Amazon.com Inc.’s $1.7 billion acquisition of robot vacuum cleaner company iRobot Corp. is a move by the megacorporation to use Roombas to map the interior of homes. This data type is a digital gold mine for Amazon because if marketers know more about what’s inside, they can easily create tailormade ads.
From a market perspective, Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot is to gain deeper insight into customers’ homes via the autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner called “Roomba.”
The latest model of the Roomba, called J7, has a front-facing, AI-powered camera that maps out each room and will identify nearly everything in its path, such as floor plans, where the kitchen is, which space is the master bedroom, and where the kids sleep, as well as items on the floor.
“Slightly more terrifying, the maps also represent a wealth of data for marketers. The size of your house is a pretty good proxy for your wealth. A floor covered in toys means you likely have kids. A household without much furniture is a household to which you can try to sell more furniture. This is all useful intel for a company such as Amazon which, you may have noticed, is in the business of selling stuff,” Bloomberg said.
Roomba’s surveillance from within the home is pure digital gold, as Amazon’s ambition to learn more about the customer will allow marketers to sell more junk.
Sorry if this seems overly alarmist but it does make me pause given how much modern Roomba competitors actually know about your house! The new Roborock vacuums can recognize furniture and even stuff you leave on the ground! I really wouldn’t want Amazon knowing that? pic.twitter.com/eWQf2YWaMj
— Owen Williams ⚡ (@ow) August 5, 2022
Vice News said, “leaked documents acquired by Motherboard revealed that one of the goals of Astro [Amazon’s robot] was to create a robot that intelligently plotted out the interior of a user’s homes, even creating heat maps of highly trafficked areas.”
Amazon customers haven’t received Astro well for privacy reasons, and the same could happen with robot vacuums following the acquisition. Some on Twitter are already calling the Amazon/iRobot deal “pure dystopia.”