iRobot, the company behind the mysteriously popular Roomba automated vacuum cleaner is planning to upload mapping data from users and sell it on to Apple, Amazon, Google and other companies.
The latest Roomba models have a mapping feature. This makes it easier for the thing to make its way around the home vacuuming as it goes, without continually trying to go where it can't or shouldn't.
There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home - Colin Angle, CEO, iRobot
But that information might also be handy for a number of tech giants, which is why iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters that the firm would be up for selling the information.
"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," he said.
Angle has three firms in mind, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet. Roomba has already opened discussions with Amazon, and he expects to have something official done with at least one of the trio of tech giants by 2020.
It's a fair assumption that the three companies would be interested in acquiring that data because we know that they want to have as much data on humans as they possibly can. Customers of iRobot and other smart devices, though, may not be so positive. Indeed, on Twitter the response is almost entirely negative.
I was thinking of upgrading my iRoomba- but not any longer.— Kitara Feline (@Catselan) July 25, 2017
People have threatened to dump their Roomba and buy an alternative (as if Samsung has entirely clean hands on the issue of customer privacy) and have voiced their concerns about tech companies' increasing intrusiveness.
Privacy was the first thing that came to our mind, so we can't imagine how Angle let those words fall out of his mouth without considering the response.
hey @iRobot, if you start selling my home data to other companies, I will sell my Roomba vacuum cleaner and buy another brand.— Renai LeMay (@renailemay) July 25, 2017
Still, while he was at it he also waxed about patents, how many patents his company has and how that gives it something of an advantage over the competition. "[Patents are a] huge part of our competitive moat," he said. "It is getting really hard not to step on our intellectual property."
Woah. Someone put a lid on him.
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