Roomba Maker Wants to Sell Maps of Your Home to Google, Amazon

Roomba Maker Preparing to Sell Maps of Your Home to Advertisers

Roomba Is Hoping To Sell The Maps Of Your Home To The Highest Bidder

The maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, iRobot, wants to start selling mapped floor plans of customers' homes to Google, Amazon and Apple, the company said Tuesday. "Right now, iRobot is building maps to enable the Roomba to efficiently and effectively clean your home", the company told CNET in a statement.

Representatives for SoftBank and IRobot declined to comment.

Founder Colin Angle said the data they gathered could be used to make other devices work better in a smart home.

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 point, however, is that companies do stand to benefit a lot from the home mapping data acquired by the cleaning robot.

Angle believes Roomba's data could help smart home devices better understand their environment, like matching sound systems to a home's acoustics, or changing an air conditioner's air flow based on how sun shines through windows in a particular room. He also stressed that, while his company would not sell data without the customers' explicit approval, many people will likely grant consent because of what opportunities it can open up. Bit by bit, companies nibble away at these ideas - no more anonymization here, a bit less control there - while simultaneously hinting these are things customers consciously agree to.

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.

It's a common question for those wary of smart home appliances: "Aren't you anxious about all the data they're collecting?" The ability to combine a Roomba and an Echo so Amazon can sell you more stuff because it knows the layout of your house?

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. The security of the data is not likely to be hard to overcome for a motivated and skilled individual so keep that in mind if you are shopping for a robot vacuum.

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