This comic from Jeff Lofvers at Don’t Hit Save is no joke. Beginning in 2015, Roombas have been sold with cameras and mapping technology. Your Roomba has been gathering information about your home, mapping out the shape and size of your rooms and the objects in them. This data could be more valuable to Roomba maker iRobot Corp than the sales of its vacuum cleaner. Gizmodo offers some ideas of how the data could be used.
If a company like Amazon, for example, wanted to improve its Echo smart speaker, the Roomba’s mapping info could certainly help out. Spatial mapping could improve audio performance by taking advantage of the room’s acoustics. Do you have a large room that’s practically empty? Targeted furniture ads might be quite effective. The laser and camera sensors would paint a nice portrait for lighting needs that would factor into smart lights that adjust in real time. Smart AC units could better control airflow. And additional sensors added in the future would gather even more data from this live-in double agent.
No matter how useful the data is, it gives one pause to realize that your vacuum cleaner knows so much about your private space. I am now glad that I opted for wood floors instead of a robotic vacuum cleaner for the carpets, even though it means my cats will never have free Roomba rides.