Your Roomba Is also Gathering Data About the Layout of Your Home

26 July, 2017, 01:12 | Author: Randy Kelley
  • Roomba Maker Preparing to Sell Maps of Your Home to Advertisers

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot has spoken to Reuters about his plans for Roomba devices, highlighting how the robot vacs could be used to boost smart home functionality in other gadgets.

According to Angle, smart, internet connected devices, from thermostats to fridges, can already be found in many homes, but they don't attempt to understand their physical environment.

This would, obviously, be a large pivot for a company that first made its money selling reconnaissance and bomb-defusing robots to the military before becoming one of the bigger success stories in the consumer robotics space.

iRobot, whose Roomba line of robotic vacuums are a favorite among felines, has come up with a new revenue-generating strategy that doesn't involve selling you another cleaning machine.

Have a Roomba? Maps of the inside of your home could soon wind up with tech companies like Apple, Amazon, or Google parent Alphabet.

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Of course, there are privacy concerns. Some of these devices could use a map of your house to be more effective, but none of them moves around your house collecting spatial data in the same way a Roomba does.

If you think it's creepy that Roomba's been sharing maps of your house with its maker, there's a way to cut the data sharing with iRobot, though it might disable a key feature of your robo-vac.

No matter what side of the data debate you're on, there's no need to toss the Roomba out the window just yet: Angle vows that the company won't sell user information without consent. If you want a smart home, or if you use social media, you are, ipso facto agreeing to share information about yourself that will be sold to third parties in ways you can't control. "Maybe that doesn't unnerve you", Gizmodo notes in its coverage, which also includes a dive into iRobot's terms of service, "but it probably should".

iRobot does not specify in its privacy policy whether a map of a home would legally be considered personally identifiable information or anonymized user data. With the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, along with the upcoming Apple HomePod, knowing how the homes of its users look like will allow the companies to customize the experiences offered by the devices accordingly. And that gives iRobot permission to give-or sell-your map.


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