The makers of the Roomba are looking to sell consumers’ home floor plans.
Will iRobot clean up by selling mapping data of customer homes captured by the company’sÂ popular robotic vacuum cleaners?
That specterÂ was raised when iRobot CEO Colin AngleÂ told ReutersÂ that, “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.”
And Angle suggested that iRobot could sell such maps data within a couple of years to one or more among Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet.
At least one competitor immediately seized on the potential risk to customer privacy. “We have a very different approach to our mapping technology and what it means for our consumers,” says Christopher Caen, head of marketing at ECOVACS Robotics North America.
“This a very sensitive thing for consumers, their homes, and we have to realize that we are no longer just selling appliances. We are selling interactive nodes that are loose in your home, and if we donât approach this carefully, it has the risk to become a very invasive thing.”
In an email sent to USA TODAY, iRobot insists that it is “committed to the absolute privacy of our customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products.” It said that no such data is shared with third parties without the “informed consent” of customers, and added that iRobot has “not formed any plans to sell the data.”
Two years ago, the highest end Roomba models added cameras and sensors that enabled the robovacs to quietly build maps of users’ homes whileÂ at the same time the robots were dutifully engaged in their vacuuming chores.
iRobot Home: Opt out
iRobot’s so-called Clean Maps reports (available forÂ higher end models) let customers through an iRobot app on their smartphones view cleaning coverage areas,…