iRobot Wants to Sell Mapping Data Collected by Roomba Vacuums to a Tech Company Like Apple

by

iRobot CEO Colin Angle today told Reuters that he hopes indoor mapping data collected by Roomba automatic vacuum cleaning machines can be sold to a company like Amazon, Apple, or Google in the near future.

iRobot's latest line of 900-series Roomba vacuums use simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology to map rooms while they clean, memorizing room layout and the location of furniture. Angle believes that mapping data collected by the Roomba could be used to make other in-home smart devices like lighting, thermostats, and security cameras smarter.


"There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared," said Angle.

Guy Hoffman, a robotics professor at Cornell University, told Reuters that the kind of spatial mapping technology iRobot can deliver has the potential to be a "major breakthrough" for smart homes.

Right now, smart home devices operate "like a tourist in New York who never leaves the subway," said Hoffman. "There is some information about the city, but the tourist is missing a lot of context for what's happening outside of the stations."

Angle believes that iRobot could reach a deal to sell its maps data to "one or more" of the "Big Three" (Amazon, Apple, and Google) in the next couple of years, but cheaper technology from competing companies and privacy concerns could potentially halt the company's plans. Angle says iRobot will not sell room data without customer permission, but he believes most people will give consent to access smart home functions.

Indoor home mapping has the potential to be valuable to companies like Apple, especially with Apple poised to release its augmented reality platform with iOS 11, but it's unclear if Apple would be interested in or need such data. Functionality built into Apple's own upcoming devices like the iPhone 8 could potentially allow for in-home maps that could bolster smart home devices if rumors of enhanced augmented reality features are true.

Tags: Maps, Roomba

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
38 months ago
I don't have a Roomba but if I did I wouldn't be letting it share a map of my house layout to anyone. I really do like some of my technology to stay stupid.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago
I got to be honest, I don’t think my Roomba keeps a map of my house or has mapped it very well. I once told it to dock right after it started and it took nearly 30 minutes to find the dock.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago
One more brand I don't need in my life. Ethically I have an issue with people attempting to collect data from devices I own to resell to others when it's not for my direct benefit. I returned a smart tv once because once I got it home it said it would monitor what I watched to feed back for advertisers with no way to turn it off. There is no need to know the layout of my house, and a brand needlessly capturing data to regurgitate for profit is something that will stop me from buying the product.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago
Jeeze Louise.... it's not like we couldn't see this coming. It's so annoying. I choose, as an act of my will not to buy iRobot products.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago

Yes they are a little noisy, but you can program it for different times every day. I program it for the same time while I am at work everyday. Then early morning on the weekends. If you have a pet. I don’t have pets, but if you do and it leaves a surprise on the floor I bet this could make a huge mess.

Well, after reading this, I wouldn't buy one if I had a dog. But I got a good chuckle out of it.
https://thenextweb.com/shareables/2016/08/12/a-roomba-tried-to-vacuum-dog-poop-and-its-even-worse-than-you-imagine/#.tnw_a2VYnETW

Here's a link to the direct posting/review:
https://www.facebook.com/jesse.newton.37/posts/776177951574
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago

I got to be honest, I don’t think my Roomba keeps a map of my house or has mapped it very well. I once told it to dock right after it started and it took nearly 30 minutes to find the dock.

I hated our Roomba. It was infuriating watching it randomly zig zag trying to clean a room. It would miss areas and over clean others. So glad we returned it (Costco) and got a Neato. Such a more effecient device. Would never buy a Roomba again. It wasn't even one of the cheaper models, can't remember the model name/number but for sure at a min. the middle tier.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Officially Obsoletes First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display

Wednesday July 1, 2020 3:40 am PDT by
As expected, Apple's first MacBook Pro with a Retina display is now officially classed as "obsolete" worldwide, just over eight years after its release. In a support document, Apple notes that obsolete products are no longer eligible for hardware service, with "no exceptions." This means that any mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch models still out there that require a battery or other...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Models Won't Include Charger in Box, 20W Power Adapter Will Be Sold Separately

Sunday June 28, 2020 7:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 models will not include EarPods or a power adapter in the box, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. This lines up with a prediction shared by analysts at Barclays earlier this week. Kuo said that Apple will instead release a new 20W power adapter as an optional accessory for iPhones and end production of its existing 5W and 18W power adapters...

Rosetta 2 Benchmarks Surface From Mac Mini With A12Z Chip

Monday June 29, 2020 7:48 am PDT by
While the terms and conditions for Apple's new "Developer Transition Kit" forbid developers from running benchmarks on the modified Mac mini with an A12Z chip, it appears that results are beginning to surface anyhow. Image Credit: Radek Pietruszewski Geekbench results uploaded so far suggest that the A12Z-based Mac mini has average single-core and multi-core scores of 811 and 2,781...

Apple's A12Z Under Rosetta Outperforms Microsoft's Native Arm-Based Surface Pro X

Monday June 29, 2020 10:31 am PDT by
Apple's Developer Transition Kit equipped with an A12Z iPad Pro chip began arriving in the hands of developers this morning to help them get their apps ready for Macs running Apple Silicon, and though forbidden, the first thing some developers did was benchmark the machine. Multiple Geekbench results have indicated that the Developer Transition Kit, which is a Mac mini with an iPad Pro chip, ...

New Mac Ransomware Found in Pirated Mac Apps

Tuesday June 30, 2020 11:44 am PDT by
There's a new 'EvilQuest' Mac ransomware variant that's spreading through pirated Mac apps, according to a new report shared today by Malwarebytes. The new ransomware was found in pirated download for the Little Snitch app found on a Russian forum. Right from the point of download, it was clear that something was wrong with the illicit version of Little Snitch, as it had a generic installer...

Developers Begin Receiving Mac Mini With A12Z Chip to Prepare Apps for Apple Silicon Macs

Monday June 29, 2020 5:43 am PDT by
As part of WWDC last week, Apple announced that it will be switching to its own custom-designed processors for Macs starting later this year. As part of this transition, the company is allowing developers to apply for a modified Mac mini with an A12Z chip and 16GB of RAM to develop and test their apps on a Mac with Arm-based architecture. As noted on Twitter and in the MacRumors forums, some...

Kuo: Apple to Launch 10.8-Inch iPad Later This Year, 8.5-Inch iPad Mini in 2021

Sunday June 28, 2020 9:04 am PDT by
Apple plans to launch a new 10.8-inch iPad in the second half of 2020, followed by a new 8.5-inch iPad in the first half of 2021, oft-reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo did not specify if the 10.8-inch iPad model will be a new version of the existing 10.2-inch iPad or the 10.5-inch iPad Air, but he has previously said that the 8.5-inch...

The New York Times Ends Apple News Partnership and Pulls All Articles

Monday June 29, 2020 11:17 am PDT by
The New York Times today announced that it is pulling out of Apple News, as the service does not "align with its strategy of building direct relationships with paying readers." Starting today, articles from The New York Times will no longer show up in the Apple News app. The news site says that Apple has given it "little in the way of direct relationships with readers" and "little control...

'iPhone 12 Pro' Models Could Be Capable of Shooting 4K Video at 120fps and 240fps

Monday June 29, 2020 3:57 am PDT by
Two new camera modes could be coming to some models of Apple's "iPhone 12," according to YouTube channel EverythingApplePro and Max Weinbach. Specifically, the video modes are said to include the ability to shoot 4K video at 120fps and 240fps. The new modes are thought to be coming to Apple's higher-end "iPhone 12 Pro" and "iPhone 12 Pro Max". Weinbach reportedly tore down the Camera app...

Leaker: Future iPhone Models to Come in 'Exquisite' Thinner Box

Wednesday July 1, 2020 1:57 am PDT by
Leaker L0vetodream this morning posted a tweet corroborating recent rumors that Apple's "iPhone 12" lineup won't come with EarPods or a charger in the box, adding that this will also eventually apply to the existing second-generation iPhone SE. L0vetodream also claims that future iPhone packaging will be "thinner" and "exquisite," which would make sense if Apple's handsets are set to come in ...