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.
Apple, Google, and Amazon are just a few of the companies that may benefit from acquiring home mapping data, but iRobot's plan understandably carries privacy and security concerns.
Roomba To Expand Smart Home Presence
iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters that the mapping technology found in the high-end models of the Roomba could have a significant impact in improving the services offered by smart home devices.
"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.
The 900-series Roomba vacuums use simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM, technology to map out rooms while they clean, storing information on the layouts of rooms and the location of furniture.
Angle added that it may close a deal to sell the home mapping data collected by its Roomba devices to one or more tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Amazon.
What Will Tech Companies Do With The Home Mapping Data?
One example of how home mapping data can help tech companies is with smart speakers. 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. For instance, the Amazon Echo, if placed within a room with not much furniture in it, could suggest purchases to fill up the space.
Other smart home devices, including smart lights and smart thermostats, will also provide better services and features if their systems understood the layout of the rooms of a house.
Of course all this is just speculation on how data collected by the Roomba could help the smart home industry. The point, however, is that companies do stand to benefit a lot from the home mapping data acquired by the cleaning robot.
Privacy Concerns Against Roomba
Allowing the Roomba to create a layout of the user's home with the data to be passed to other tech companies could be unnerving for some, even if this means better smart home functions in return.
Angle, however, noted that iRobot will not sell home mapping data without the permission of its customers. For Roomba users who would like to enjoy their privacy, the best thing that they can do for now is hope that Angle and iRobot will keep its word.