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Amazon wants to map your home, so it bought iRobot - The Verge

Amazon’s $1.7 billion purchase of robot vacuum manufacturer iRobot may be about better understanding your home.

When I spoke to iRobot’s Colin Angle earlier this summer, he said iRobot OS — the latest software operating system for its robot vacuums and mops — would provide its household bots with a deeper understanding of your home and your habits. This takes on a whole new meaning with the news today that Amazon has bought iRobot for $1.7 billion.

From a smart home perspective, it seems clear Amazon wants iRobot for the maps it generates to give it that deep understanding of our homes. The vacuum company has detailed knowledge of our floor plans and, crucially, how they change. It knows where your kitchen is, which your kids’ rooms are, where your sofa is (and how new it is), and if you recently turned the guest room into a nursery.

This type of data is digital gold to a company whose primary purpose is to sell you more stuff. While I’m interested to see how Amazon can leverage iRobot’s tech to improve its smart home ambitions, many are right to be concerned with the privacy implications. People want home automation to work better, but they don’t want to give up the intimate details of their lives for more convenience.

This is a conundrum throughout the tech world, but in our homes, it’s far more personal. Amazon’s history of sharing data with police departments through its subsidiary Ring, combined with its “always listening (for the wake word)” Echo smart speakers and now its thorough knowledge of your floor plan, give it a pretty complete picture of your daily life.

The Roomba j7 has a front-facing, AI-powered camera that can identify objects in your home.

Each of iRobot’s connected Roomba vacuums and mops trundles around homes multiple times a week, mapping and remapping the spaces. On its latest model, the j7, iRobot added a front-facing, AI-powered camera that, according to Angle, has detected more than 43 million objects in people’s homes. Other models have a low-resolution camera that points at the ceiling for navigation.

Post ID: 6ab41964-6182-405c-b6b2-8bc2f13c6cb6
Rating: 1
Updated: 21 hours ago
New York, New York

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