iRobot partners with Google, will use mapped data to improve the smart home experience

Why it matters: iRobot’s partnership with Google is sure to elicit talk of privacy concerns, and justifiably so. According to iRobot, however, the sharing of mapped data will be completely voluntary. Even still, I wonder how many people will be interested in participating to help Google improve its products.

iRobot on Wednesday announced a collaboration with Google to use mapped data collected by its Roomba robotic vacuums to enhance Google’s smart home experience.

iRobot’s latest vacuum, the Roomba i7+, features Imprint Smart Mapping technology that allows the bot to learn your home’s floor plan. Using voice commands through the Google Assistant, users can even have the robot clean specific rooms just by asking.

The proposed opt-in program will let Roomba users share their mapping data with Google to help explore new smart home innovations. For example, such data could make it easier to set up future smart home gadgets and enable new automations.

Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, said working with Google will allow them to explore new ways to enable a more thoughtful home.

iRobot didn’t provide any other details about the collaboration in its press release, perhaps suggesting the partnership is still in a very early stage.

It was reported in the summer of 2017 that iRobot was looking to shop this mapped data around to potential buyers. Reuters even suggested at the time that the top three buyers could be Amazon, Apple and Google.

iRobot issued the following statement at the time in response to our story:

“iRobot does not sell data customer data. Our customers always come first. We will never violate our customer’s trust by selling or misusing customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products. Right now, the data Roomba collects enables it to effectively clean the home and provides customers with information about cleaning performance. iRobot believes that in the future, this information could provide even more value for our customers by enabling the smart home and the devices within it to work better, but always with their explicit consent.”

Unless iRobot is just giving its mapped data to Google at no charge (which seems highly unlikely), odds are, they’ll generate some sort of income from it.

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Asus unveils new durability-focused 'TUF'-series FX705 and FX505 gaming laptops

What just happened? Dell isn’t the only coming working on laptops that can take a punishment. Asus has launched two new “TUF” series notebooks that focus on gaming performance and certified durability. For now, the TUF line-up includes the 15-inch TUF FX505, and the 17-inch TUF FX705.

Asus promises that both laptops have been rigorously tested, and achieved MIL-STD-810G durability certifications. This means that, in theory, the TUF-series notebooks should be able to withstand table-to-floor drops, shock and vibration, high altitude, “solar radiation,” high or low temperatures, and humidity.

While we can’t verify any of those claims without taking the devices for a spin ourselves, their bulky nature does lend some credence to Asus’ claims.

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Moving on from grand marketing boasts, let’s discuss the real meat of these laptops: the screen and hardware. Both devices offer identical component options, but since the FX705 isn’t listed on Asus’ online storefront as of writing, we’ll only focus on the pricing of the FX505 in this piece.

FX505 customers will be treated to 144Hz, 1080p “NanoEdge” IPS displays. The laptop comes in 5 different hardware configurations, starting with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and Intel Core i5-8300H-powered version for $699. You’ll also get 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB HDD.

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The mid-range FX505 houses an Intel i7 8750H, a GTX 1050 Ti, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD; all for $999. The most expensive FX505 will run you a whopping $1299, featuring similar hardware to the previous configuration, but with a 6GB GTX 1060 and an extra 8GB of RAM.

It may seem a bit strange that Asus has chosen to pair a 144Hz display with such — comparatively speaking — weak hardware, but users should be able to comfortably hit around 100 FPS in well-optimized modern titles by turning the graphical settings down a few notches.

If the 15-inch FX505 sounds like your cup of tea, you can snag any of the previously-mentioned models via Asus’ official storefront. If you’d rather hold out for the 17-inch FX705, you can take a look at its design, specifications, and other features on its dedicated marketing page.

Image courtesy Rock Paper Shotgun

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VapeWorld's Halloween Sale Boasts Some Scary-Good Deals

Best Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.   

If you like to vape and want to upgrade your equipment, VapeWorld is taking 20% off sitewide this week with promo code SPOOKY20. As an authorized seller of Pax Labs, Grenco G Pens, Kandypens, and AirVapes, just for starters, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Update: Pax is excluded from the coupon, along with a few other brands. Sorry!

This deal ends on Friday, so place your order before the promo code goes up in a puff of smoke.


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Dozens of Jeff Bezoses Protest Amazon's Continued Relationship With ICE

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Outside Amazon’s Seattle headquarters today, protesters arrived wearing quite possibly the most terrifying Halloween costume imaginable: Jeff Bezos’s face.

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