Last June, Whistle was touted as “Fitbit for your dog,” an on-collar activity monitor in the form of a small metal disc. The first version of this wearable piece of technology was great for logging data about a dog’s daily activity and health, but it lacked location-tracking functionality, something of utmost importance to owners who, for expected or unexpected reasons, spend time apart from their beloved canines. On Tuesday, San Francisco-based Whistle addressed that shortcoming by introducing the WhistleGPS, an updated version of the original Whistle with a location-monitoring feature.
The WhistleGPS uses a combination of GPS and sub-GHz technology to keep track of the dog wearing the device. (For the curious, sub-GHz refers to the band of cellular frequencies between near-range technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and traditional cellular networks like 3G and LTE, which is compatible with low-power, inexpensive and small antennas.) This location-monitoring technology is being layered on top of the activity-tracking functionality in the previous version of the Whistle, now dubbed the Whistle Activity Monitor. The Whistle mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS devices, acts as the owner’s window into their dog’s up-to-date location and activity data.
So why didn’t the first iteration of the Whistle have location-tracking technology? “It would have been impossible to create a product with an adequate size, battery life, and cost using the cellular technology available at the time,” according to the company’s website.
The location-monitoring services offered by the WhistleGPS aren’t free – owners will have to pony up $5 per month for the feature. Whistle is taking pre-orders for a limited quantity of the WhistleGPS at a special price of $49 until May 28, and shipments are expected to begin in 2015. The company is implementing a program that offers $10 in credit toward a purchase of the WhistleGPS for every referral. It’s also donating one WhistleGPS (up to 3,000) to the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study for every one purchased by May 28.
The device, which will retail for $129, comes in five colors (black, green, blue, red and orange), is waterproof and uses a rechargeable battery that lasts about a week on a charge.
There have been other attempts at creating activity- and location-tracking devices fit for a dog’s collar, but the WhistleGPS’ low price points for the device and monthly service fees are nothing to bark at.