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.

roomba980
"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

GrumpyMom Avatar
47 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)
TheAppleFairy Avatar
47 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)
krewger Avatar
47 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)
Urban Joe Avatar
47 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)
jermwhl Avatar
47 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)
Szarky Avatar
47 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

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh rate, including display industry analyst Ross Young, leakers ...
unc0ver version 6 release

Jailbreak Tool 'unc0ver' 6.0.0 Released With iOS 14.3 Compatibility

Sunday February 28, 2021 9:26 am PST by
The team behind the "unc0ver" jailbreaking tool for iOS has released version 6.0.0 of its software, which can allegedly be used to jailbreak any device running iOS 11.0 through iOS 14.3 using a kernel vulnerability. The unc0ver website describes how the tool has been extensively tested across a range of iOS devices running various software versions, including an iPhone 12 Pro Max running iOS ...