Google and iRobot are teaming up to smarten up your home with Roomba maps

Your Roomba's map of your home is getting more valuable

Google and iRobot are teaming up
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iRobot recently debuted its new smart home mapping tech with the Roomba i7+, and it's wasting no time in using that technology to do more than vacuum up your home.

The robot vacuum company has announced a new collaboration with Google to use the spatial maps created by Roombas to provide "innovative smart home experiences." To figure out what that means, we gotta back up for a bit.

Read this: How to look after your robot vacuum

iRobot's mapping tech combines the distance your Roomba moves in your home with low-resolution camera imagery to learn your abode's layout. It can do multiple rooms and floors, and then lets you go over and edit your map in the companion app, setting room boundaries and names.

That lets you send your Roomba to clean specific rooms, and you can even use Alexa or Google Assistant with simple commands like "clean the bedroom" or "clean the kitchen." In our tests, we found it to work pretty seamlessly, and it learned the layout of our home in two cleaning runs.

Google and iRobot want to use the layout of your home to do things like making smart homes simpler to set up, as well as providing "more intuitive and personal experiences" in people's homes.

In an interview with The Verge, iRobot CEO Colin Angle says this could include identifying what smart lights you have in what rooms. That way, you wouldn't have to setup rooms and assign lights to certain rooms in an app. Your Roomba would identify where everything is and Google would set it up automatically for you.

Even further, Michele Turner, Google's director of smart home ecosystem, says the goal is to create a more "thoughtful" smart home that adapts to the wants and needs of users with far less input.

Having Google and iRobot spatially map out your home and use it for something other than vacuuming does ring privacy alarm bells. After all, Google recently got caught not disclosing a flaw in Google+ that exposed the information of 500,000 users.

For it's part, Google and iRobot say that this experience would be entirely optional, and that users would have to opt in to whatever they have cooked up. Similarly, Turner says none of the spatial data will not be used to power Google's ad business. It's also worth noting that iRobot's spatial maps are uploaded to the company's servers, but the low-res images stay on your Roomba.


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TAGGED    google    robot vacuum cleaners

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