Google has partnered with iRobot to integrate their floor plan-mapping technologies into larger smart home systems.
Utilizing iRobot’s home maps would allow for easier smart home integrations and more home automations. Google wants to use the maps that the Roomba creates to help locate connected devices. In the future, these maps could lay the foundation for more advanced robots programmed to retrieve items around the house for their user.
“This idea is that when you say, ‘OK Google, turn the lights on in the kitchen,’ you need to know what lights are in the kitchen. And if I say, ‘OK future iRobot robot with an arm, go get me a beer,’ it needs to know where the kitchen and the refrigerator are”
said iRobot CEO Colin Angle in an interview with The Verge.
iRobot’s latest vacuum, the Roomba i7, uses odometry data (gained from measuring how far the vacuum’s wheels move) and low-res camera imagery to create maps of homes. These maps allow users to have the vacuums clean specific areas of their homes. While the maps are sent to iRobot’s servers, the low-res images remain on the device.
Already, users can tell their vacuums to clean through Google Assistant, but Google does not receive any information about a house’s layout. In contrast, it works by learning the names that the users have assigned to areas of their homes.
Given Google’s past security issues, they would like to emphasize that sharing home map data is voluntary. Concurrently, the data will be not be used to inform targeted ad campaigns. Google’s goal is to create a more “thoughtful home” that requires less user input, according to Michele Chambers Turner, senior director of Google’s smart home ecosystem. “We’re excited to be exploring with iRobot how its unique spatial awareness technology can work with the Assistant to offer customers a more intuitive and personalized experience in their homes.”