Robotic vacuum raising privacy concerns

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Technology designed to make our lives easier may come with a huge trade-off.

That risk is behind a growing concern with a new, robotic vacuum some homeowners are using to help out with cleaning.

The Roomba uses sensors to change direction, allowing its owners to come home to a clean floor.

But now, I-Robot, the company that makes it, has updated the cleaning device to capture, compare and combine images of multiple rooms, ultimately building a map of the house it operates in.

Eventually, the company has plans to sell that data, and buyers, including Amazon, Apple and Google are lining up.

But the prospect of selling that information is raising privacy concerns.

“The Roomba of tomorrow might be able to scan what furniture you own and figure out the income of your home or your TV watching habits,” Jamie Lee Williams of Electronic Frontier Foundation said.

While the jury is still out for some users, I-Robot acknowledges the potential privacy concerns and says the unit will always ask permission to store customers’ map data.

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