Google to partner with iRobot to leverage Roomba's mapping for smarter homes

Google emphasises that the info wouldn't be used for ad targetting or other existing services.

Google Maps is by far one of the most extensively used services for mapping the world outside us but the tech giant is also trying to do the same indoors. Partnering with iRobot, Google is planning to use the Roomba's home mapping capabilities for more than just cleaning houses effectively.

For the uninitiated, iRobot’s Roomba i7+ is the latest generation of their vacuuming robot that can map its surroundings to avoid obstacles. As per iRobot's website, the vacuum cleaner uses visual landmarks to track where it has been and where it should go next to clean. This allows the Roomba to learn rooms and the way they are made and with Google Assistant built in, you can even direct it where to clean next.

 Google to partner with iRobot to leverage Roombas mapping for smarter homes

Roomba i7+ robot vacuum cleaner. Image: iRobot

Google now wants to partner with iRobot to leverage this ability of the Roomba to enhance smart home setups in the future.

Head of iRobot, Colin Angle, in an interview with The Verge said that the convergence in technology could help locate smart home devices. The collected data can then be used to shout out orders to robots. Both companies have decided to stay quiet on other use case scenarios for the time being. The collected data here, however, will only be limited to floor-plans and not go on to 3D spatial scanning territory, Google clarifies.

Google’s director of the company’s smart home ecosystem, Michelle Turner, tells The Verge that the goal of this partnership is not just to create a smart home, but a “thoughtful home” that requires less input from users and adapts to their wants and needs.

Turner also stressed that information shared by iRobot would not be used in targeting ads to fuel Google's business. "This data doesn’t help current Google products. It is not getting fed into some larger morass of Google information,” she says.

More importantly, Turner also clarifies that sharing floor-plan information is also completely voluntary and that it will be done only with prior permission from the Roomba user.

The idea of Google using user data will be justifiably unsettling to some. Although Google doesn’t have as bad of a reputation for data leaks and breaches as Facebook, it has had a number of serious lapses lately.

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