Amazon will soon be able to map all of its users’ homes as part of creating a fully functional smart home.
As part of the tech giant’s acquisition of iRobot, the maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners, for $1.7 billion, Amazon will control its new Robot operating system – giving the company access to detailed maps of people’s homes, which could be used to gather even more data about each user.
The operating system already works in conjunction with a front camera on Roomba j7 vacuums to map a home’s layout and avoid over 80 common objects like shoes, socks, cords, headphones, clothes and even animal residues.
With this mapping technology, CEO Colin Angle explained in May, it can understand granular commands like “clean in front of the kitchen counter” or “clean around the coffee table.”
And by installing this operating system on Amazon’s other smart home products like Ring or the Eero router, Amazon can achieve its goals of creating a fully functional smart home while limiting which enterprise products can connect to the House.
This means the company will have access to this data about people’s homes – and anyone using one of iRobot’s devices will provide this information to Amazon.
Amazon will now control iRobot’s new Robot OS as part of its $1.7 billion acquisition of the company
The acquisition will give the tech giant access to detailed maps of its homes, which could be used to gather even more data about each user. Pictured is an example of a clean card report
Speaking to The Verge in May, Angle said the AI-powered operating system would provide Roombas and other devices with a “cloud-based understanding of the home”.
He explained that as part of the system, an air purifier from Aeris – a company iRobot bought last year – would recognize that people are in the kitchen and then turn on in the living room, where its noise won’t be heard. would bother anyone.
“The idea is an operating system that’s focused not just on enabling robot functionality, but in tune with what’s going on at home,” Angle said at the time.
In May, iRobot CEO Colin Angle announced that the company was rolling out a new operating system that would allow vacuums to communicate with other smart devices.
He noted that iRobot’s vacuums already respond to 600 Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri voice commands and can understand voice commands to clean specific rooms.
But with the new AI-powered operating system, he said: “We can know where things are, so if you screw in a light bulb, you turn on an air purifier, you plug in a grill- bread, you install a speaker, the location of these devices can be immediately understood.
“The scope of what we’re doing with iRobot OS is at that higher level of understanding,” Angle continued, explaining, “The barrier to the next level of AI in robotics isn’t better AI, it’s the context.
“We’ve been able to understand the utterance ‘Go to the kitchen and get me a beer’ for a decade,” he said. “But if I don’t know where the kitchen is, and if I don’t know what a beer tastes like, it doesn’t matter that I understand your words.
“It is only through understanding that the fundamental promise of robotics – reaching out and performing physical tasks in the home – becomes truly manifest.”
The technology could be a boon for Amazon, which has managed to dominate the smart home industry over the past few years by making it easier to connect products to Amazon Alexa.
And the operating system could allow the company’s planned Astro home security robot to engage with other devices as it passes through the house.
Angle is expected to stay with the business while Amazon takes it over.
Amazon executives announced the acquisition last week, its fourth largest to date
Announcing the deal, Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, said, “I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”
Announcing the acquisition last week, Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, said: “Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent the way people clean with Incredibly practical and inventive products – from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin.
“Customers love iRobot products – and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”
iRobot was founded in 1990 and the company is best known for its automated cleaning device, Roomba. Last year, it achieved a turnover of 1.56 billion dollars.
It’s Amazon’s fourth-biggest deal to date, with its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods Market still leading the way after costing $13.7 billion.
Behind that was Amazon’s purchase of film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $8.45 billion and healthcare provider One Medical for $3.9 billion.
Amazon’s four acquisitions this year were Strio.AI, GlowRoad, primary healthcare clinics One Medical and iRobot.
In 2021, the company acquired five more – Umbra 3D, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer television and film company, Art19, Wickr and Veeqo.
Shares of the tech giant fell more than 1% on Tuesday and are now down 17.7% from a year ago
But news of Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot came just a week after the company reported a massive loss for the second consecutive quarter.
The company’s sales topped $121 billion in the quarter, but it posted a loss of $2 billion as it continued to work to control costs.
Many of those losses were related to expansion during the sales bonanza it experienced at the start of COVID. The loss, however, was lower than in the first quarter of this year, when the company reported a loss of $3.8 billion. The loss was the first since 2015 and was also impacted by a large writedown at their electric vehicle company, Rivian.
Amazon shares jumped another 12% in after-hours trading, but were down more than 1% again on Tuesday and are now down 17.7% from a year ago.