Amazon announced this week it’s buying iRobot. The company makes the Roomba robot vacuum, and will be Amazon’s fourth smart home brand.
The deal is worth $1.7 billion. Amazon said it will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction. iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle, will remain in his position after the deal, which still needs approval by shareholders and regulators.
So why does Amazon want a robot vacuum maker? Not for the vacuums.
iRobot’s latest operating system creates detailed floor plans of peoples’ homes. It knows things like whether it’s in the kitchen or a bedroom, who’s bedroom it’s in, even how old your bed might be.
For companies like Amazon that want to make smart homes smarter, the data is a digital goldmine.
The iRobot acquisition adds to Amazon’s stable of smart home brands. Amazon already owned four: smart-speaker maker Alexa, video door-bell maker and home security company Ring, a budget camera company called Blink, and Eero, a leader in the mesh Wi-Fi industry.
By owning these smart home companies, Amazon has the ability to learn even more about our everyday, private lives — things like what we say in our homes, where we shop, even if we rearrange the furniture in our living rooms.
Naturally, critics of the merger said the move gives Amazon too much power to access private information.
Earlier this summer Angle, offered an example scenario.
Say you want a robot to go to the kitchen and get you a beer. To do that, home devices need context; like knowing what a kitchen is, or a refrigerator, or a beer.
And the only way to get that context, at least right now, is to allow AI-powered devices more access.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
REMEMBER THE JETSONS? THAT FAMILY IN THE FUTURE WITH A ROBOT-MAID AND A HOUSE FULL OF AUTOMATED FEATURES?
AMAZON WANTS TO MAKE THAT A REALITY, BUT THE COMPANY NEEDS TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE INSIDE OF PEOPLE’S HOMES, SO IT’S BUYING THE MAKER OF THE ROOMBA ROBOT VACUUM.
THE DEAL, WORTH $1.7 BILLION WAS ANNOUNCED FRIDAY.
SO WHY DOES AMAZON WANT A ROBOT-VACUUM MAKER? NOT FOR THE VACUUMS.
IROBOT’S LATEST OPERATING SYSTEM CREATES DETAILED FLOOR PLANS OF PEOPLES’ HOMES. IT KNOWS THINGS LIKE WHETHER IT’S IN THE KITCHEN OR A BEDROOM, WHO’S BEDROOM IT’S IN, EVEN HOW OLD YOUR BED MIGHT BE.
FOR COMPANIES LIKE AMAZON THAT WANT TO MAKE SMART HOMES SMARTER, THE DATA IS A DIGITAL GOLDMINE.
THE IROBOT ACQUISITION MEANS AMAZON NOW OWNS FOUR SMART HOME BRANDS: SMART-SPEAKER MAKER ALEXA, VIDEO DOOR-BELL MAKER AND HOME SECURITY COMPANY RING, A BUDGET CAMERA COMPANY AND EERO, A LEADER IN THE MESH WI-FI INDUSTRY.
BY OWNING THESE SMART HOME COMPANIES, AMAZON HAS THE ABILITY TO LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT OUR EVERYDAY, PRIVATE LIVES. THINGS LIKE WHAT WE SAY IN OUR HOMES, WHERE WE SHOP, EVEN IF WE REARR ANGE THE FURNITURE IN OUR LIVING ROOMS.
NATURALLY, CRITICS OF THE MERGER SAY THE MOVE GIVES AMAZON TOO MUCH POWER TO ACCESS PRIVATE INFORMATION.
EARLIER THIS SUMMER COLIN ANGLE, THE FOUNDER OF IROBOT, OFFERED AN EXAMPLE SCENARIO.
SAY YOU WANT A ROBOT TO GO TO THE KITCHEN AND GET YOU A BEER. TO DO THAT, HOME DEVICES NEED CONTEXT LIKE KNOWING WHAT A KITCHEN IS, OR A REFRIGERATOR, OR A BEER.
AND THE ONLY WAY TO GET THAT CONTEXT, AT LEAST RIGHT NOW, IS TO ALLOW AI POWERED DEVICES MORE ACCESS.