While iRobot may have originated as a bomb-disposal robot maker at MIT in 1990, the company is probably better known as a robot vacuum company. So much so that it has taken to suing competitors like Bissell and Hoover, who sell their own robotic vacuum cleaners. The Roomba craze may not be as popular on the internet anymore, but iRobot reportedly has a new strategy in place: providing Roomba-gathered maps of your home to other smart device makers.
The CEO of iRobot, Colin Angle, tells Reuters that the "smart" home lighting, thermostats and security cameras currently on the market are all still pretty dumb when it comes to knowing what your home layout is. "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 told Reuters. He also said that his company is working to sell the data in the next few years. Amazon's Alexa can already control some Wi-Fi enabled models of the floor-cleaning robots; it makes sense that the company is looking for new ways to stay connected. We can only guess what a company like Apple could do with the data; asking Siri where in the house you left your Macbook isn't too far-fetched.
Still, sharing a detailed map of your home raises some privacy concerns. While iRobot's Angle promises that users will need to give their consent for the data to be shared, he shares no details on how it would work and whether it will be opt-in or opt-out. In addition, it's believable that some consumers won't like the idea of iRobot selling their data to other companies who don't have the same commitment to user data security. We've reached out to iRobot for comment on this matter and will update the post when we hear back.