Google and iRobot announced a new partnership today, where the two would be sharing Roomba’s maps of your home, to help make it easier to setup and connect, new connected devices. According to the press release that the two companies put out today, the two are going to find more ways to link Google Assistant and Roomba together, which would include a map-based spatial awareness that would simplify home setup. Unfortunately, the two companies are not being all that specific with what they mean, for this new partnership, iRobot did say that it could help properly locate smart home devices. This includes being able to pinpoint where your lights are, and in the future a robot could know where to get a beer from, since it knows where the refrigerator is.
Of course, a big issue with this new partnership is going to be privacy. Seeing as Google does collect a ton of data on everyone and uses it to target ads to the user, and sell ads as well. But iRobot emphasized that would not be happening here. And the company also emphasized that the sharing of data is strictly optional. But the company did not mention whether the sharing of data was going to be opt-in or opt-out. It would be much better for iRobot and its customers, if this were an opt-in thing rather than an opt-out, seeing as some people may not know that their Roomba is mapping their home and sending the data to Google. Finally, iRobot said that any collaboration would be limited to smart home tech, between iRobot and Google, for the near future.
Background: iRobot is one of the biggest robot makers out there. While many know iRobot for its Roomba robot vacuums, it does actually make other robots like mopping robots and window cleaning robots. What’s different between iRobot’s robot vacuums and some of the others on the market, is the fact that Roomba does actually map out your home. The reason for this is so that it doesn’t miss a spot. It is able to vacuum your entire home, without missing any areas, and it also knows where the stairs are, where walls, and furniture are and much more. Now there was some news a while back about iRobot selling these maps to other companies for ads. But that turned out not to be the case. So it’s not surprising that iRobot announced this partnership with Google, so its customers do know the two are working together.
Impact: This is definitely going to impact iRobot users, and in the short-term, it likely won’t make a difference. But those that do not want a map of their home shared with Google are going to want to make sure that data sharing is turned off. But in the long-term, this could turn out to be a pretty interesting feature for Google and iRobot and allow the smart home to really become just a bit more connected. Since things like Google Assistant will know where it is, and how close to the refrigerator or your lights, it really is.