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iRobot CEO insists company won't sell Roomba home data [u]

Despite a report suggesting the contrary, iRobot is not planning to sell data from 900 Series Roombas to companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon, CEO Colin Angle said in a statement published on Friday.

"First things first, iRobot will never sell your data," Angle wrote in response to questions from ZDNet. "Information that is shared needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit. That is how data is handled by iRobot today. Customers have control over sharing it. I want to make very clear that this is how data will be handled in the future," he said later in the statement.

A PR representative claimed that the earlier report was a "misinterpretation" of Angle's statements.

"Colin never said that iRobot would look to sell customer maps or data to other companies," the person said. "iRobot has not had any conversations with other companies about data transactions, and iRobot will not sell customer data."

On the information the 900 Series collects, the representative said that vSLAM mapping and navigation data stays on the robot, and any images used aren't uploaded to the cloud. Maps and usage data may be uploaded, but only for use in the iRobot Home app.

"It's also important to point out that the camera doesn't see things like we do," iRobot said. "The robot perceives its environment as a pattern of light and dark points in its field of view. This pattern enables the Roomba 900 Series to localize or confirm its position on the map, so it can clean an entire level of a home. The camera is a low-resolution camera that is tracking multiple points of a room, such as along the edges of a table or light and dark contrasts of a window on a wall. It uses these points of reference to continually build and update its map of rooms within a home."

The earlier story raised fears that companies like iRobot might sell maps of people's homes to other businesses, whether for software and services, or to recommend more products.

Update: iRobot sent the following statement to AppleInsider:

iRobot does not sell data customer data. Our customers always come first. We will never violate our customer's trust by selling or misusing customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products. Right now, the data Roomba collects enables it to effectively clean the home and provides customers with information about cleaning performance. iRobot believes that in the future, this information could provide even more value for our customers by enabling the smart home and the devices within it to work better, but always with their explicit consent.