A startup called Whistle has developed something special for your dog, and at least on paper, it sounds like a pretty great idea. The device, a small metal disc that can be attached to a standard collar, is akin to human activity trackers like FitBit and FuelBand, but can tell you a lot more about your dog than just how active he’s been recently.
Whistle connects to an iPhone app, which keeps tabs of the accelerometer, and lets you know how many minutes your dog’s spent resting, playing, or walking over any given span of time. The most obvious use of this is to make sure you’re taking the dog out often enough for exercise, but any sense of lessened activity can also help you figure out if anything’s wrong, long before you ever would have thought to take him to the vet. Joint pain will be easier to identify even if your dog isn’t limping, and it’ll let you know if he’s had trouble resting peacefully through the night – one of the early signs of diabetes. The device is said to last for 10 days on a single charge, and is slated to launch this summer for a retail price of $100.
In a recent interview,Whistle’s co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs promised that “it’ll fit any dog except a tea-cup Chihuahua,” and also mentioned that the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center has already made plans to use Whistle in studies. “Vets are like pediatricians where the patient can’t speak,” he continued.
Jacobs formerly worked as a consultant for Bain Capital, and helped design PetSmart’s retail strategy. In that same interview, he cited research statistics showing 80 million dogs in the United States (there are only 72 million kids) as one of Whistle’s principle inspirations. He even maintains that a dog tracker is definitively more relevant than a human tracker, stating that “The human quantified self can be subsumed by the phone – but your dog is never going to have a smartphone.”