SoftBank Takes Stake in Roomba-Maker IRobot

Roomba Maker Preparing to Sell Maps of Your Home to Advertisers

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.

The executive is now exploring deals to share data with tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon, according to Reuters. iRobot is already compatible with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Google Home, so there's already some sharing of information in place.

"No data is sold to third parties", he said.

And now iRobot, the company behind the Roomba, could make a deal with Amazon, Apple, or Google within the next few years to sell those maps and other user data. Mapped data is then used during future runs to help the vacuum more efficiently clean your floors.




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. The company declined to comment on how it classifies the information.

iRobot does not specify in its privacy policy whether a map of a home would legally be considered personally identifiable information or anonymized user data.

More than just automatically, seamlessly sweeping up dirt, (and inspiring cat-shuttling compilations on YouTube), Angle's vision for the Roomba places the domestic bot in service of improving the smart home. For instance, the Amazon Echo, if placed within a room with not much furniture in it, could suggest purchases to fill up the space. The competition is focused on making cleaning products, not a mapping robot'. While 980s clean, they also collect data on the houses they occupy like the dimensions of a room, distances between sofas, tables, lamps and other items inside homes.

iRobot became compatible with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant in March and could reach a deal to sell its maps in the next couple of years, Angle said. While he notes that there already are "targeted laws and liability norms" to help curb potential problems, companies will need to develop "privacy-by-design" and "security-by-design" strategies to ensure that data handling is done properly and reliably.

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