Roomba mapping has been a concern for those that value their privacy. There are always worries about what iRobot will do with this information once it has it in its hands.
This capability can also be useful besides Roomba using it to map out home. Its mapping feature could be used to make Wi-Fi coverage maps of home.
Roombas will be receiving the Wi-Fi mapping feature from the iRobot in mid-January. Wi-Fi enabled Roombas will be able to make maps of indoor signals where these maps will show the coverage range of the owner's home. This highlights weaker areas of the home and areas that may be dead zones.
For now, the feature will only be available for those who opt into the beta program. Not all users will be able to receive the feature as it will have limited availability.
The program will also be limited to those with the Roomba 900 series because of its mapping abilities. Users will be able to swap between the app's Clean Map feature and another map that will show them the range of their Wi-Fi signal.
This feature is a boon for those that have spotty Wi-Fi service in their household and want to get down to the bottom of things. The new update also comes in handy for the models that are controlled remotely by the use of Wi-Fi.
iRobot chief executive Colin Angle was previously in hot water for giving an interview with Reuters that the company was selling home mapping data to third parties. Angle had to clarify statements he made in the interview.
Originally, it seemed that iRobot wanted to sell consumer data to third parties in order to make more money. Once this was clarified, it seems that iRobot collects data and shares it with other products such as the Amazon Echo. While they aren't compensated, it is still a concern.
iRobot didn't disclose what data the Roombas can collect. It did admit that the maps that customers see aren't the same maps that the companies get to see. Data collected by the Roomba is sent to the cloud where the map is rendered into a user-friendly map in the in companion app.
Whether its Wi-Fi mapping or smart speakers, privacy concerns arise from products that are always on, with the possibility of listening or simply gathering information about occupants of where they're placed.