iRobot, the company behind Roomba, wants to collect home mapping data & sell it to companies like Apple

A new report from Reuters outlines the push from Roombo vacuum maker iRobot to expand further into smart home territory. According to the report, iRobot is looking to start collecting mapping information and sell it to tech companies such as Apple to help improve their smart home information.

In an interview, iRobot CEO Colin Angle explained that with the expansion of smart home accessories, the mapping data collected from a Roomba could be used for accessory makers to have a better idea on how homes are designed and laid out:

“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,” said Angle.

Reuters adds that Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet are all “fans” of the technology. iRobot hopes to ink a deal with one of the tree major tech companies “in the next couple of years.” Such a deal would see iRobot sell its maps data to improve the design of future smart phone products and accessories.

One analyst also thinks Apple could use the mapping data to help surround sound systems match home acoustics, or to help air conditioners schedule airflow by room. Smart lightning could be adjusted based on window placement and time of day.

The obvious issue that jumps to mind with this strategy is privacy. Angle says, however, that iRobot won’t sell any data without customer permission, but he doesn’t think it will be hard to gain permission from customers in exchange for such smart home features:

One potential downside is that selling data about users’ homes raises clear privacy issues, said Ben Rose, an analyst who covers iRobot for Battle Road Research. Customers could find it “sort of a scary thing,” he said.

Angle said iRobot would not sell data without its customers’ permission, but he expressed confidence most would give their consent in order to access the smart home functions.

What do you think of iRobot’s plans? Would you allow it to sell data from your Roomba in exchange for more advanced smart home features? Let us know what you think down in the comments.

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HomeKit is Apple's home automation framework that lets you control connected accessories from your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, and Siri.

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