The dream of domestic appliances has always been freedom from drudgery. And not just that, but also freedom from the disputes between romantic partners or families over domestic chores. Will the new wave of robot cleaners bring more harmony into our homes?
The manufacturers of the robots themselves would certainly like to think so. Anker sub-brand Eufy recently shared an infographic (shown below) designed to highlight how saving time on chores can help us have fewer disputes at home.
The results may not be too surprising. Most people don't like doing chores, and generally agree that cleaning duties are the most onerous of all. And we can all relate to the causes of arguments that are highlighted - the chores are unfairly distributed, our partner/roommate/relative has unreasonable standards, we're just too tired out from work or other stresses to clean when we're asked to, etc. A potential powder-keg of misdirected anger, hurt feelings and regrets.
So, does this mean that we should offload domestic labor onto robots as much possible? I'm not quite convinced, though in all fairness, we've actually reviewed the Eufy RoboVac 30C and found it to be pretty good. In fact it made our best list for its value for money.
But I think there are a couple other more important factors to consider. The survey was sent to us in anticipation of Father's Day and sparked off by a customer saying that the product meant he wasn't being told to vacuum the floor "all the time" (hm...) by his wife and so he had more time for hobbies.
While I won't speculate on this particular situation, it does remind us that at least for heterosexual partners and families, even the most woke among us were likely raised within a framework of unequal gender roles when it comes to housework. Women often end up shouldering an unfair amount of domestic labor, even when they have jobs outside the house. A good cleaning robot will make some tasks faster and easier, but if the remainder of the tasks are still unfairly distributed, there will probably be more conflict over a different chore.
As someone who's had at least one discussion about whose turn it is to clean/maintain the vacuum robot, I feel that communication is more important - often you can be asked to do something you'd be happy to agree to do, but at the time of asking you could be too stressed or tried to do it, and at that time someone else's patience has also worn thin (or vice versa, of course).
Has smart home tech changed your domestic relationships?
Still, I'm 100% behind that idea that automation should liberate us from dull, repetitive, unpleasant tasks and allow us to give more time to our hobbies, passions and loved ones. But Anker's survey didn't go into whether smart home technology itself had any impact.
So I put it to you, our community. Has smart home tech (vacuum bots, digital assistants, smart bulbs or security) actually reduced quarrels in your household?
Do you have any stories about how technology improved relations in the home, or did it even make things worse? Let us know in the comments!