Data is the hottest thing that companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are after. Now Roomba maker iRobot has passively expressed interest in offering household data to such companies for a price.
Roomba robot or a spy robovac?
For a long time, people have considered the Roomba robot to be a harmless machine, but all seems to change now with the company declaring that these robovacs have been mapping the homes. iRobot thinks that this data can fetch good money for them and will be helpful for data-hungry tech companies as well.
Speaking to Reuters, iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters that the company has indoor mapping data gathered by the Roomba automatic vacuum cleaning machine, and this they hope to sell it to tech leaders such as Apple in the days to come.
“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 said.
According to the CEO, data extracted from a Roomba robot will be helpful in increasing the efficiency of smart home devices and making them friendlier, like matching sound systems to a home’s acoustics or adjusting the air conditioner air flow depending on the intensity of the sun in a particular room, notes ZDNet.
With the launch of the Roomba 980 in 2015, iRobot unveiled the first vacuum cleaner with mapping technology. With the help of a camera and different types of proximity sensors, the Roomba 980 gathers all the data and wanders through each room to create a map of the floor space. Roomba has the ability to tell in real-time if the cleaner has missed any spot, notes ZDNet.
As of now, Roomba is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but in the coming months, it might be compatible with Apple’s HomePod speaker.
iRobot already has your permission
Roomba owners can deselect cloud-sharing functions within the iRobot Home app. But the company’s terms and conditions reportedly have a clause saying that they have the right to share customers’ personal information, according to Gizmodo.
Users generally are laid-back when it comes to reading entire terms of service agreements and privacy policies. At the first look, it might appear the fault of the customer for accepting them, but service companies have always exploited their customers. The same appears to be the case with iRobot.
“We may share your personal information with other parties in connection with any company transaction, such as a merger, sale of all or a portion of company assets or shares, reorganization, financing, change of control or acquisition of all or a portion of our business by another company or third party or in the event of bankruptcy or related or similar proceeding,” reads Roomba’s policy terms.
Angle told Reuters that his company will not sell data unless it has customers’ permission, but it appeared confident that users will agree to share their data in order to access the smart home functions. However, it is not clear if Angle was referring to the above clause as consent from users.