What can you trust around your home? Many are questioning whether or not they can trust their modern electronics after a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner took and stored pictures of a woman going to the bathroom.
Intimate images of a female Roomba owner were taken by a development version of the popular robot. Afterwards, the images made their way onto social media where they were shared amongst groups.
Development versions of the Roomba J7 series robot took multiple recordings of the woman and her home. Afterwards, these videos had screenshots taken which were shared on Facebook and Discord.
Acquired by MIT Technology Review, one of these images shows the woman sitting on the toilet, doing her business. Another image is simply of the woman’s child laying on the floor, their face visibly in frame.
While this is a horrifying event, it isn’t the fault of the robot vacuum. The robot vacuum was part of a special experiment to willing participants. During the experiment, users were told that everything was being recorded and the robots were fitted with special hardware to do so.
The reason these screenshots were leaked was not due to the robots, as many online are claiming, but due to human degeneracy. iRobot, the company behind Roomba, send the videos to a startup called Scale AI to analyse. However, Venezuelan gig workers took the images and shared them online.
Since the incident, iRobot has terminated its relationship with Scale AI. iRobot CEO Colin Angle announced “iRobot is terminating its relationship with the service provider who leaked the images, is actively investigating the matter, and [is] taking measures to help prevent a similar leak by any service provider in the future."
In a world where everything is becoming increasingly connected, the handling of personal data is more paramount than ever. After all, with online blackmail and revenge porn being so frequent in this day and age, companies should be more careful than ever before.