Roomba wants to sell the maps of the inside of your home it created while cleaning

A tinfoil hat?

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If you want to make it really easy, get one of the old-fashioned vacuum cleaners. They’re much taller, so you can use them while standing up. I imagine it’s somewhat uncomfortable pushing around a 3 inch high model.


Watch Irobot get data back from the Roomba purchased by an elderly couple who croaked later on. The floorplan will show body outlines.

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I get the privacy aspect, and I certainly would want to be notified that they were doing it, but I can’t really see why people are so upset about this.

Zillow knows how big my house is and how many bedrooms I’ve got. And I would imagine just knowing whether I use a Roomba or not is valuable enough information, to know that I’m probably a sucker for tech gizmos.

I imagine they use it to update software for more efficient cleaning algorithms. Or maybe they use some central server to actually do the processing instead of equipping each device with the computing power required to calculate the best ways to clean the floor or something. I’m pretty sure my Tivo uploads my thumbs up preferences and they calculate the shows it records on it’s own.

What if you got actual benefits, like a set of smart speakers for your stereo or television, that automatically shaped the audio based on the room and the furniture in it, thanks to the data your vacuum cleaner collected?

But if it doesn’t call back to the mothership, how can the company that makes it properly monetize their product?

Remember, making gadgets and selling them for more than it costs to make them is so old school, so retro, so boringly unprofitable, so out of fashion. It’s far more hip and up to the minute, far more popular with the VC crowd, to figure out how to make customers sign up for an annual subscription, or else figure out how to learn everything there is to know about them and then sell that information to the highest bidder.

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I’ll grant the TiVo because it’s intrinsically a communications node; distribution of updates can however be handled in a host of ways that don’t make the device require a network connection to perform its essential functions.

Actually, any speaker system capable of shaping the audio output to match a room needs more than the vacuum can possible collect [1]. The actual shaping process is so real-time that it involves having a pretty capable DSP system in the speakers, and from there deriving the filter coefficients can be done locally with the available resources.

Not that there can’t possibly be any examples, but that isn’t one. Nor can I imagine one, and I spent 40+ years in the electronics design world and have the patents to show for it. However, because engineers are by profession pessimists I can easily list lots of ways that putting a network connection into essential functions will not end well.

[1] e.g. spectral reflectance of the sofa back and the preferred listening positions. Yeah, I’ve been there.

Wouldn’t a better way to calibrate the speakers to the room be to use a phone app that connects to the speakers and plays sounds while it listens from your favorite chair?

You know, every time you post on BB they record what you type - even if you change that text, it well have been sent to them. What do they pay your for that data?

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As with the rest of the spying done by tech companies, they don’t sell the data just to advertisers.

They’ll sell it to anyone willing to pay; cops, intelligence agencies, insurance companies, your boss, the Klan, your psycho ex…


It could make a map while doing that. Just like a google street view car driving at random through a city.

As a microbiologist, that’s what I love about Roombas – they are basically following the “run and tumble” strategy that bacteria use – which is actually the best way to cover an area by an unintelligent agent. Although bacteria generally don’t get caught on chairs with circular ring bases, I guess.

That is a good question, but you miss an important point. In late-stage capitalism, one does not make money by selling something to actual buyers. One makes money by increasing the value of the shares. With “big data” being a fad at present, I expect the value of the shares to increase just on the announcement that robotic vacuum cleaners can tap a new source of data.

Eventually, the shareholders will realise that this data is of little value and the value will crash, of course. But, by that time, the people who devised this scheme will be retired on an island with tax evasion status.

I haven’t read Charmin’s Terms of Service, but I hope I didn’t agree for them to tell Amazon every time I take a shit so that they can market “experiences” to me.

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What if you live on an abstract plein.


This Is the real and correct answer. iRobot needs to account for these things when making the next generation mobile throne for our feline overlords.

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I’m gonna shuffle around all my furniture just to stick it to the man!

Before her health declined that’s something me and mom would do basically every three weeks or month or so. Helped keep dust from getting too bad.


I regret to inform you that your assumptions considering my height are way off.

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[insert flatland reference here]?