Roomba Maker Wants to Sell Maps of Your Home to Google, Amazon

Roomba Maker Wants to Sell Maps of Your Home to Google, Amazon

Roomba Maker Wants to Sell Maps of Your Home to Google, Amazon

Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot Corp, is enthused about the idea of combining spatial data that the Roomba gathers about your home with the information from other devices like smart thermostats, cameras, or units like the Amazon Echo.

The "smart" home lighting, thermostats and protection cameras now on the business are all pretty dumb when it comes to the understanding what your home layout is, the CEO of iRobot6, Colin Angle tells.

For a long time, people have considered the Roomba robot to be a harmless machine, but all seems to change now with the company declaring that these robovacs have been mapping the homes. iRobot thinks that this data can fetch good money for them and will be helpful for data-hungry tech companies as well.

The Roomba 900 Series offers a Clean Map Report, which maps your home as it vacuums, improving its movement and telling you how well it cleaned.

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For now, however, iRobot, which launched in 1990 selling bomb disposal robots to the U.S military and moved on to domestic robotic vacuums in 2002, holds 88% of the USA "robovac" market. Of course, if you ever opted into Clean Map Reports, you technically already gave iRobot that permission. For many users the benefits of, say, a self-operating vacuum or voice-controlled lights outweigh these concerns. And while Angle said that no specific plan exists for iRobot to sell its mapping data to these companies, he told Reuters on Monday that iRobot "could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years". Customers can already control their Roomba through Amazon Alexa. We have to admit that it looks pretty unbelievable in action, but did you also consider the fact that while it is navigating your home that it is also collecting data about it?

But unless iRobot plans to start compensating customers for handing over their data, this violates one of the central tenets of modern surveillance capitalism.

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. "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".

Data is the hottest thing that companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are after. And that gives iRobot permission to give-or sell-your map.

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