The Home Front: Protecting our privacy in increasingly smart homes – Montreal Gazette

As our homes become “smarter� and more connected — the garage door talking to the security camera, which talks to the light switches, and all of them, including the vacuum cleaner, interfacing with our smart phones — issues surrounding privacy and security are forefront in the design process.

“Privacy and security is such a huge thing with any product that’s collecting any data, regardless of those that are beaming it out to devices or across devices, so it’s something we’ve spend a lot of time on and a lot of money and effort making sure the security is there,� says Rob Green, a senior design engineer at Dyson, and one of the designers behind Dyson’s new 360 Eye Robot vacuum cleaner.

Eighteen-years in the making, and a product that involved Dyson partnering with the Imperial College of London, the Eye Robot uses SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) to make detailed floor maps of any room it enters by taking 360 degree photos (at 30 frames per second).

“It’s almost like an old sailor using star charts,� says Green. “It’s looking at the top of a door frame or bookcase or picture and going OK, there’s a very strong defined corner, I’m going to mark that down and as I move forwards I’m getting closer to that point and further away from this point I marked behind me, so I know these are obstacles I’m approaching or moving away from.�

Questions surrounding privacy come up, says Green, because of the robot’s camera and the fact that the maps it generates (showing where it’s cleaned) can be viewed on the user’s devices by downloading an app.

“The images we get asked a lot about because obviously you do have this camera recording images within your home,� says Green. “Actually the camera and the memory and all of that is kept very separate from what people can access from the data that’s beamed to the cloud if you will. It’s only keeping those images for as long as it needs to analyze them and then deleting them off so there’s no record on the machine of those images when the robot goes back to the dock, it wipes all of that off.�

For $1299.99 consumers can have this robot do their dirty work from anywhere in the world.

“Let’s say you’re on vacation in the Caribbean and you’re about to board the flight and you want to come back to a nice clean house, you can hit start from your phone and the robot will go off and clean it,� says Green.

Interacting with our homes, remotely, will be even easier this Fall, with the new Nest Cam Outdoor.

“We wanted to lower the barrier for people to get an outdoor camera to begin with, something that so far has only been associated with high end homes,� says Rocky Jacob, head of industrial design at Nest. “In order to do this, we chose a different path by enabling people to install the outdoor camera themselves without compromising the features.�

The camera has a magnet base, around which it pivots, allowing it to stick to any metal surfaces (such as window or door frames) and doing away with the need for tools to install it, says Jacob.

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