Your Roomba's Map of Your House Could Soon Be For Sale

Posted July 26, 2017

iRobot CEO Colin Angle has been talking about his company's plans to map user homes with the Roomba for a while now, but a recently published Reuters interview has raised a number of new privacy concerns.

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.

"VACUUM CLEANER COMPANY iRobot, responsible for the "smart" Roomba vacuum, is considering doing something really dumb - selling user mapping data to companies that would hand over how your house is laid out".

"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". 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.

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.

How exactly the opt-in will look to the end user remains to be seen - hopefully it will be more transparent than fine print at the bottom of some lengthy terms of service, detailing how and to whom data is sold. Customers at home can already activate their Roomba through Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. The data could help market you some.

The company could reach a deal to sell this data in "the next couple of years", Angle tells Reuters.

Williams told BuzzFeed News that while iRobot will need to get customers' permission, "this request for consent may appear as small print in some updated policy, which in our mind is not real consent, especially given the sensitivity of this information". The company declined to comment on how it classifies the information. Right now, iRobot is building maps to enable the Roomba to efficiently and effectively clean your home.

Angle insists to Reuters that the company would not sell information with customer permission.