Update: iRobot CEO Colin Angle has released the following statement in regards to this matter:
“iRobot does not sell data [sic] customer data. Our customers always come first. We will never violate our customer’s trust by selling or misusing customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products. Right now, the data Roomba collects enables it to effectively clean the home and provides customers with information about cleaning performance. iRobot believes that in the future, this information could provide even more value for our customers by enabling the smart home and the devices within it to work better, but always with their explicit consent.”
When you purchased your Roomba, I’m sure the only thing you were thinking about was how much time this little robot would save you. With the phone app, it’s so easy to schedule a time for your vacuum to go to work.
What you might not have considered is how much information this vacuum collects about your home. The higher-end Roomba models are Wi-Fi connected and store the floor plan of your home to memory that the manufacturer has access to.
In the next few years, iRobot Corp. (the company that designs and builds Roombas) could make a deal to sell these floor plans to Amazon, Google and/or Apple. The idea is that layouts of your home would improve smart home devices and give digital assistants information that would make them more useful.
Roombas use cameras and sensors to orient themselves around your home. These vacuums can figure out the room’s dimensions and the distance between furniture. The Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 are the two models that create “Clean Maps” to give you a report of the dirtiest spots in your home.
However, iRobot Corp CEO believes these maps could be used for so much more. According to a robotics professor at Cornell University, smart speakers could use the maps to match your home’s acoustics, smart ACs could adjust airflow by room, and smart lights could dim or brighten based on the position of the windows.
Amazon, Apple and Google are interested because knowing more about your home allows their advertising to be more precise. If Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri are helping you shop for home decor, that floor plan would help your digital assistant make a better suggestion.
But don’t throw out your Roomba just yet! If the iRobot deal to share floor plans doesn’t sit well with you then you can opt out. The CEO said they won’t sell your information without your permission. But he’s pretty confident that customers will give their consent in favor of improving their smart home systems.