Could Roomba Become the Ultimate Spy?


We’ve heard the stories. Amazon’s Alexa laughs uncontrollably in the middle of the night. She records bits of conversations that are heard around the house. And who knows who might be listening to those devices?

Now, Amazon has spent $1.7 billion to acquire iRobot, the robotic vacuum cleaner that has made it easier to handle household chores.

Amazon owning the Roomba could make them better. They’ll have the money to pour into research and development, making the chore of cleaning the home even easier.

There is cause for concern, though. First of all, Amazon is buying up everything, which means that there’s less competition in the market. Second, there’s the talk of privacy issues.

Echo speakers have already been suspected of listening in on conversations. Roomba could end up being a moving spy inside of homes.

Worried? Experts say that you have a right to be.

Amazon already knows what you’re reading because it is seeing your Kindle reading list. It knows what TV shows you’re watching because of Amazon TV. And it knows what your search history is online so that it can recommend products to you when you are ready to shop.

With Roomba vacuum cleaners about to fall into the Amazon network, it will suddenly know the floor plan of your home.

How much information should one company be allowed to have? Amazon will know more about you than even your closest family and friends. It will know all of your deepest, darkest secrets, including how dirty your floors are.

Amazon hasn’t exactly been particularly good about handling user data, either. So, there’s no telling what kind of sensitive information collected by your Roomba could fall into the wrong hands.

DigitalTrends reported that Amazon will be able to give a boost to Roomba with its e-commerce platform – and potentially lock in some Prime membership benefits down the road.

Amazon is also no stranger to robotics. It already has Proteus, which is an autonomous robot used in warehouses, capable of moving packages without the help of humans.

Amazon has a robotics manufacturing facility already established – and it’s only about 30 miles from the headquarters of iRobot.

Ken Washington, the VP of Consumer Robotics at Amazon reported that “this new consumer robotics software development center will help support our growing consumer robotics division.”

We already buy so much from Amazon. And many of us have the Roomba or another robotic vacuum to lessen the workload in our homes. With Amazon working on its robotics game, there’s no telling what we could own in our homes in the near future.

Robotic chefs to cook us dinner? Robotic toilet bowl cleaners? The possibilities are endless.

And while we may be tempted to buy all of these to save us time, how much more information are we going to allow Amazon to collect on us?

DigitalTrends reported that “Judging by Amazon’s moves in the past few quarters, it is quite evident that the company is getting serious about making robots beep-bop around your living room, not just warehouses. Amazon has all the resources in the world to do just that, and iRobot sounds like a natural target for Amazon to poach as it aims for more space in your personal life.”

With Amazon’s love for ad targeting, it will likely use some of the information collected in your home to feed you ads so that you’ll buy more.

The conspiracy theorists are hard at work about what could happen with Smart Map data being collected.

As to whether you have to be concerned…maybe. Perhaps you should be optimistically cautious.