Roomba Kicks Up Dust Around Privacy Issues for Smart Home Owners

Roomba privacy issues

Roomba, a product of iRobot, is a vacuuming robot powered by a full suite of smart sensors to keep your home clean. The sensors automatically guide the device through the house, adapting to the surroundings to thoroughly vacuum the floors. It makes 60 decisions every second, and navigates around furniture and cluttered areas to complete the task of keeping the house dust free.

Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO, said that the Roomba vacuum uses Virtual Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping to learn the dimensions and layout of the room and home.

In the process, the data collected might be useful for the third party smart home product companies to improve their intelligence and performance; companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. Angle said he may look at selling the data in future.

In the interview, Angle told Reuters that he could make a deal to start sharing, through partnerships, the collected home mapping data to a company like Amazon, Google, or Apple within a couple of years.

A report from Reuters says iRobot hopes to get the deal signed with Google, Apple or Amazon within the next couple of years to share the data collected. Roomba seems to be compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod is also on the way. They will be greatly benefited by the data for their smart home assistants.

Though Roomba owners have an option to opt out of cloud-sharing functions within the iRobot Home app, the terms of services and privacy policy allow the company to share the personal information collected without the owner’s consent. It might be in the terms of Service Agreement but, in reality, not many take the time to thoroughly review them.

“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.”

As pointed out by an analyst who covers iRobot for Battle Road Research, customers may find it scary if the company decides to sell the data to third parties.

Angle says iRobot takes the privacy and security of its customers very seriously, and will get customers’ consent before sharing their data with any third party. While saying so, he believes most of them would give their consent in order to access smart home functions and make their experience better.

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