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What it looks like when a robot vacuum company innovates around you

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This article is sponsored by Roborock.

There is nothing more disappointing than a supposedly transformational home product that just… doesn’t quite work. For decades that was true of robot vacuums, which hold so much promise to make life easier, but instead have spent years trundling into coffee tables, getting caught on rugs, and whisking up tortilla chips only to drop them a few inches to the left. But it’s 2022 and consumers are looking for products that bring new, sophisticated technologies to the table so they can spend less time stressing over the vacuums that were supposed to take care of themselves and more time doing things they want to do. In the world of robot vacuums, Roborock is the industry leader innovating around what the customers are asking for.

Roborock’s products will look familiar to anyone who has ever owned a robot vacuum. The company’s small battery-powered vacuums will roam the open plains of your living room, home office, bedroom, dining room, and kitchen on their own power. But that is where the similarities end, and the strengths stop looking like improvements on what already exists and start looking like a redefinition of the industry’s gold standards.

How did this happen? Well, it started with disappointment. Just like a lot of robot vacuum owners, Roborock’s founder and CEO Richard Chang was frustrated by the lack of innovation in the market.

“I never intended to create a robot vacuum of my own,” said Chang. “But when I found that none of the robots on the market felt like what I believed robot vacuum users really wanted, I felt compelled to try and build something of my own. I was lucky enough to find other people who shared my vision, and that vision became Roborock.”

The first problem Roborock had to address was also the oldest: robot vacuums get stuck. Roborock was one of the first companies to popularize outfitting its vacuums with LiDAR, which is the state-of-the art technology that geologists use to map mountains and car companies use to prevent high-speed crashes. With LiDAR, Roborock’s products can map out your entire home, including the obstacles it needs to avoid.

Knowing the layout of your home is great, but a lot of what trips up yesterday’s robot vacuums are the unpredictable obstacles – a dropped shirt, a backpack, a dog leash. Robot vacuum owners have been complaining about this problem for years, and Roborock knew something had to be done about it. “Our approach may sound simplistic,” said Chang, “but it is important to listen carefully to existing consumer pains and to understand what the market needs.”

So Roborock developed ReactiveAI obstacle avoidance for its S6 MaxV and S7 MaxV vacuums. Now you have a robot vacuum that can skirt around backpacks and shoes and half open doors that would have stranded outdated robot vacuums – while doing a better job cleaning tight corners and avoiding pet messes.

But not all floor surfaces are the same, and sometimes the vacuuming that works in the hallway won’t cut it in the living room. So Roborock equipped its S7 MaxV Ultra with ReactiveAI 2.0, which can identify surfaces in real time and adjust cleaning patterns and suction power to maximize effectiveness.

It isn’t just Roborock’s software that is changing the game: the S7 MaxV is a robot vacuum/mop hybrid that combines intelligent sonic mopping with a mop lift function called VibraRise®. With VibraRise®, Roborock’s S7 MaxV series vacuums can glide into the living room to vacuum granola crumbs out of the carpet right after mopping up a dropped popsicle in the kitchen. Equipped with VibraRise® and ReactiveAI 2.0, it’s little surprise Time Magazine included the S7 MaxV Ultra on its list of The Best Inventions of 2022.

Taking note from the trend towards “smart” household appliances, all of Roborock’s vacuums can be controlled via smartphone, turning your robot vacuum into an extension of yourself rather than an aimless drone. With a swipe of your finger, you can view 2 and 3-D maps of your home and select target areas and no-go zones*. But Roborock took smartphone control to the next level by giving the S7 MaxV a camera and speaker system. Did your kids spill a mountain of popcorn and in the living room during playtime? Did your vacuum miss a spot? With S7 MaxV’s camera and speakers you can tell the kids to settle down and move aside so your vacuum can get to work.

It’s one thing to have a robot vacuum that navigate every corner and clean every surface, but what about a robot vacuum that cleans itself? What if vacuuming stopped being a weekly chore, and became something you only had to think about every other month?

The promise of robot vacuums is convenience, which is why Roborock is creating docking systems that can refill, charge, and even clean your robot vacuum without you lifting a finger. While outdated robot vacuums needed a watchful eye to make sure they didn’t overfill on dust mites or die under the sofa, Roborock’s docks are the only nanny your vacuum needs. The Ultra-Dock for the S7 MaxV Ultra can swap mopping fluid and empty contents while recharging the battery and scrub cleaning the mop. The Ultra-Dock stores up to 7 weeks of dust and lets a S7 MaxV Ultra mop up to 300 square meters before it needs to be cleaned, giving you peace of mind as your new favorite device scrubs away.

The legacy of robot vacuums is the device that almost changed housework forever, but instead got stuck under the coffee table or ate the fringe of grandma’s favorite rug. There have been plenty of small improvements over the years, but Chang believes his company’s approach is what is allowing Roborock to realize our dreams of a great robot vacuum.

“We do the opposite of our competitors,” Chang said. “We place consumer pain points front and center, and build our solutions around that. We want to build a connection with our customers through our brand and products, striving to understand and care about them as people, rather than obsessing over our own image.”

*Features available in select models.

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