Roomba Maps Your Home; CEO Says Data Could Be Sold

Nichole Vega
July 26, 2017

Founder Colin Angle said the data they gathered could be used to make other devices work better in a smart home.

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.

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.

Furthermore, any users that allowed Roomba to access their Clean Map reports has already given permission to iRobot to share their data with third parties, including selling it, Lifehacker reported.

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.

Roomba's terms and conditions state that it collects a range of data about its customers, including when they interact with it on social media. Roomba is already compatible with Amazon's voice assistant Alexa and its accompanying smart speaker Echo.

It sounds like it could be a privacy nightmare for Roomba owners, but the thing is a floorplan of your home doesn't really tell anyone who stays in there, what you do, what your passwords are, and what kind of conversations you are having.

iRobot customer service isn't all on the same page about this news. The data will help improve smart home devices but possibly at the cost of user privacy.

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.

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

One of the problems with covering the decline of privacy in the digital age is the very concept that people should have the right to control how their information is bought, sold, and monetized is fundamentally opposed to most digital company business models (not to mention government policy).

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