated 10 sensors onto its body, which is actually the equivalent to what you’d find on an industry standard larger robot vacuum.
Measures just 25cm in diameter.
In order to improve route planning, SwitchBot’s SLAM team tried various navigation algorithms, and ultimately chose a more advanced LiDAR solution for navigation accuracy and mapping speed. When testing, the team observed the movement of K10+ for 24 hours using an infrared camera installed on the ceiling of the testing area. Combined with the compact size of K10+, the actual cleaning coverage rate of the area used increased by up to 90%.

Emits less noise.

We were also able to address device noise by looking at two issues..
By redesigning the air ducts and motor we were able to successfully reduce operating noise when cleaning to just 48dB. The air inlet now allows air to enter SwitchBot K10+ more smoothly and reduces the noise caused by air accumulation and rotation, then soundproofing materials were used in the intake duct, successfully suppressing internal noise generated by high-speed air vibrations. At the same time, the brushless motor rotor we included uses Balance Design technology, which reduces the operating noise of the motor by 30%.
By specifying the cleaning time, noise can also be avoided: When using robot vacuums, it is often not the cleaning itself that emits the most noise, but the dust collection base station when collecting dust once finished cleaning. This is because the base station needs more power to suck in the garbage from the main unit itself. Traditional robot vacuums, on the other hand, immediately collect dust and make loud noises after cleaning, regardless of whether you are sleeping, resting, or working. To solve this problem, we innovatively made the dust collection time of SwitchBot K10+ customizable by the user. Once you have set a specified dust collection time, even if K10+ completes cleaning, it will wait until the specified time to start dust collection. This way, you can have the dust collection base station start working when you are not at home, avoiding such noise.

SwitchBot Ecosystem is already in full swing, and robot vacuums are now a part of it.

It might be safe to say that robot vacuums haven’t yet been fully integrated into modern society, due in part to cost and a bunch of other reasons too. However, we’ve been aiming to make robot vacuums a whole lot more accessible, and it doesn’t just stop there. This is how our IoRT ecosystem works at SwitchBot, helping a host of accessible, easy to use smart devices come together, and our robot vacuums K10+ and S10 are going to be important components of it.