Is Roomba Vacuuming Up Data on Your Home?
In this episode of TechTalk, we discuss iRobot’s Roomba automated vacuum collecting more than just dirt. There was a report that the robot vacuum would collect customer household data and offer it to technology companies to enhance internet of things devices. Dave tells us how and what type of information is being collected, potential data privacy and security issues, and iRobot’s response to consumer concerns.
Dave Plaskow: Hello, and welcome to EisnerAmper’s technology podcast series. With more than 500 technology clients, we’re always interested in the latest industry trends and developments, as well as any related business and accounting opportunities and challenges. Today we’re talking about Roomba’s automated vacuums collecting data on the layout of your home. I’m your host Dave Plaskow, and with us today is Dave Katz, Senior Audit Manager in EisnerAmper’s Technology and Life Sciences practice. Yep, it’s another edge-of-your-seat episode of TechTalk. Dave, good to see you again.
Dave Katz: Thanks for having me Dave.
DP: So, Dave, this sounds story rather Orwellian. First, tell us a little bit about Roomba.
DK:Sure. I'm sure you're probably familiar with it. It’s that circular robot vacuum you’ve probably seen on TV or YouTube. It’s part of the iRobot Corporation, which was founded in 1990. And the iRobot corporation manufactures robots for consumers, businesses and the military. iRobot had 2016 revenues of 660 million dollars. Since 2002, it has sold approximately 10 million Roombas.
DP:Yeah, they're pretty ubiquitous. Now, about collecting data on the layout of your home?
DK:Sure,so there were reports out there, that the Roomba would collect spacial relationship data — through the use of cameras and sensors — what that means is the layout of a person’s home, for example, placement of lights, how far the sofa is from the coffee table and so on.
DP: And do what with the data?
DK:Well they could then sell that data to tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple
DP:And to what end?
DK:The thought is that this information could help smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo, better function with lighting systems, thermostats and other Internet of Things devices in the home, including the Roomba itself.
DP: Well this sounds like it could be fraught with privacy and data security issues?
DK: That's right. So, could a Roomba video someone dancing in their living room in their underwear and then leak that out to the public? Or could someone case a house by hacking a Roomba and know when that person is home or out of the home? What if a tech company’s database of home layouts gets compromised? So, clearly it’s a sensitive issue with consumers based on the blowback in the media.
DP:And, how has iRobot responded?
DK:Its CEO, Colin Angle, came out and said they have not had discussions with the tech companies on this, and it has no intention to sell customer data. But they did leave the door open to providing the data not-for-profit, but free to third parties in order to enhance Roomba customers’ IoT experience. But, Angle did stress any data sharing would be based on customer consent.
DP: Yeah, that's an important point, the customer consent. Now, how does something like this – the growing and exploding use of the Internet of Things and data security – impact what accountants and business advisors like yourself do?
DK:Sure, so it goes hand-in-hand with cybersecurity. Seems like not a day goes by without hearing about some new threat or risk. Accountants and business advisors continue to be on the front lines with companies, to not only respond and address those risks, but to foresee and mitigate them.
DP:Yeah, that's the key definitely, being proactive. Well, interesting subject. Thanks, Dave, for your insights.
DK: Thanks for having me Dave.
DP:And thank you for listening to TechTalk as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series.Visit eisneramper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics. And join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.
EisnerAmper’s Technology and Life Sciences practice talks about the Theranos dissolution, and what took them from biotech unicorn to dissolution. Investors must use due diligence and consider a company's internal controls before investing in companies with high valuations.
EisnerAmper's Technology podcast series discusses the proposed New York City Council cap on the number of ridesharing vehicles such as Lyft and Uber in Manhattan to ease congestion. How will this cap change Uber's valuation, and what is the economic hit to the taxi industry?
This episode of the Dave & Dave Show discusses new cryptocurrency technology from the fintech startup company Circle, called USD Coin. This cryptocurrency ties itself to the U.S. Dollar, therefore eliminates some volatility that comes with crypto mining and Bitcoin.
TechTalk takes a look at a tech startup, Aerobotics, that is using drones to help farmers in South Africa. This podcast discusses how the drones help South African farmers, how the US government is using drones and how MIT is making micro drones.
TechTalk discusses a new 3d printed community proposed in El Salvador by the nonprofit New Story and ICON construction. Icon and New Story debuted their 3D printed house at the Austin South by Southwest festival. Issues discussed include cybersecurity and valuation.
Life Science Partner Dave Katz discusses the new 23andMe DNA testing kit for breast cancer BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations approved by the FDA, and what it means for the biotech industry. The FDA approved 23andMe DNA breast cancer test increases access to health care information.
TechTalk examines Jeff Bezos' new possible Amazon facility cities of Austin, New York City, Washington DC and Atlanta, with Atlanta being Dave Katz' first pick. They also discuss Amazon Go, and Amazon's healthcare initiative with Berkshire Hathaway.
EisnerAmper’s technology podcast discusses the first FDA approved EKG band for the Apple Watch. Dave Katz of the Technology and Life Sciences practice discuses these new medical devices, their use of artificial intelligence and the cybersecurity issues surrounding them.
EisnerAmper’s technology podcast discusses related business and accounting opportunities with the senior manager in its Technology and Life Sciences practice about Uber, drones, internet providers and net neutrality, IPOs, AI and the R&D credit that may expire next year.
Is AI Destined to Replace Fund Managers? This episode of TechTalk talks about the first ETF powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the technology behind it, if it impacts a fund’s expense ratio and, most importantly, how it’s performing.
It was a milestone when Facebook implemented facial recognition software in 2010. The iPhone X has put a renewed spotlight on facial recognition technology. EisnerAmper’s Technology and Life Sciences Manager discusses security issues surrounding facial recognition technology.
Supersonic air travel is coming back with a boom. What does today’s market look like for supersonic air travel and how are start-ups such as Boom and Aerion navigating the many challenges? Also discussed is mergers and acquisitions and the need for valuations.
Tesla has received a significant investment from Chinese tech giant Tencent. This podcast discusses what Tesla plans to do with the cash infusion, Tencent’s ownership stake and how this could help both companies enter the highly coveted self-driving car market.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bazos just passed Warren Buffet to become the second wealthiest person on the planet. In Technology M&A news, Amazon competes with Alibaba by buying Dubai based Souq in a battle over E-commerce in the middle east, as reported by EisnerAmper’s Life Sciences Practice.
With retiring baby boomers some of the fastest growing jobs in technology attracting tech talent are located in New York City, San Francisco, Austin and Seattle. Tech talent can come from non-traditional backgrounds and there is strong hiring growth in hubs such as New York City.
Amazon Go wants to streamline your grocery shopping. This podcast discusses Amazon’s plan to use 'Just Walk Out Technology' to change food shopping. A look at the technology behind Amazon Go, potential speedbumps and what it could mean for bricks-and-mortar grocery chains.
David in EisnerAmper’s Technology and Life Sciences Practice, gives a “state of the union” on self-driving cars, an overview of Uber’s unique experiment in Pittsburgh, and a glimpse of what we can expect in the marketplace over the next few years.
This episode of TechTalk we discuss the commercial real estate shortage for the nation’s biotech sector. Life science and biotech companies in hubs like Boston and San Fran are seeking out real estate in the suburbs in order to afford space to expand their businesses.
This Life Sciences and Technology podcast talks about the space-age technology called the Hyperloop. The Hyperloop could take people from LA to San Francisco in 35 minutes, and was originally conceived by Elon Musk. Hyperloop One is the first company to develop the technology.
David discusses the commercial drone market, including how the FAA will regulate pilot licenses, drone use in real estate, Amazon's use of drones for future deliveries, the VC market and M&A strategies for companies interested in investing in drone technology.
David discusses virtual reality including Facebook's acquisition of Oculus, HTC's Vive and revenue recognition that comes from virtual reality technology. HTC has created the Vive X Fund and Facebook has created a similar fund to help develop virtual reality software.