A Roomba robot vacuum will soon be able to map the Wi-Fi coverage in your home. It’s an official feature that makes an existing hack a little easier to use.
The idea itself isn’t particularly new as a few folk had figured out it’s a slightly more efficient way to track coverage around a home without the hassle of running a signal measuring app and then painstakingly walking round every corner of the home yourself. Roomba is simply taking away the need to create a custom app (combining location and signal monitoring) and fix a phone to the cleaner.
To start with the feature will only be available on the Roomba 900 series as part of an application-only beta program.
There is a catch however: Roomba’s chief executive has previously said the company is looking at selling data collected from the cleaners to major tech firms. This would apply to all models, not just those running the Wi-Fi tracker.
It’s definitely a case of the technology being neutral and the usage anything but. On the upside, Roomba is stressing the benefits if, for example, smart home speakers could tell you the best place to put them, or air conditioning and lighting could adjust to specific room layouts.
On the downside, there’s clearly room for targeted marketing if a company has a rough idea of, for example, what furniture you do and don’t already have. To its credit, Roomba insists selling customer data will only work on an opt-in basis.