Roomba Cameras and Privacy Mode: New iRobot Patent

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iRobot Corporation has recently been granted a patent for systems and methods for privacy management in an autonomous mobile robot. The patent describes methods of operating a mobile cleaning robot with an image-capture-restricted mode, based on user privacy settings.

What’s The Roomba Privacy Patent About?

As smart homes become more prevalent, privacy concerns will inevitably arise. This patent provides a solution to one potential privacy issue: camera-equipped mobile cleaning robots. By allowing users to create privacy settings that disable or restrict imaging streams, iRobot Corporation has taken steps to address these concerns.

The title page of iRobot's new patent about Roomba cameras and privacy mode.
Photo courtesy of United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What’s In the Patent?

  • The patent allows users to choose from different privacy settings, such as a privacy location, schedule, or other rule, that disable or restrict the imaging stream of the image capture device.
  • The robot can navigate through the environment using other sensors to continue cleaning operations even when a privacy mode is enabled.
  • Features of the patent include the ability to receive privacy mode settings from a user interface, determining robot location, updating a map of the environment, and detecting human occupants.

Negative Aspects

  • Users may still be concerned about the possibility of unauthorized parties gaining access to their accounts and viewing images.
  • Some skeptics may argue that the patent doesn’t go far enough in terms of privacy protection.

Why it Matters

This patent is a significant development in addressing privacy concerns in smart homes. By addressing privacy concerns and giving users more control over their privacy, this patent has the potential to increase user adoption and trust in smart home technology.

However, the limitations of the patent and the need for continued innovations mean that more needs to be done to fully protect users’ privacy in the smart home environment.

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