iRobot, the company behind the Roomba smart vacuum, may start selling spatial data obtained by top-end Roomba units' on-board sensors in the near future. Specifically, the firm is looking to sell that data off to big tech firms so that they can use it to cater smart home products to customers' specific home spaces and environment types. While high-end Roombas use sensors and mapping technology to figure out where they are in a given home, what's nearby, and where to go next, Internet of Things devices in other categories boasting the same functionality are decidedly rare for the time being. Whatever the reason for this scarcity may be from company to company and device to device, such as space or cost constraints, there is no denying that such data could prove quite useful in some categories of IoT.
The plan was championed by iRobot CEO Colin Angle, though it was not announced as a definite just yet. Apple, Google, and Amazon were all named as possible customers for such data, should iRobot begin selling it. The sensors in a higher-end Roomba are roughly on par with a Microsoft Kinect, so if iRobot does sell the data, it wouldn't take much for AI software to decode a given home and tweak product experiences around what's there. A smart TV could adjust lighting and contrast according to where lights are in the room, for example, or a smart sound system could adjust for better acoustics depending on where a user puts speakers in the home.
The plan would likely see iRobot raking in a good amount of cash; estimates put the larger IoT market on a growth track showing 60% growth in 2017 alone, and was worth $9.8 billion in 2016. Investors certainly seem keen on the possibility of iRobot selling spatial data for IoT purposes, seeing as the stock has shot up from about $35 a year or so ago all the way to $102 now. Amazon stated that it did not have a comment on the idea or any possibility that it may end up being a customer, while Google and Apple opted to simply stay silent on the issue.