Amazon buys the Roomba vacuum's company: what does it mean for your privacy?

iRobot is known for introducing the Roomba, one of the best-selling robot vacuums on Amazon, in 2002. Earlier this month, Amazon and iRobot shared they signed a definitive merger agreement under which Amazon will acquire the makers of the Roomba vacuum.

A team of MIT roboticists co-founded iRobot in 1990 and unveiled their first product, Genghis, a robot designed for space exploration, a year later. After pivoting toward detecting and eliminating mines in surf zones with Ariel, iRobot won the DARPA contract to build a tactical mobile robot in 1998. The contract led to the development of the PackBot and its deployment at the World Trade Center in September 2001.

iRobot reached product-market fit with the launch of the Roomba floor vacuuming robot in 2002. Since then, iRobot bolstered its product lines with a series of launches, including the Scooba for floor washing, the Dirt Dog for shop sweeping and the Verro pool cleaning robot. To this day, the award-winning Roomba series of vacuum cleaning robots remains their most profitable achievement.

With the latest acquisition, Amazon keeps expanding its home technology portfolio after acquiring video doorbell firm Ring and text-to-speech technology company IVONA Software, key for developing what is now Amazon Alexa.

Amazon’s access to consumer data raised several concerns regarding collecting and processing personal information for the millions of worldwide Roomba users. In response, Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO and of the MIT technologists who founded the company more than two decades ago, emphasized protecting customer data and privacy is of the utmost importance for iRobot. In a statement, the CEO reassured its customers that iRobot does not and will not sell their personal information.

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