iRobot recently made a clarification that sharing of home floor plan data is not for commercial reason, but for user experience improvement purpose, and that user consent is required before any sharing.
The company behind Roomba vacuum, iRobot, last week raised privacy concern for selling home mapping data to third-party service providers. A few days after the subject became more controversial, the company’s CEO stepped up to make a clarification.
“First things first, iRobot will never sell your data,” said the chief executive Colin Angle. The company still plans to share mapping data with third-party players to improve smart home experiences with Roomba. Angle further explained that it won’t do it for the money.
In addition, iRobot won’t share users’ data without their permission. Users may opt in advanced features that iRobot developed with other companies. However, these features require input of user data. In other words, it is up to the user if they want to share data and get the new features.
To ensure privacy, Roomba by default only uploads usage data, such as how long it cleaned, how far it travelled and if it was functioning correctly. The information is then sent to users’ mobile devices. Images used for navigation and house mapping data are not sent to the cloud and are saved in the device locally.
Smart vacuum at home actually knows very much about the user’s home, such as the floor plan of the house, the basic shape of objects on the floor, what areas requires cleaning and the frequency of cleaning needs.
In the first interview with Reuters, Angle said the company might sell maps of users’ homes to third-party companies working on smart home devices and services in the coming years.
The mapping data collected by Roomba robotic vacuum may help other smart devices, like smart lighting, thermostat and security camera, obtain a better understanding of the home environment.
For example, if Amazon’s Alexa knows the physical environment of the home, and the room’s acoustics, the smart speaker may be able to improve its audio performance. With knowledge of the interior design, smart AC unit may better control the airflow while smart lamps could optimize the lighting effects to create the desired atmosphere.
Selling these data to other smart home companies might create new revenue streams for the company, but Angle denied such possibilities.