Roombas and iRobots are modern gadgets to help clean your house, but are they collecting data that could be sold to major companies?
Many iRobots collect data about your house as they work, like where furniture and walls are located in the building. This is to help the Roomba learn the best ways to clean your house without bumping into the couch, for example.
"Over time the robot becomes smarter and knows which places it needs to clean up more around your home," said Henrik Christensen, director of the Contextual Robotics Institute and a professor of computer science at University of California, San Diego.
Newer Roombas, like 960 and 980 models, which have iRobot’s latest mapping technology have the ability to collect this data and map your house.
(If you do have a model with built-in Wi-Fi, such as the 690 or 890, it doesn’t have the ability to create a floor plan of your home like the 900 series.)
However, for the models that do have the ability to map, some robotics experts are concerned this can then be sold it to companies like Amazon, Apple or Google to use for advertising.
The company’s CEO, Colin Angle, said in an interview with Reuter’s that he is considering selling the data in the next couple years.
The implications of this are endless, according to Christensen.
For example, if the Roomba detects you don't have a chair in your living room, you could soon see one advertised in your newsfeed.
"We've already allowed Amazon into our homes with Alexa, and that has eight microphones in it," added Christensen.
Christensen said that whether the Roomba actually needs your permission to sell your data is still a gray area in the field of robotics.
"You haven't signed an agreement that lets them sell your data in the case of the Roomba," said Christensen. "On the other hand, they can say, 'well we never asked for it.'"