How do you build a pet-friendly gadget? We asked experts and animal owners

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The rise of smart home gadgets has sometimes forgotten a very important family member, one with tendencies that differ significantly from the humans of the house: our pets.

And it’s not always been plain sailing. While our fuzzy friends may seem cute and cuddly on the surface, in the ongoing battle between nature and technology, we all know who really rules the household.

Many gadgets have tried to come out on top — and many have failed. From cats who don’t give a damn about your deadline:

To pugs who are seriously unamused by the new sound box you’ve brought into their domain.

This is a challenge many manufactures have missed: building a great smart home gadget isn’t just about understanding the needs of your customers, it’s also about understanding the needs of their pets. So, how do you go about achieving this?

We put this to Andy Knight, Head of Global Brand at Roborock. He explained that when building the updated version of their robot vacuum — Roborock S6 MaxV — they faced this problem. As people with big home cleaning needs, pet owners were a huge potential market for them.

While taking care of the continuous and never ending amounts of fluff would solve a big problem for this demographic, the Roborock team soon realized that deeper research into pet owners’ biggest challenges would be needed to truly win them over in the increasingly competitive robovac market.

And just what are those pains? We spoke to pet owners to find out.

Arianka, the shed master

If you own a pet, having to vacuum two or even three times a week becomes normal practice. But, if you have a particularly fuzzy friend, you may need to do this even more often.

Patty — the owner of high energy German Shepherd, Arianka — told us that her house is continuously fur-coated, even when she’s vacuuming regularly.

Dropping clean laundry on the floor, even for a second, means you’ll get back a bunch of items that look like mohair sweaters. Doing yoga isn’t an option anymore as even laying on a mat will leave you swiftly covered in dog hairs.

But trusting a robovac to get the job done isn’t always an option either. As Knight explained, “A lot of early robots used to get tangled up with pet hair and stop moving.”

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