Would You Spend $100 on Whistle, a Wireless Fitness Tracker for Your Dog?
Whistle is this neat little device that tracks your dog's activity levels, using an accelerometer to determine whether a dog is resting, playing, or sleeping. That data is synced using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to an owner's phone.
"We would love to be able to help these dogs live longer lives," said Whistle co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs, according to CNN. "The No. 1 indicator of a dog's health is its own activity compared to its base line."
As dog products go, it's neat, to be sure. But it's not very surprising -- more and more companies are releasing these little doodads, in part because more and more people who leave their dogs at home when they go to work want to know what the heck their dogs are really up to with regard to exercise, and in part because pet owners will buy anything.
What is surprising, however, is that the company already has 20 employees and has raised $6 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firms.
Actually, we shouldn't be that surprised, given that people reportedly spent more than $50 billion on their pets in 2012, according to CNN. Indeed, pet owners will buy anything. Last year, $370 million was spent just on Halloween costumes for pets.
As for the Whistle, it's about the size of a quarter, and it fits neatly on a collar. The company touts that it measures a dog's “ambient activity,” according to Wired, or the periods of movement that are not human-initiated -- a dog’s nighttime sleep patterns, for example, or a dog's behavior during the day while you’re at work.
Over time, if your dog's ambient activity changes, that could mean something is amiss, and that's where Whistle could be a lifesaver. Imagine, for example, if your dog develops a joint problem. The first signs of trouble might be imperceptible to you, but they won't be to the Whistle -- reading the data, you might notice if your dog is lounging around more than usual during the day. Catching a developing joint issue early can prevent costly surgery down the road.
The Whistle will also notice when your dog isn't getting enough exercise -- and make suggestions. Given that more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight, that could happen quite often.
"We'll give playful hints, but we never want to judge a pet parent, just like you never want to judge a child's parent," Jacobs said.
Whistle sells for $100, and the devices will start shipping this summer. [Editor's Note: We're told we'll be getting our review unit in July]
Would you buy your dog one of these? Or do you think the last thing a dog needs is to be saddled with electronic devices?