Roombas are mapping people’s homes while cleaning the floor.
Roombas, the small robotic vacuum cleaners, were made to help people reduce the amount of housework. However, iRobot, the company that makes Roomba, made their two latest models, 960 and 980, able to map out the floor plan of the home. Most people thought this was so the robot could function around the rooms better, so it would bump into fewer objects and accomplish a better vacuuming job.
However, Colin Angel, who is the CEO of iRobot, said that the company has access to all of the maps and plans on selling the maps to other companies, such as Google and Amazon. iRobot later came out saying that their CEO misspoke, and that the company has no intention of “selling” the mapping data. They also said that they are wanting to provide the data, with the consent of customers, to other companies to help improve smart homes and devices.
What may be true is that they are not going to “sell” the data. But how are they going to get the consent of customers? Will it be in the long agreement that everyone has to approve before using? If so, hardly any body reads that, including me, and then the company has “your permission” to give out the mapping data of your house.
iRobot has not said specifically how they are going to ask permission. To me, that seems a little sketchy. Also, why does iRobot need to map out your house, store it in their data base, and “give” it to other companies to help smart technology? To me, that does not make a lot of sense. I do not understand how a map of someone’s home could possibly help companies improve smart technology.
Another issue I have with this is how do we know who the company is giving the information to? Will the company give the data to the government? iRobot saying they are wanting the information to help smart technology could just be a ploy for helping the government spy on us.
Will this mapping data just end up as more ads for us? Everyone already knows that cookies remember what you search and then puts ads on Facebook and other social media sites that go hand in hand with what was searched. Will furniture companies be able to gain the mapping data, and then contact customers in order to try to upgrade furniture?
Other questions that are valid are what happens if iRobot’s data base gets hacked? Then that hacker has maps of many houses. Will that hacker then use it to rob a house?
On a positive note, could this data help people if their house burns down? Would finance companies give them more money if they could get the mapping layout for that house? What if that house is sold? Will iRobot delete the map of that house if the new owners don’t want to consent?
Because Roomba maps out each room, does the company know what room your children sleep in by the room where it bumps into the most toys?
What iRobot is doing could be a catastrophe and could hurt individuals. Not to mention that the house map storing feature has “sketchy” written all over it, especially since it sounds like the Roomba models 960 and 980 have already been mapping customer’s houses without notice or the permission of customers.
Is iRobot making a robot that is helping with house chores, or is it a robot to spy on us? Personally, I believe it’s more of a spying tool, a way for the company to make more money for themselves, and they are just telling us that it will help with the smart home technology.