Robot vacuum company mulls selling maps of homes

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The privacy-invading plan will help other smart home devices operate more efficiently using movement data collected by the circular cleaning gadget, CEO Colin Angle told Reuters. As those corporations delve into the artificially intelligent voice assistant devices market, they are also exploring the advent of smart homes, a similar, but more extensive technology.

The executive is now exploring deals to share data with tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon, according to Reuters. iRobot is already compatible with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Google Home, so there's already some sharing of information in place.

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. Those companies declined or did not respond to Reuters seeking additional comment.

It sounds like it could be a privacy nightmare for Roomba owners, but the thing is a floorplan of your home doesn't really tell anyone who stays in there, what you do, what your passwords are, and what kind of conversations you are having. "We will always ask your permission to even store map data". Angle followed up the statement with a Q&A that seems to imply that the company is still in the very early stages of these talks.

Alphabet, Apple and Amazon are all reported to have shown interest.

No matter what side of the data debate you're on, there's no need to toss the Roomba out the window just yet: Angle vows that the company won't sell user information without consent. "It is still unclear what -if any - actual "partnerships" would be needed to make that happen". Customers can already control their Roomba through Amazon Alexa. "This is a dynamic space and we can't really say more than that". And now, the company wants to share the data its collected from users homes (or dorm room) with others.

Angle said that the spatial information generated by Roombas would allow connected devices to function better.

If user data is so valuable to tech companies, individuals ought to have the right to either share in the profits companies gain from selling it, or to pay for their data to be kept private at a cost that reflects the wholesale value of their private data.

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