Roomba Is Mapping Your House to Make IoT Gadgets Smarter
Have a Roomba? Maps of the inside of your home could soon wind up with tech companies like Apple, Amazon or Google parent Alphabet.
In a recent interview with Reuters, iRobot co-founder and CEO Colin Angle said his company may sell maps of users' homes to third-party companies working on smart home devices. Collected by the company's high-end Roomba models, those maps include data about "the dimensions of a room as well as distances between sofas, tables, lamps and other home furnishings," according to the report.
The company could reach a deal to sell this data in "the next couple of years," Angle tells Reuters. He reportedly thinks iRobot's mapping data can help smart home devices like lights, thermostats and security cameras better understand their physical environment.
The news has, of course, raised privacy concerns. In a statement, Angle told PCMag said iRobot is "committed to the absolute privacy of our customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products.
"No data is sold to third parties," he said. "No data will be shared with third parties without the informed consent of our customers."
Right now, he said, the company is building maps "to enable the Roomba to efficiently and effectively clean your home." The company's top-of-the-line robot vacuum, the $900 Roomba 980, can, for instance, build a map of your home as it cleans and keep track of its location until it has tidied up an entire level.
"In the future, with your permission, this information will enable the smart home and the devices within it to work better," Angle wrote. "For example, if you wanted your home to understand which connected lights were in which rooms so your voice command device would work better, your Roomba would be able to provide that. But to be clear, this is only if you opt in. It is still unclear what -- if any -- actual 'partnerships' would be needed to make that happen."
Meanwhile on the robotics front, the co-inventor of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, Joe Jones, recently unveiled a new product: the Tertill weed-killing robot. The cute little device is solar powered and waterproof; it lives in your garden, collecting sunlight during the day. Once the battery is fully charged, it starts roaming and hacking away at any weeds it passes over.