Amazon wants to map your home, so it bought iRobot – The Verge
Amazon announced on Friday that it had agreed to buy vacuum cleaner manufacturer iRobot for an estimated $1.7 billion. The move is part of Amazon’s push to own part of the home through services and may help the company repeat the success of its Echo smart speaker lineup.
Amazon said it would buy iRobot for $61 a share in an all-cash deal and that the company would continue to be run by Colin Angle. The purchase is subject to approval by shareholders and regulatory authorities.
Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, called on regulators to block Amazon’s merger with iRobot, saying it gives Amazon greater access into consumers’ lives and increases its dominance of the smart home market.
The landmark antitrust legislation targeting Amazon and other big tech companies has languished in Congress for months, with prospects of passage fading.
iRobot was founded by a trio of roboticists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It produced the first Roomba in 2002 and has since introduced several other robots, including the Braava robot mop.
Amazon is a corporation that sells almost anything you can think of. Some people claim that this is indirectly skirting laws, but these transactions are actually perfectly legal.
Amazon has been criticized for counterfeit goods sold on Amazon. Still, another problem we think has far more significant implications: Amazon’s control over electronic devices it manufactures and the software and services offered on those devices allows the company to act with very little transparency.
Amazon collects data on users’ conversations and interactions on Echo devices, but its collection method has bugs that could jeopardize users’ privacy.
Amazon processes the vast majority of information transmitted on the Internet and uses that data to power its AI systems, power its marketing decisions, and enhance its services. Amazon also collects data from its devices, including the Amazon Fire HD tablet.
The Fire tablets are being sold to children, and the Kids edition has parental controls that may help prevent your child from visiting unscrupulous websites.
The Echo devices in homes across America are highly surreptitious, with cameras and microphones always taking data on the environment around them. Alexa accidentally picks up the trigger phrase and records it without users knowing.
Amazon is continually developing its AI systems, and employees may listen to user recordings to enhance the system’s voice recognition capabilities. There are systems in place to help isolate recordings from identifiable information about any given user, but consumers are still worried that Amazon will share information with a third party.
Amazon tends to push the boundaries of what is legitimate while positioning itself to benefit from the enforcement. The government is using facial recognition technology to enforce immigration laws, and there have been talks of selling surveillance as a service.
Amazon has become the master at using data to optimize its customer experience, but many people are concerned about protecting their data. Avoiding tracking by not using Internet-connected devices is possible, but many people’s jobs depend on those tools.
For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:
- Amazon wants to map your home, so it bought iRobot The Verge
- Amazon to acquire maker of Roomba vacuums for roughly $1.7 billion CNBC
- Amazon to buy Roomba-maker iRobot for $1.7 billion CNBC Television
- Amazon to acquire Roomba robot vacuum maker iRobot for $1.7 billion The Verge
- What Cramer is watching Friday — jobs blowout, Amazon buys Roomba-maker, AMC rewards APEs CNBC