Roomba Is Mapping Your House to Make IoT Gadgets Smarter

26 July, 2017, 01:12 | Author: Sherri Guerrero
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He reportedly thinks iRobot's mapping data can help smart home devices like lights, thermostats, and security cameras better understand their physical environment.

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 US "robovac" market.

The CEO of iRobot, which makes the automatic vacuum, told Reuters that his company is considering selling the data Roombas have collected in customers' homes to companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon.

The Roomba, the beloved robotic vacuum, may soon invade the privacy of users as its maker iRobot is planning to sell mapping data of homes to tech companies.

Here's the key quote: "There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared", Angle said. All robovacs use short-range infrared or laser sensors to detect and avoid obstacles, but iRobot in 2015 added a camera, new sensors and software to its flagship 900-series Roomba that gave it the ability to build a map while keeping track of their own location within it. 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.

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iRobot has already introduced integration with Amazon's Alexa assistant, launching the functionality back in March this year.

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.

But unless iRobot plans to start compensating customers for handing over their data, this violates one of the central tenets of modern surveillance capitalism. The data will help improve smart home devices but possibly at the cost of user privacy. "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". Amazon declined to comment.

The aforementioned "big three" would also likely be interested in maps of users homes to support product recommendations for customers.


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