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Roombas Mapping Out Your House May Be Doing You a Favor

Robot vacuum cleaner on laminate wood floor, Smart robotic automate wireless cleaning technology machine in living room.

If you have a Roomba, we have news for you – your sweeper robot might soon sell off your house map to various tech companies.

The information comes straight from Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, the company behind the popular vacuum cleaner. He didn’t come out right and say it, but he did hint that in the next couple of years, Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet, Google’s parent-company, may soon get access to maps of your home.

There’s a purpose to this, of course, not just mindless spying. “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.

In other words, the device wouldn’t be spying on you just for the sake of it, but rather to help out other smart devices peppering your house. That does not make this information any less creepier, however.

The idea of having a smart house is nothing new and many tech moguls already have one, although what we’ve probably seen in movies thus far is a bit exaggerated. But there’s technology out there that puts control of your lights, blinds, heat, water temperature, air conditioning and so on into your hands via a simple tablet.

If you have the money and the desire to do so, your entire home can become “smart,” including your appliances. And it’s those smart devices that already know a bit too much about you. Wondering what they might know? Well, the smart thermostat Nest, currently owned by Alphabet Inc, knows when you’re home and when you’re not, in what rooms you spent more time in, and so on.

We’re not even going to get into those smart security cameras since their name says it all.

When it comes to getting a good grasp about the house they’re installed in, however, smart devices aren’t all that smart. A map created by Roomba, however, could help fix this little problem. The vacuum cleaner uses short-range infrared or laser sensors which are primarily used to detect and avoid obstacles on your floor. The newest versions, however, also sport a camera, new and better sensors, as well as a better software. All these combined results in a pretty accurate map of the floors of your house, which is great data to sell off to other smart home device creators.

For instance, after your room has been mapped, your thermostat will know how best to set the room temperature to its size, or it could help smart audio speakers know how to give you the best sound solution, and so on.

The iRobot privacy policy, however, states that the company can share the personal data of users with other companies they own, third party vendors and affiliates, the government, or any other company in case of sale or merger.

There are, naturally, many privacy concerns here – why would a company sell off such private data, why would they be allowed to even have this data. The conversation is kind of useless, however, because privacy as we know it is being redefined with every smart device being created, and, more specifically, with every such device we allow into our homes. The short of the story is that if you want complete privacy, then you could very well just say goodbye to smart home technology.

There’s also the fact that data sharing, which could truly be beneficial to your home comfort, is opt-in. In other words – if you don’t want your data to be shared, you don’t opt for this feature with the Roomba. There, problem solved.

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