Do Architects Fear the Roomba?

By Chris Bartle –, CC BY 2.0,

The New York Times wrote a story this week about how your “Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold”. Wow I love that. I am not one who typically enjoys an item in my home watching me and reporting to the world of my activities. I am always wondering what my “Alexa” is telling people about me. She seems to always be listening in.

So you may ask me, why? I would love to go to a client’s home and have some quality time with them discussing their needs, whether it be an addition or changing some rooms around, while my Roomba is cleaning up their home and gathering floor plan information at the same time. I would be so popular, the Architect who cleans your home as he discusses your future expansion! Not such a bad marketing plan. That is full service!

But seriously I am always looking for ways to cut down my time in a client’s house. On average, a 3,500 square foot home takes a good four to five hours to sketch up plans and document the existing conditions. I have managed to reduce my time on the exterior through the use of Spike by Ike. This gadget is not a robot but it allows me to snap pictures of segments of the house and when I get back to my desktop computer I am able to take the images and grab any dimension I need.

I think all architects should embrace technology which allows us to streamline our services and give a great product in an expeditious manner. We all used to use a 100 foot tape for exteriors and a 25 foot steel tape for interior work. You had to do acrobatics at times to measure in a room full of furniture and breakables and it was a two person job because you needed someone to hold one end of the tape. Now since we have a laser it has become a one person job and the time has been easily cut in half! Being a sole practitioner any tool that can eliminate a helper is a blessing!

Do I ever fear a robot taking over my job? Absolutely not! Every architect has their own unique perspective and problem solving techniques and design ideas. I find it unimaginable for a robot to take in all the data required to solve a homeowner’s unique issues. I do believe they will aide in a variety of ways, such as code compliance, zoning compliance and just all the nitty-gritty details that are important but not to the extent of imagining the end users space and formulating it for them.

I have an Architect friend that truly believes the use of the pencil (or just drawing by hand) as a tool for architects is on the way out. This is just not acceptable to me. I personally will always use some form of hand drawing in developing my design ideas. I need to feel the lead on the paper as I freestyle through the process rapidly coming up with solutions.

So for me I hope one day, in the future, to come clean your home as we discuss your expansion ideas as I sketch them out before you eyes!