June 5, 2023

Amazon Buys Roomba Maker to Suck Up Your Dirt (and Your Data)


Tech and e-commerce giant Amazon has reportedly purchased iRobot, the maker of the popular automated home vacuum Roomba, for $1.7 billion. Jeff Bezos’ company is likely just as interested in the ability to map customers’ homes as it is in adding vacuums to its growing empire of products and services.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon has purchased the maker of the popular robot vacuum cleaner Roomba, iRobot Corp, in a deal worth $1.7 billion. As a result, Amazon will now be making money selling the popular vacuum cleaners, but Bloomberg notes that the real value of the robots for Amazon is not increased profit, but access to a map of users’ homes.

Roomba by iRobot, which has stated they may sell maps of users' homes

Roomba by iRobot (Tod Kurt/Flickr)

ROMEOVILLE, IL - AUGUST src1: Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 75src,srcsrcsrc-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2src17 in Romeoville, Illinois. On August 2, Amazon will be holding job fairs at several fulfillment centers around the country, including the Romeoville facility, in an attempt to hire more than 5src,srcsrcsrc workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Roombas use internal sensors to map and track users’ homes in order to vacuum hard-to-reach corners, this is data that could be valuable to Amazon in the future. Smart homes have been a priority for Amazon for some time, with their popular Alexa and Echo devices becoming a staple in many American homes. Amazon’s Echo speakers outsell those made by rivals Apple and Google, with an estimated 9.9 million units sold in the three months through March.

Breitbart News reported on iRobot’s plan to turn maps of Roomba owners’ homes into cash in 2017.

[iRobot CEO] Angle recently told Reuters that some of the advanced Roomba devices use situational awareness to make a mental map of the space around them and then saves that information for future use. Angle believes that he could now sell this data to one of the big three tech companies, Apple, Google or Facebook, within the next few years.

Angle’s comments have been well received amongst investors with iRobot stock reaching $102 in June, up from $35 a year ago, giving it a market value of nearly $2.5 billion on 2016 revenues of $660 million. Willem Mesdag, a managing partner of hedge fund Red Mountain Capital who previously sold his stock in iRobot, believes that the company’s new direction may be a profitable one.

Mesdag seems to believe that an acquisition of iRobot by one of the three big tech companies would be extremely beneficial for them saying, “I think they have a tremendous first-mover advantage. The competition is focused on making cleaning products, not a mapping robot.” Consumer rights advocates have, however, expressed their concern at the floor plans of users homes being sold to large tech companies.

Amazon’s household robot, Astro, is still not readily available. The robot could also track and map the inside of a user’s home, but that task will now fall on the Roomba devices that Amazon now owns. The maps provide huge amounts of data to marketers such as the size of a person’s house which can indicate their wealth. Floors with many children’s toys will imply that they have kids, and a household without much furniture is one that may be easily sold new furniture items.

Apple has previously talked about wanting to map users’ homes, unveiling a tool in June for the next release of iOS that uses a laser scanner on the latest iPhones to build 3-D models titled “RoomPlan.”

Read more at Bloomberg here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan

This post originally appeared on and written by:
Breitbart News 2022-08-08 18:36:00