Sweeping up more than just dirt: Is your Roomba spying on you? - KCTV5 News

Sweeping up more than just dirt: Is your Roomba spying on you?

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The Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners represent 20-percent of the high-end vacuum cleaning market (for vacuums costing more than $200). Though, its future may lie more in collecting data than dirt. (KCTV5) The Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners represent 20-percent of the high-end vacuum cleaning market (for vacuums costing more than $200). Though, its future may lie more in collecting data than dirt. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Noelle Davis loves her Roomba. With kids and pets, she said it makes her life easier.

“It’s very handy, very convenient to have,” she said.

The robotic vacuum uses sensors to change direction.

Davis’s WiFi-connected model even connects to her Alexa device, making the chore even simpler.

“It’s super convenient to be able to say “Alexa clean my house”, and have my Roomba start to clean,” Davis said.

The Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners represent 20-percent of the high-end vacuum cleaning market (for vacuums costing more than $200).

Though, its future may lie more in collecting data than dirt.

iRobot has updated its Roomba to a Roomba 980, which adds vision and mapping to the robot vacuum cleaner. Its camera captures images of a room, and gradually builds a map of its surroundings collecting data as they clean.

Essentially, it creates a blueprint of the inside of your home that could eventually be shared.

“Consumers need to be aware of these features and aware of the possibilities that can happen with those features installed on their devices,” said technology expert Burton Kelso.

Kelso said it’s just one more “smart device” that is collecting information about you.

“That will target you with ads that are geared towards your lifestyle or your house size. But at this base, it’s really designed to help the Roomba do a better job of vacuuming,” Kelso said.

iRobot is conscious of the security and privacy concerns that the new camera and connectivity may introduce.

“Right now, the information Roomba collects enables it to effectively clean the home and provides customers with information about cleaning performances. iRobot believes that in the future, this information could provide even more value for our customers by enabling the smart home and the devices within it to work better, but always with their explicit consent,” said a representative from iRobot.

Consumers can use a Roomba without connecting it to the Internet or opt out of sending map data to the cloud through a switch in the mobile app. But if you pass it up, you’ll lose the ability to remotely activate the Roomba and other features.

Davis said she’s aware her information could be shared. It is a concern every time the Roomba sweeps her floors.

“I don’t know the balance between being concerned and knowing this is the way that we’re headed,” Davis said.

A representative for iRobot explained that the maps are not transmitted from the Roomba, and they are deleted after the robot finishes cleaning a room. He also mentioned images used for navigation do not leave the robot.

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